|Taken just before he sailed for Hawaii|
But it is Jesus Christ who preserves His missionaries from all dangers, who commands the winds to be still, the sea to be calm, wild beasts to flee, spiritual enemies, the demons, the world, and the flesh to leave us in peace. It is He who will make us enjoy unsuspected happiness in the midst of tribulations, sufferings, and contradictions.He would have had then no way to know how true his words would prove.
As the ship made its way across the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, everyone on board recognized something remarkable about the young Brother Damien, who at the time was just twenty-three years of age.
Throughout the voyage Brother Damien proved of invaluable service to the superior, Father Chretien Willemsen, who was prone to seasickness. It was Father Chretien who remarked of Damien, "That boy's zeal is contagious!"
The long journey aboard the R. M. Wood was not always easy as it encountered several storms along the way, but at long last, on March 17, 1864, the cry of "Land ahead!" rang throughout the ship as it sailed by the islands of Maui and Moloka'i. On March 19th, at 9:00 p.m., the R. M. Wood rounded Le'ahi (a.k.a. Diamond Head) and approached the harbor of Honolulu where the Aloha Tower now stands. When Brother Damien arrived, he joined forty other missionaries of the Sacred Hearts; soon he would overshadow them all with his zeal.
The date of his arrival is, I suspect, no mere coincidence. Then, as now, Holy Mother Church celebrates on March 19th the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary. Before taking his religious name of Damien, he was baptized under the name of Josef.
In the Litany of Saint Joseph, the Husband of Mary is invoked under his titles, among others, as "Consolation of the afflicted," "Hope of the sick," and "