Joseph Dutton

Joseph Dutton [His Memoirs]: The Story of Forty-four Years of Service Among the Lepers of Molokai, Hawaii

Is Brother Dutton, born in Stowe in 1843, worthy of consideration for sainthood for his 44 years of service to the 19th-century leper colony at Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai? Two people who served with Dutton were recently proclaimed saints — St. Damien and St. Marianne Cope.

The Catholic Church has asked Bishop Larry Silva of Hawaii to investigate Brother Dutton’s worthiness to be the third saint of Molokai.

On Tuesday, April 27, Blessed Sacrament Church in Stowe will celebrate Dutton’s 178th birthday with Mass, at 5:30 p.m., followed by a tour around the church describing the 12 panels on the side of the church that portray life at the leper colony.

The recognition of Brother Dutton has been a passion for many in Stowe, especially the late Gerry Kirchner, who made several visits to Hawaii and received the Dutton Award for Service in 2008. The von Trapp Singers paid their respects to Fr. Damien and Br. Dutton at their gravesites on Molokai in 1952.

In 2018, Monsignor Routhier traveled with several pilgrims to Honolulu to attend the annual conference for St. Damien and St. Marianne Cope.

This year, Father Jon Schnobrich will be a keynote speaker for the conference. Sister Cheryl Wint, conference organizer, will be at Mass on Thursday.

All are welcome to honor Brother Dutton. The outside tour will begin at 6:15 p.m.

Blessed Sacrament was built in 1949 on the farm where Brother Dutton was born. French artist Andre Girard painted the 12 panels on the sides of the church that tell the story of the leper colony and Father Damien, Brother Dutton and Sister Marianne Cope. The artwork is the connection between these servants of Molokai and several generations of worshipers at Blessed Sacrament.

“Painting on Light” by Josephine Belloso details the restoration of the 36 windows and the panels. The book will be available after Mass for a $50 donation to the church art restoration fund. Matt Strong examines and repairs the exterior panels periodically to keep the panels in good condition in spite of the harsh Vermont weather.

Recent pastor, Monsignor Peter Routhier, commissioned a short film in 2018, “Remembering Brother Dutton” by Stowe’s Heath Eiden that captures the essence of Brother Dutton’s service through the artwork on the church exterior. Watch the video at bscvt.com.

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