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Inspired by Damien


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POSTED: Friday, May 15, 2009

The heroic story of Father Damien De Veuster is a chapter of Hawaii's history that is news again this year, as he will be declared a saint by the Catholic Church.

Damien's dedication to leprosy patients who were separated from their families and banished to Kalaupapa has stimulated creations by local artists.

The Oahu Choral Society will present the premiere performance of a classical composition by Donald Reid Womack at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow in St. Andrew's Cathedral at Queen Emma Square. The 120-member combined Honolulu Symphony Chorus and Cathedral Choir accompanied by 23 Honolulu Symphony Orchestra musicians will perform “;Voices of Kalaupapa.”; Tickets available at the door are $20 for general admission and $10 for senior citizens and active military personnel.

Big Island artist Dietrich Varez wove island imagery around the figure of the 19th-century priest in his newest depiction of Damien. Varez has permitted the Catholic diocese to sell reproductions of his work to help underwrite the cost of canonization celebrations on all islands.

To order an 11-by-14-inch copy, send a $10 check to Hawaii Catholic Herald, 1184 Bishop St., Honolulu, HI 96813. Make the check payable to “;Roman Catholic Church in the state of Hawaii.”;

Several other island musicians have Damien songs in the works, including Glenn Medeiros and Keith Haugen, whose dream is to organize a concert where all those musical versions of the Damien story will be presented.