Tag: Kalaupapa

The eighth circle of Paradise: Saint Damien of Molokai and Jonathan Napela in Kalaupapa

Father Damien of Molokai with residents of the Kalaupapa colony. Photo courtesy of saintdamien.com

Sunday evening I attended a screening of a preliminary cut of the documentary “The Soul of Kalaupapa.”  The film examines the ecumenical legacy of the leper’s colony  on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.  Kalaupapa was brought to recent prominence by last year’s canonization of Saint Damien of Molokai, the key figure in the community’s history.  Fred Woods, a producer of the film and an historian whose research focuses on Kalaupapa, presented the film and followed it with a lecture on the topic. The history of the place is compelling, and heartbreaking.  Founded in 1865 on an isolated peninsula of Molokai, the colony was a response to the era’s intense fears surrounding the spread of Hansen’s disease, the preferred medical term for leprosy. Between 1866 and 1969, over 8,000 people were forcibly quarantined on the Kalaupapa site.  Some patients, including children, were sent alone to make their way as strangers in this fearful new place, which they expected never to leave.…