Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fr. Damien and the Miraculous Cure

AOL is featuring a nice piece on the miracle recently accepted by the Church as the final one needed to canonize Fr. Damien of Molokai. Here is a large portion of the article:

AIEA, Hawaii (Aug 9.) - When cancer spread into her lungs, doctors told Audrey Toguchi she had six months to live, at best, and suggested chemotherapy as the only option.

Toguchi, however, turned to another source -- a Catholic missionary who died more than a century ago.

"I'm going to Molokai to pray to Father Damien," Toguchi calmly told Dr. Walter Y.M. Chang after hearing her death sentence.

"Mrs. Toguchi, prayers are nice and it's probably very helpful, but you still need chemotherapy," replied Chang, who earlier had removed a fist-size tumor from Toguchi's left buttock that was the source of the cancer in her lungs.

Defying Chang and the pleas of her husband and two sons, Toguchi caught a flight from Honolulu to the remote peninsula of Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai to pray at the grave of the priest who had ministered to people with leprosy until he, too, caught it and died in 1889.

"Dear Lord, you're the one who created my body, so I know you can fix it," Toguchi prayed. "I put my whole faith in you. ... Father Damien, please pray for me, too, because I need your help."

On a doctor's visit on Oct. 2, 1998, a month after cancer was first detected in her lungs, doctors expected the tumors to have grown. Instead, they had shrunk, and by May 1999 tests confirmed that they had disappeared without treatment.

Chang and a half-dozen other doctors, including a cardiologist, oncologist, pathologist and radiologist, couldn't explain it. Chang, who does not belong to any religion, urged Toguchi to report it to the Catholic church.

Damien, born Joseph de Veuster, arrived in the islands in 1864. Nine years later he began ministering to leprosy patients on Molokai, where some thousands had been banished amid an epidemic in Hawaii in the 1850s. After contracting the disease, also known as Hansen's disease, he died on April 15, 1889, at 49.

His life and work have inspired many, from Mother Teresa, who lobbied for Damien's sainthood, to Mahatma Gandhi.

Toguchi returned to Damien's grave after the cancer disappeared. This time, she took her husband, Yukio, who comes from a Buddhist family and attended Methodist church growing up on the sugar plantations of Maui.

"I'm not the praying type but I just wanted to say 'Thank you,'" he said. Every day is a blessing to him now, he said.

Audrey Toguchi still prays often to Damien, asking him to help others. Complete story.

Soon to be ackowledged/canonized St. Damien of Molokai, pray for us.

Something that bears mentioning that I have mentioned here before -
There is a wonderful documentary, "The Father Damien Story - An Uncommon Kindness," which was narrated by Robin Williams available through (and I'm sure other outlets). It is so well done that my documentary despising husband even enjoyed it. We first saw it as a rental from

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