Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pilgrimage to Hawaii

I recently returned from a young adult pilgrimage to Hawaii that the Diocese of Cheyenne sponsored. 11 young (and young-in-spirit) adults traveled to Hawaii in order to follow in the footsteps of St. Damien of Moloka'i and St. Marianne Cope, who lived during  the mid 1800s. At that time, leprosy was devastating the native Hawaiians. It was thought that this disease was incurable and highly contagious, and so those with leprosey were forcibly isolated and sent to a colony where they would live and eventually die apart from society. Sts. Damien and Marianne worked at the leper colony on the island of Moloka'i when, during the mid 1800s, lepers were forcibly isolated. St. Damien, a missionary priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts was who was born in Belgium, volunteered to go to Moloka'i for a four month shift, but then he requested to stay because he fell in love with the people he met there. He worked at the colony on Moloka'i for 16 years before contracting leprosy himself and eventually dying from it. Towards the end of his life, Sr. Marianne Cope and other nuns joined him in his work and continued it after his death. So here are some picture highlights from the pilgrimage.

We were greeted with a typically beautiful view on our descent:

We celebrated Mass in the Cathedral of Honolulu, the very church where Father Damien was ordained a priest:

Through unexpected connections, we were able to visit the archives (not normally open to the public) of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts, Fr. Damien's order, and see relics and artifacts from his life. This first picture is the baptismal registry from his parish, St. Philomena's, and you can see his name (in his own writing) near the top right:

One of his chasubles:

And the source of Fr. Damien's strength, his Chalice:

We were able to visit the island of Moloka'i where the saints worked, which was breathtakingly gorgeous. We flew in really small planes for the half-hour plane ride to Moloka'i. The planes were so small it two of them to transport our group of 11.

The leper colony occupied only a small peninsula of Moloka'i, called Kalaupapa, which is geographically isolated by towering cliffs seen in this photo:

St. Philomena's, the parish Fr. Damien rebuilt and from which he operated:

Fr. Damien's grave next the church. Before his canonization, his body was moved to Belgium for more public veneration because the various state and federal authorities at play on Moloka'i make this site very difficult to access. Now, this grave contains a relic of his right hand, symbolic of him blessing and laboring for the colony. 

Shots from around Moloka'i

We also got to visit the Pearl Harbor memorial in Honolulu. Although we couldn't visit the USS Arizona memorial due to wind, we visited the USS Missouri, on whose decks the documents of surrender were signed which ended World War II. Here is a shot from the decks of the Missouri looking over at the Arizona memorial.

And we watched the football game between the University of Wyoming and the University of Hawaii. UW held the lead until the 4th quarter, at which point we gave up two touchdowns, the lead, and the game. Still, probably the only UW game I'll ever wear shorts and flip-flops to.

Overall, a pilgrimage with great people to a beautiful land to learn about some incredible saints.

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