POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 7, 2010
Molokai will host 40 international visitors next week at a retreat for members of the Fraternity of Molokai and Heart's Home organization.
The weeklong trip will run from tomorrow to Aug. 15 at the Puu o Hoku Ranch in Kaunakakai and will gather missionaries from Peru, Argentina, France, India, Philippines, Chile, Senegal, France, Italy and other countries.
"It's kind of like a family gathering," said the Rev. Gonzague Leroux, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a priest in the fraternity.
Heart's Home is an international Catholic volunteer organization, based in France, whose mission is to spread a culture of compassion to people in deprived areas of the globe. Heart's Home spawned the Fraternity of Molokai, an order of priests who carry out ministry in accordance with Heart's Home's mission.
Although named after the island, the fraternity's home is in New York. The priests chose the name Molokai because of its spiritual significance of St. Damien's working place and it's people that helped to make him a saint. It wasn't until this past January when a member of the Fraternity of Molokai traveled to the place whose name they bore for the past 16 years.
"I liked it very much," said Leroux. He and the Rev. Thierry de Roucy, founder of Heart's Home, visited the island to plan for the retreat. "The beauty of the island is very natural."
He added that in addition to visiting the place of St. Damien, the trip will be of extra significance because it marks the 20th anniversary of Heart's Home.
On the retreat agenda are spiritual teachings, Masses, lessons and a visit to Kalaupapa where St. Damien served those suffering from Hansen's disease.
"We always know about him through his writings, but to get to know him better, we have to go there," said the Rev. Paul Anel, also from Brooklyn, who was recently ordained as a priest a year ago. He has never been to Hawaii.
"I'm very excited," he said.
Among the 40 people attending the retreat will be 10 priests from the fraternity, two of their seminarians and a deacon. There will also be nuns and lay consecrated people from Heart's Home.