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News from 'Damian Today' ( Brs)

On Friday, 20 September 2013, a seminar entitled "Leprosy: a human experience" was held at the Damien Center in Leuven. The seminar was a joint initiative of the Faculty of Social Sciences of Catholic University of Leuven and the Centre Damian. After the welcome speeches of Fr. Juan Carlos Tinjaca sscc and the rector of Leuven University, Prof. Dr. Katlijn Malfliet, a presentation on leprosy was given by Sr. S. Anwei Law.
   Ms. Law is an American researcher devoted more than forty years to study the history of leprosy in Hawaii. Her research is based on letters, documents, and especially on the experiences of the witnesses. Since 1994 she has been the coordinator of IDEA (Integration Dignity & Economic Advancement), an organizations for human rights and individuals with experience of leprosy. This organization wants to recognize the lepers worldwide of their human dignity and to give them a voice.
   The presentation by Ms. Law was followed by a dozen testimonials from people who had personal contact with leprosy. People from Brazil, Japan, Indonesia, Ghana, China, Mexico and Hawaii shared their moving stories while making reference to the personality and the work of Father Damien, the central figure of this seminar.
   Finally Prof. Dr. Patrick Devlieger spoke about the role of the Congregation of the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts in Leuven, the city of Leuven, and the Catholic University of Louvain in this matter. After the coffee break, the evening concluded with a moment of silence in the crypt of Father Damien. This seminar was a much appreciated initiative.

On Saturday, 21 September, the ‘Moving Borders’ group organized a picnic for peace, an activity to support the house for refugees that was led by Fr. Dirk de Vis. With the sale of food, donated by Poverello, an entity that leads a community restaurant in Leuven, and by individuals, as well as of beverage, raised money for the work. There was live music and a workshop to raise awareness on the reality of those who have to leave their country in difficult conditions. There were about 300 people and the collection reached almost 1200 euros.

Lectures in the Damien Center have begun again. The first of a series of three on the Second Vatican Council, fifty years later, was given by Juliaan Vandekerhove sscc, the Provincial of Flanders, on 25 September.

For seven consecutive years, Ferry Indrianto sscc and Juan Carlos Tinjacá sscc of the Damien Center, participated in the activity on ‘Mission in All Colors’ organized by the youth department of the Vicariate of Brabant Flemish and aimed at children (10 12 years) who are preparing for confirmation. There were about 2,000 children. Ferry and Juan Carlos presented the figure of Father Damien through a music workshop and the game of the goose.

On 4 October, Javier Álvarez-Ossorio sscc, the Superior General, visited Damien Center and met Mr. Ruben Boon, the project coordinator.

We have the visit of the Groups: Leven Zuid Pax Christi, with a conference on nuclear weapons (2 October) and the group ICEL (International Church of Evangelicals Leuven) with a theme party to bid farewell to their leader who was going on mission.