NEW YORK, New York – A portion of New York’s 33rd Street (between 1st and 2nd avenues) will be co-named Father Damien Way after the 19th-century Roman Catholic Priest from Belgium – born Jozef De Veuster – who won recognition for his ministry in the Kingdom of Hawai‘i to people with leprosy. Also known as Hansen’s disease, leprosy forced a government quarantine to all who contracted the disease to a remote location on the island of Moloka‘i known as Kalaupapa.
“We are elated to honor one of our home’s greatest heroes. Saint Damien changed the world and made it a better place through compassion and ultimately giving his life to this cause,” said Nicolas Polet of Flanders House NY, the Flemish government’s U.S. presence.
Echoing those sentiments, Moloka‘i’s State legislator, Senator J. Kalani English (Hāna, East & Upcountry Maui, Moloka’i, Lāna’i and Kaho’olawe) said, “Saint Damien was moved by his religious commitments and his strong sense of compassion. The patients forced to a life of condemnation in Kalaupapa found a beacon of hope and light in Saint Damien – a lesson we can all learn.”
The portion of street that is slated to be named after the Belgium Saint is located near the Mid-Atlantic Regional Hansen’s Disease Center at Bellevue Hospital, which provides testing and treatment of the disease.
The inauguration of Father Damien Way will take place on Monday, May 11, 2015 from 1:30 to 3:30 PM at The Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (325 East 33rd Street, New York, NY). The day will end with a celebratory dinner at the Metropolitan Club of New York.
About Flanders House NY
Established as a non-profit organization in the United States, Flanders House NY is the official representation of and funded by the Government of Flanders, a regional government of Belgium in the U.S. Flanders House promotes a better understanding of the region of Flanders through the arts, science, technology, and education in U.S.