New Zealand represented at canonisations in Rome

This Sunday 11 October a group of New Zealand representatives will be present when Father Damien of Molokai and Sister Jeanne Jugan are canonised by Pope Benedict XVI.

Father Damian Wynn-Williams from St Bernadette’s Parish in Dunedin is a relative of Father Damien of Molokai and will be attending.

He will be joined by Dunedin Bishop Colin Campbell and Sisters Marguerite Frew, Dunedin, and Marguerite Makal, Auckland, from the Little Sisters of the Poor. At least three other members of the Auckland Diocese are also in Rome for the occasion.

Father Damien is known for his work with leprosy sufferers. In 1886 he volunteered to spend the rest of his life on the Island of Molokai, helping those with leprosy who had been shipped to the island and left without sufficient food, shelter or healthcare. He eventually contracted the disease himself and died.

Sister Jeanne Jugan founded the Little Sisters of the Poor. In 1839, when living in St Servan, Jeanne gave up her bed for an elderly woman who was paralysed, blind and had found herself alone. Other elderly women followed and she cared for them.

Caring for the elderly poor was the basis on which she founded the Little Sisters of the Poor. The order was established in New Zealand in 1888 and continues to minister to the elderly today. The Little Sisters of the Poor run two homes for the elderly - Sacred Heart Home in Dunedin and St Joseph’s Home in Auckland.

Celebrations of Sister Jugan’s canonisation will take place at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Dunedin 23 October and St Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland 31 October.