American Idols: Damien; Cope; Dutton-Talents Given to the Lepers of Hawaii

Father Damien and Mother Mairianne Cope

Father Damien and Mother Marianne Cope

I love the whole concept of a talent search. The excitment of each week’s American Idol contest keeps me watching. At the same time my interests focus on others who merit the title: American Idol.

At the moment I am deeply engaged in reading about the drama that took place in Hawaii as Fr Damien, Mother Marianne Cope and Brother Joseph Dutton immersed themselves in giving their talents fully to those banished lepers in the settlement on Molokai. They too deserve MY title of being American Idols.

I am just finishing reading the excellent resource about these talented heroes as told by John Tayman in The Colony. I am so inspired that I have set out to forge a team of curriculum writers to prepare materials students and teachers can use in learning about the important contribution of these three and more. The “idols”  tended to the more than 8,000 poor souls quietly banished to this paradise location to suffer without the reality of a known cure for their cursed affliction. Life was impossible there, hositle, lawless, despair, much suffering and isolation leading to hopeless agony. God forsaken? God becomes present in these three and others who are unafraid to fully give of themselves with no reward or personal gain promised.

Father Damien: The Leper Priest of Molokai will be canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church on October, 11, 2009 in Rome. Mother Marianne’s cause is being considered by the Vatican.

Damien’s fascinating story points me to learn about what I call the “Hawaii Holocaust’. This little known Holocaust is rich with American Idol Heroes, talented missionaries of love and caring. The “Idols” now can be remembered for the self sacrifice they gave overlooking the peril that could come their way in contracting leporosy. Damien becomes a martyr for the cause of bringing more that religion to the thousands of lives he touched.

Damien brought hope to all. He brought spirituality for Catholics. He reached out to all the people looking for some meaning to explain the horrific circumstance that qualified them to be called, “unclean, outcasts” -all because some bacteria invaded their bodies.

My prayer today is thanksgiving for the times we are living in when we are open to exploring stories and circumstances that are “strange” “uncomfortable” and such. There is much suffering in the world. We might be temped to withdraw. Yet, so much deep understanding and wisdom awaits those willing to engage in the journey. Look for the American and World “Idols” who give their talents to entertain and transform the world.


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