Sen. Akaka will head to Vatican


POSTED: Thursday, October 08, 2009

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka will travel to Rome to attend Sunday's canonization of Father Damien at the Vatican.

A native of Belgium, Joseph De Veuster was a Catholic priest who ministered to leprosy patients on Molokai in the 19th century.

Akaka and U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye introduced a resolution Tuesday in the Senate commemorating the canonization.

Akaka said every opportunity must be taken “;to educate our nation on Father Damien's life and the history of Kalaupapa.”;

Many leprosy patients were forced to live in the Molokai enclave of Kalaupapa during the 1800s. De Veuster ministered to its residents from 1863 until his death from leprosy in 1889.