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Artwork by Klaas Verplancke

Inauguration 'Father Damien Way' in New York City

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On October 11, 2009, Joseph De Veuster, better known as Father Damien, was canonized by the Vatican. He was the tenth person recognized as a Saint by the Catholic Church to have lived, worked, or died in what is now the United States. To commemorate and celebrate Father Damien’s legacy in New York City, 33rd Street between First and Second Avenues has been named “Father Damien Way” in honor of this remarkable Belgian priest.

Joseph De Veuster was born in Tremelo in Flanders, Belgium in 1840. He entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Leuven, took the name of Damien, and left for Hawai’i as a missionary in 1864.

Once arriving in Kalaupapa on the island of Moloka’i, he took care of those who had been spurned by society because of Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy. For 16 years, Father Damien cared for the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of those who had been confined to the colony until he eventually contracted the disease and succumbed to it in 1889.

Father Damien’s legacy of faith, compassion, and dedication for the most vulnerable among us is an inspiration to us all. He was a priest and a healer, a community leader and early human rights activist, and a catalyst for the current movement to eliminate neglected infectious diseases.

"Following in the steps of Jesus’ ministry to the lepers, Fr. Damien challenged the stigmatizing effects of disease, giving voice to the voiceless and ultimately sacrificing his own life to bring dignity to so many.” - President Barack Obama

On Monday, May 11, at 1:30 PM, The Honorable Geert Bourgeois, Minister-President of the Government of Flanders and His Eminence, Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan will be inaugurating "Father Damien Way" together at the Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary on 33rd Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue.

RSVP to events@flandershouse.org or call (212) 584-2200 to attend the inauguration ceremony. Event will start at 1:30 PM sharp so please arrive 15 minutes early.

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