Like Father James Martin, SJ, who wrote a book about the saints that influenced his life; I also have a list of saints that have inspired me on how to live the Gospel life. One them is Father Damien of Molokai, who was canonized in 2009, and whose feast day is today.
Father Damien really exemplifies the concepts of diakonia and kenosis, of service and emptying oneself for the sake of others. A Belgium missionary in Hawaii, in 1873, he volunteered to go and minister to the lepers who had been sent to a quarantine colony on the island of Molokai. His ministry soon went beyond just celebrating the Mass and sacraments, to building decent shelters for the lepers, and providing what medical treatments he could. He helped bring order out of chaos in the colony. But his work came with a price, in 1884, he himself contracted leprosy. He would die of the disease in 1889.
Since I have been in the Diaconate formation program, persons like St. Damien have provided me with new inspiration. Father Damien, even though he was a priest, is a example to me of the idea of diaconal life, a life of ministry to the altar, and the service of charity.
St. Damien of Molokai, pray for me.