LAIE, Hawaii — Soon after the Catholic Church canonized Saint Damien of Molokai in October 2009, largely for his 19th century work at the leprosy or Hansen's Disease quarantine settlement on the isolated Kalaupapa Peninsula, senior service missionaries in the Polynesian Cultural Center's Hawaii Mission Settlement began wondering how they might add that information to the exhibit in the small, thatched-roof chapel that tells how Christianity came to the islands.__IMAGE1__They had no idea, however, that the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Honolulu would respond by presenting the PCC and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with a unique certificate "in gratitude for the collaboration" of St. Damien and Jonathan Napela, a traditional Hawaiian ali'i or chief who was among the earliest converts and leaders in the Sandwich Islands Mission. The lives and stories of the two men became inseparably entwined at Kalaupapa in the 1870s.The Most Rev. Clarence "Larry" Silva presented the certificate to Von D. Orgill, president and CEO of the Cultural Center, and Area Seventy Elder Scott D. Whiting, during a meeting on May 7, 2010, that began with flower lei greetings and a Hawaiian chant. Also participating in the presentation were Father Marc Alexander, Vicar General for the Honolulu Diocese; Steven C. Wheelwright, president, Brigham Young University-Hawaii; R. Eric Beaver, president and CEO of Hawaii Reserves Inc., and his assistant, Steve Keali'iwahamana Hoag; John A. "Jack" Hoag, Hawaii public affairs director for the church; and Elder Marshall and Sister Jolene Ogden, the service missionaries, as well as several other PCC officers and leaders.Bishop Silva said that though the two men belonged to different churches, they worked closely together at Kalaupapa in selfless service to the patients; and that each eventually contracted the dreaded disease, died from it and were buried there. St. Damien once described Napela as his "yoke-mate" in the work.Josef de Veuster left his native Belgium and was ordained Father Damien, SS.CC., soon after arriving in Honolulu in 1864. Following nine years of ministering on the island of Hawaii, he volunteered to serve at Kalaupapa, which the Kingdom of Hawaii had established as a confinement colony for Hansen's Disease patients in 1865. By early 1885 it was confirmed that Father Damien was a patient as well as a priest. He died from the ravages of the disease in 1889 at age 49.Napela, who was among the first Hawaiian chiefly children educated at Lahainaluna by Protestant New England missionaries, helped Elder George Q. Cannon translate the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian soon after joining the church. He also served as a missionary and helped establish a short-lived church settlement on the island of Lanai as well as the Laie Plantation in 1865. In 1869 he traveled to Utah where he became the first known Hawaiian to receive temple endowments and be ordained a seventy. When his wife, Kitty — once described as the most beautiful woman in Hawaii, was diagnosed with Hansen's Disease in 1873, Napela chose to leave his leadership responsibilities behind and accompany her to Kalaupapa as a non-patient kokua, or helper. He soon began working with Father Damien, but he, too, became a patient within one year and died on Aug. 6, 1879. His wife died a short time later."They chose to go where others did not want to go. They went there to serve. They brought hope where there was little hope, and light where there was great darkness; and so, they are our heroes," Bishop Silva said.__IMAGE2__"We know that 120 years after his death, the Catholic Church — which is very meticulous about the process — decided to name Father Damien a saint, an official citizen of heaven, if you will. We are thankful for that," Bishop Silva continued. He also explained the Catholic Church canonizes worthy individuals "so that they can inspire us, so that they can teach us something about service and the devotion to God that is so important in our lives."Bishop Silva indicated he had visited Kalaupapa the week before, and found it "now to be a very sacred place, but it wasn't always. I think that Damien and Jonathan Napela and so many others took their faith there and made it a sacred place.""Leprosy is not a big disease in our country, but there are 'leprosies' in our culture: attacks against marriage and the family, attacks against children, the dissolution of our school and educational system...attacks in our home or the leprosy of domestic violence, the leprosy of homelessness and the hungry among us.""We are still called to be there, where maybe we would rather not go, where we might be a little more uncomfortable, where we might have to get a little dirty, or beat up ourselves," Bishop Silva said. "So, we thank God that He has given us these examples in following people who were so dedicated to God and service to neighbors. Nothing could hold them back from whatever needed to be done."On behalf of the church, Elder Whiting thanked Bishop Silva and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu for the certificate that represents "two faiths coming together to help lift suffering." Elder Whiting also noted that after he worked on Molokai for about five years, he found looking at the peninsula from the sea cliffs above and reading about the Kalaupapa settlement was a spiritual experience "that has left a deep impression on my soul."__IMAGE3__Elder Whiting said he was particularly touched by three things: the harsh conditions, the meager living the exiled patients encountered in the past, and the "unforgiving and horrific nature of the disease" which brought the patients there."Why they succumbed, we don't know, but the pain and anguish is something that will long be with me." He added he was also struck by the "great and abiding faith" the patients had, "which I'm sure the first two conditions helped to seal in their hearts and minds.""I can't help but look at this wonderful example," Elder Whiting continued, pointing at an original print by Hawaii artist Dietrich Varez, "The Canonization of Damien," that illustrates the certificate, "and think of Jonathan Napela — for whom we have great respect in the LDS faith, and their uniting themselves in those difficult circumstances to serve, to lift, and to help ease the suffering of others.""How blessed we are today to enjoy still yet, from our perspective, a wonderful working relationship between our faiths as we continue to work in areas of common interest, as we help try to lift and ease some of the suffering we see and experience today.""On behalf of the church, Bishop Silva and Father Alexander, with our deepest respect we give thanks to you. We look forward to a wonderful, continued interfaith relationship as we work on these common issues."Commenting on the visitors who come to the Polynesian Cultural Center, Orgill said many of them "really feel the spirit of aloha. It's our firm belief that the spirit of aloha is really the Spirit of the Lord that shines through the lives of those who are followers of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and who are trying their best to live his teachings."Orgill said this leads him to think of St. Damien and Jonathan Napela and "the lives that they lived and how selflessly they gave themselves and everything that they had to live for, love and care for others. I can't think of a better couple we could emulate or honor on such an occasion, and every day."Orgill thanked Bishop Silva for "allowing us the opportunity to share this message with the people who come here from everywhere in the world." Then, following Polynesian custom, he presented the Catholic bishop with a gift: a hand-carved Hawaiian koa wood paddle, which represents that "we're all on a journey, and hopefully, we're much more often paddling together, trying to make good things happen, to preserve in the world the things that are worth preserving, and to share those things with everyone that we know, love, care about and associate with."In addition to the new certificate, Jonathan Napela also continues to be remembered in Laie, where a heroic-sized statue outside the BYU-Hawaii Cannon Activities Center recognizes him and George Q. Cannon for their work in translating the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian. The school's Hawaiian Studies program is also named in Napela's honor.