Damien of Molokai vs. Frances Perkins

Holy Blowout Week continued yesterday as Benedict took Anne to the (holy vestment) cleaners. Today, features the long-anticipated match-up between Big Pineapple and Big Lobster as the Hawaiian Damien of Molokai takes on the Mainer Frances Perkins. Can the Hawaii lobby do for Damien what it did for Queen Emma last year? Last year’s Lent Madness cinderella, Emma, rode the wave all the way to the finals. Will Damien have a similar run or will he be pounded into the surf by Frances?

In other news, the Supreme Executive Committee answered some critics even as they prepare to co-lead a workshop today titled “Stealth Christian Formation” at the CEEP conference in San Diego. They’re amazing multi-taskers (with enough coffee and a deadline).

What’s that you say? You haven’t liked us on Facebook or followed us on Twitter or whatever it is you do for Pinterest? Get inside the mind of the men and women behind the Madness and like, follow, become our disciples, join our cult, etc, today!

damidrawDamien of Molokai

Jozef de Veuster was born to a Flemish corn merchant in 1840. His fondest dream was to be a missionary-priest like his hero, St. Francis Xavier, but his teachers thought he was unintelligent and delayed his ordination. Finally, he was ordained, taking the name Damien and was eventually sent overseas, taking the place of his brother, who had fallen ill.

He arrived in the kingdom of Hawaii on March 19, 1864, and was assigned initially to his order’s mission on Oahu. But Damien had landed in a community struggling with the effects of colonialism, including foreign diseases to which Hawaiians had no immunity. One of these was leprosy, and in 1865, the kingdom’s government set up quarantines for the afflicted on the island of Molokai, fearing a complete epidemic.

The government’s plan was for the lepers’ colonies to grow their own food and to be largely self-sustaining. This plan had some major logic-holes in it, however, and after a while, it became clear to the local bishop that the people were in trouble. A priest was needed in Molokai but he was reluctant to assign anyone fearing the assignment would be tantamount to a death sentence.

After much prayer, in 1873, Damien volunteered. In May, he arrived in Molokai, and promptly set to work. He lived as one of the people. He set up a church, schools, and farms. He tended gardens and built houses. He organized activities and choirs for the living. He built coffins and dug graves for the dying. When his agreed-upon time was up, the lepers and Fr. Damien went to the bishop, and asked if he could remain with them. The bishop agreed, and Fr. Damien stayed on.

Six months after his arrival on Molokai, Damien wrote back to his brother in Belgium, “I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ.” His words turned out to be prescient. In 1884 he was diagnosed with the disease himself and died on Molokai in April, 1889.

After his death, his fame spread. After being attacked by an anti-Catholic Presbyterian minister, Robert Louis Stevenson (yes, that Robert Louis Stevenson) wrote an open letter defending him, and no less than Mahatma Ghandi claimed Fr. Damien as an inspiration for his work with the outcast. He was made a saint in the Roman church in October of 2009.

Collect for Damien of Molokai
God of compassion, we bless your Name for the ministries of Damien [and Marianne,] who ministered to the lepers abandoned on Molokai in the Hawaiian Islands. Help us, following their examples, to be bold and loving in confronting the incurable plagues of our time, that your people may live in health and hope; through Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Megan Castellan

 perkinswithpressFrances Perkins

Born in Boston in 1880 with roots in Maine, Frances Perkins studied at Mount Holyoke College and completed a masters degree in economics and sociology at Columbia University. While working as a young woman in Chicago, she was drawn to the Episcopal Church and confirmed in 1905.

At 31, working for the Factory Investigation Commission in New York City, she witnessed the Triangle Shirtwaist fire that resulted in the death of 146 people, primarily young women factory workers. Perkins often said later, “The New Deal was born on March 25, 1911.” That experience galvanized her career as an advocate for workers. At a time when few women enjoyed a professional career after marriage and children, Perkins was spurred in her career by the emergence of her husband’s mental illness and his inability to earn an income. As the mother of a young daughter, she understood on a deep personal level the importance of work and the urgency of supporting a family.

In 1918, New York Governor Al Smith invited her serve in his administration and, with the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt to governor in 1928, she was named Commissioner of Labor. When he was elected to the presidency in 1932, Roosevelt asked Perkins to serve as his Secretary of Labor, the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet and the longest-serving cabinet member in U.S. history.

Roosevelt called her “the cornerstone of his administration” for her tireless work in gaining passage of the Social Security Act of 1935 and the Fair Labor Standards of 1938 which established the minimum wage and prohibited child labor in most workplaces. Other New Deal efforts championed by Perkins included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), unemployment insurance, a shorter work week, and worker safety regulations.

She has been called Roosevelt’s moral conscience. Donn Mitchell, in his 2010 profile of Frances Perkins published at www.AnglicanExaminer.com, “Architect of the Gracious Society,” suggests she was the “most overtly religious and theologically articulate member of the New Deal team.” Throughout her 12 years as Secretary she took a monthly retreat with the Episcopal order of All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor, with whom she was a lay associate

“I came to Washington to serve God, FDR, and millions of forgotten, plain common workingmen,” she said. Her theology of generosity informed her professional life and, in turn, transformed the lives of millions of Americans.

She remained active in teaching, social justice advocacy, and in the mission of the Episcopal Church until her death in 1965.

Collect for Frances Perkins  
Loving God, whose Name is blest for Frances Perkins, who lived out her belief that the special vocation of the laity is to conduct the secular affairs of society that all may be maintained in health and decency: Help us, following her example, to contend tirelessly for justice and for the protection of all in need, that we may be faithful followers of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Heidi Shott

UPDATE: At 2:06 a.m. EST, the SEC noticed some irregular voting in this contest. About 200 votes were cast from one address in Arizona on behalf of Damien. Those votes have been deleted, and the address has been banned.


Damien of Molokai vs. Frances Perkins

  • Frances Perkins (50%, 2,339 Votes)
  • Damien of Molokai (45%, 2,107 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,444

Loading ... Loading ...

177 Comments to "Damien of Molokai vs. Frances Perkins"

  1. March 1, 2013 - 8:01 am | Permalink

    The Archbishop have released this special update video just for this first round contest:

  2. March 1, 2013 - 8:01 am | Permalink

    The Archbishops have released this special update video just for this first round contest:

    • Betty Morris, LCSW's Gravatar Betty Morris, LCSW
      March 1, 2013 - 4:04 pm | Permalink

      As a social worker, I had to vote for my fellow social worker, Frances. When I first heard her story, it inspired me and as someone now partly dependent on social security, I have a new appreciation. She set up the social security act so that congress could not regularly raid it when they were in need of money. Hopefully, she is praying for us in the nearer presence of God in this present situation.

  3. Marj's Gravatar Marj
    March 1, 2013 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    This was a difficult choice but in the end I picked Francis. I did not know about her connection with Aa Saints Convent in Catonsville. They are a wonderful community. Religious communities are a wonderful and essential spiritual resource and life choice.

    • Emmetri Monica Beane's Gravatar Emmetri Monica Beane
      March 1, 2013 - 9:13 am | Permalink

      I was sad when the sisters made the decision to separate from the Episcopal Church in September 2009. They are now a Roman Catholic community. I had an encounter with one of the sisters which will always stay with me.

  4. Amelia+'s Gravatar Amelia+
    March 1, 2013 - 8:13 am | Permalink

    Damian was a brave man, who truly followed Christ as a religious. Frances saw the needs of the working poor and did something about it, following Christ in her time and place as a lay person. My early career in occupational health and learning about the horror of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, living in Maine, getting Social Security, and going to the church that Frances Perkins attended, how could I not vote for her.

  5. A Maine Woman's Gravatar A Maine Woman
    March 1, 2013 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    I hope that all the laborers, women, and retirees who depend on Social Security get in their vote for Frances Perkins. Thanks to our “esteemed” governor, she has been poorly treated of late. I love the match ups between today’s heroes and saints. It shows that Christ is very much at work in our modern world despite rumors to the contrary. These match-ups are also a great way to take the temperature and pulse of today’s Church.
    Keep up the great work. My Lent is enriched by learning about those great men and women who have paved the way.

    • Relling Westfall's Gravatar Relling Westfall
      March 1, 2013 - 9:04 am | Permalink

      Well said, Big Lobster

    • Beth's Gravatar Beth
      March 1, 2013 - 9:21 am | Permalink

      Amen, Maine Woman

    • Julie's Gravatar Julie
      March 1, 2013 - 2:13 pm | Permalink

      yes, well said indeed

  6. March 1, 2013 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Two remarkable servant people. I went with Francis due to a connection to the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and because her devotion touched so many lives (still does), both in and out of the Episcommunity. Good choices whoever does the bracketing and great write-ups mighty CBs.

  7. Paul Rosbolt's Gravatar Paul Rosbolt
    March 1, 2013 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    Very tough choice today. Tons of respect for Frances Perkins, but had to go with Damien. Prediction: this will be neck and neck all day and Big Pineapple will put Damien over the top.

  8. March 1, 2013 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    This is a tough choice. I noted my affection for St. Francis Xavier during the battle of the “Iggys.” So Damien’s connection and profound ministry has always touched me deeply. But recent history with an Episcopalian who lived her life as a manifestation of her spirituality while serving in government gets my vote on the day when so many foolish and shortsighted politicians impose the implications of the sequester on all of us. Frances, we need to hear your voice again. Anyone who could get and keep Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s attention is sorely needed now.

    • Mollie Douglas Turner's Gravatar Mollie Douglas Turner
      March 1, 2013 - 11:36 am | Permalink

      Thanks, William, for saying it so well TODAY of all days (what are those people thinking?)! I was leaning toward Frances, though I’ve long admired Fr. Damien’s astounding courage and dedication in the face of crippling, contagious disease and prejudice; you’ve pushed me over: Frances Perkins gets my vote for being a truly committed, public, least-of-these-minded follower of Christ in a world that even then was setting God aside and touting its own ability to save humanity.

  9. Relling Westfall's Gravatar Relling Westfall
    March 1, 2013 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    I remember Damien from earlier years, I think. And I think I voted for him in a previous bracket, unless there are multiple saints who lived with lepers in Hawaii. I am very impressed with Frances’ bio. Even though I knew about her, I did not know of her religious faith and connections and that her faith had informed her work. This is an extremely difficult match-up. Today I will vote for Frances.

    • March 1, 2013 - 2:32 pm | Permalink

      There actually were several saints who lived with the colony at Molokai. Sr. Marianne Cope is also recognized as a saint in our church, and she followed on Damien’s heels. She might be the person you remember.

  10. Sal Barreca's Gravatar Sal Barreca
    March 1, 2013 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    As a socialist, I’m all about the power of the people, making Frances a compelling selection. But how do deny a vote to someone who is a “leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ.” Damien found a way to live the core of Christianity. So while Frances’ actions are commendable, Daimen is truly saint-worthy. Vote Damien!

  11. Tarheel's Gravatar Tarheel
    March 1, 2013 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    Father Damien and the Pineapple Express! There was no hope for leprosy or Hansen’s disease in those days. In his own way, the man was a miracle worker. He helped so many to live within the limits of their disease.

  12. March 1, 2013 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    I’m voting for the Episcopalian lay woman here, but not because of the Collect, which is unbeautiful.

  13. Russ's Gravatar Russ
    March 1, 2013 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Damien is an example of pure service to those who are most in need.

    Frances was a good, well meaning person in a corrupt circumstance whose great beginning has led us to the inevitable unintended consequences of the corrupted system we have today.

    • Old Mac's Gravatar Old Mac
      March 1, 2013 - 11:00 am | Permalink

      Amen, Russ

    • William Loring's Gravatar William Loring
      March 1, 2013 - 4:08 pm | Permalink

      I must agree with you, Russ. Damien put his whole life including the physical labor of caring for hi charges. Frances was indeed well-meaning, and I’m sure her intentions really grew out of her Christian faith; but in the end it was a matter of spending O(ther) P(eople’s) M(oney), sometimes more wisely than others. I guess I should admit to some lack of enthusiasm for Socialism, even without Marxist overtones.

  14. Scott Elliott's Gravatar Scott Elliott
    March 1, 2013 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    This pair epitomizes the two responses a person of faith might take to sociopolitical evil: bottom-up and top-down. Or, to put it another way (either more or less crass depending on one’s view): wholesale and retail.

    It’s hard to choose between them. In both instances, in both milieux, the Body has a rightful and needful place, and each of these exemplars made a bold and, each in her or his own way, a heroic witness to the love of God.

    • Marjorie Menaul's Gravatar Marjorie Menaul
      March 2, 2013 - 8:58 am | Permalink

      Both are powerful examples of faithfulness, and they are indeed models of two different ways of living out their faith. Since we have so few examples of holiness within the political sphere (apart from royalty, whom I don’t count), and so great a need for more, I have to vote for Frances.

  15. MammaK1947's Gravatar MammaK1947
    March 1, 2013 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    This one will be close. They both are wonderful explars of “living the mission.” I had to vote for Frances because of her New England roots!

  16. Dawn's Gravatar Dawn
    March 1, 2013 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    Tough one. ‘Had to go with martyr Damien. Can I vote for Frances tomorrow, please??

  17. RVAAnglican's Gravatar RVAAnglican
    March 1, 2013 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    I voted for Damien but this battle did exactly what Lent Madness is designed to do. It introduced me to the life and witness of a saint of the church I had never heard of, Frances Perkins. I read her story and can only think, “may I go and do likewise!”

  18. Skip's Gravatar Skip
    March 1, 2013 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    And I thought this one would be easy with Damien of Molokai winning handily. After reading the bio of Frances Perkins it became clear how difficult this choice would be. While she represented the ‘forgotten man” of the 1930’s; it is the man who made himself “a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ” that gets my vote.

  19. Halo Linda's Gravatar Halo Linda
    March 1, 2013 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    A woman, an Episcopalian and lobster – it’s gotta be Frances.

  20. Laurie Atwater's Gravatar Laurie Atwater
    March 1, 2013 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    Another tough choice! The ferrets were relentless…

  21. John Clemens's Gravatar John Clemens
    March 1, 2013 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t help but be reminded of the poem/song, “Bread and Roses” sung by Judy Collins:
    As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,For the people hear us singing: “Bread and roses! Bread and roses!”As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,For they are women’s children, and we mother them again.Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women deadGo crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.Yes, it is bread we fight for — but we fight for roses, too!As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.The rising of the women means the rising of the race.No more the drudge and idler — ten that toil where one reposes,But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!
    It had to be Frances.

    • Laurie Atwater's Gravatar Laurie Atwater
      March 1, 2013 - 9:28 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the ear-worm, John! I’ve got to pull it up and listen to it now…lol…but you are right, and that goes a long way to explain my early vote for Frances!

    • Gillian B's Gravatar Gillian B
      March 1, 2013 - 9:41 am | Permalink

      Thanks, John! I too loved that song and listened to it many times (and cried) over the years. Tough choice, but ended up with Frances.

    • Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
      March 1, 2013 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing the whole song. I’ve seen the title, but somehow missed the words.
      Still undecided on the vote, though.

  22. Susie's Gravatar Susie
    March 1, 2013 - 9:02 am | Permalink

    They’re both so deserving of our votes!! The selfless giving of Damien was amazing, but for her important accomplishments for workers, I’ll have to go w/Frances–loved her “going to DC to serve God, FDR & ..working…” Does anyone know more about the Marianne from Damien’s collect to satisfy my curiosity? Thanks. Good luck in SD & enjoy their weather!

    • Raggs Ragan's Gravatar Raggs Ragan
      March 1, 2013 - 9:30 am | Permalink

      I learned about Marianne when I was creating a book of reflections on the new calendar of Holy People for my parish: Eventually medical help came in the last years of Father Damien’s life and other devoted individuals came to carry on his work. One of these was Mother Marianne a Franciscan nun who had early in life immigrated from Germany and had been a teacher as well as founder and director of a hospital in Syracuse, New York, when she was called to this new work to which she gave the rest of her life. At first, she worked in a hospital in Honolulu where patients were brought before confinement in the colony. Then she moved to Moloka’i where she cared for the ailing Father Damien and took over much of his work. Mother Marianne never contracted the disease herself, but remained in the colony, devotedly serving the people for 30 years until her own death.

  23. Gwin Hanahan's Gravatar Gwin Hanahan
    March 1, 2013 - 9:11 am | Permalink

    Lepers or those even suspected (or accused) of having the disease were summarily sailed over to Molokai from the other islands and, at some distance from the shore, were shoved into the sea to either sink or to swim to the island. Women were immediately abused and claimed by one or more of the men. Children usually died quickly. There was no law, order, justice, dependable food, clothing or shelter…only the brutality of those without hope, lost in hell, and suffering horribly. Fr. Damien chose to go there.

  24. Peg's Gravatar Peg
    March 1, 2013 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    This is a much harder choice than I expected it would be. I almost had to resort to the tossing of the sacred coin. But in the end, with an admiring nod to Ms. Perkins, I decided to Go Hawaiian. Fr. Damien’s brave, loving ministry to the abandoned is deeply moving. He gave his all.

  25. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    March 1, 2013 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    Wow. Wow. Wow. One of the toughest choices so far, in a year of very tough choices. I knew a little bit about Damien. I knew nothing of Frances. I was thrilled to learn more about both. Damien’s sacrafice and dedication were wonderful, but my heart is leaning towards Frances, for all she did for the American people in a time of need. Since I am a big fan of the works of the CCC, her involvement with that also swayed my vote.

    Besides, I suspect that Big Lobster needs more help than Big Pineapple.

  26. Andrea Harles's Gravatar Andrea Harles
    March 1, 2013 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    It is so interesting the way the lives of the saints we vote for intersect with the day’s events. Today the sequester begins because so many view government as the enemy. Bashing government workers is common. Yesterday a bill was introduced (for the 10th time) to establish a study for a Women’s History Museum on the Mall. Today Frances Perkins, who got my vote, exemplifies the effective and even holy work that government can accomplish. As I read the collect for Fr. Damien, I noticed Marianne in brackets. Who is she? I’d never heard of her. Strange since Damien has been one of my heroes since the beginning of the AIDs epidemic. So I wiki’ed her, found a new hero, and underscored the real need for a women’s history museum. Too many women doing incredible work that we just don’t know about until we dig deeply.

  27. March 1, 2013 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    I was all set to vote for Fr Damien – a true martyr and modern-day Francis. His biography is an inspiration to anyone (even Ghandi-ji!) I had never heard of Ms. Perkins. Once I read her bio, I knew Fr. Damien would want me to vote for her; that’s the kind of man Damien was, and Ms. Perkins gifts to me are too precious not to acknowledge today.

    • sue poet's Gravatar sue poet
      March 1, 2013 - 11:35 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Peach. I was having a very tough time making my decision, but you cleared my mind. I will vote for Ms. Perkins who not only did good for 1000,s but had to deal with her husband’s mental illness. No one knows what that is like. Still I wish such two deserving people have to be pitted against each other so early in the brackets.

  28. Beth's Gravatar Beth
    March 1, 2013 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    Great match up, difficult choice. I went with Frances; a wife, a mother surrounded by difficult choices. She served well and her legacy continues (and yes, I grant that not all will find this a good thing) and serves as a beacon to laity engaged in living their faith in the world.

  29. Christina O'Hara+'s Gravatar Christina O'Hara+
    March 1, 2013 - 9:32 am | Permalink

    Powerful stories, each of them! Both gave their lives for the poor and outcast, but judging from the goosebumps that I feel when I read of Damien’s sacrifice, I had to go for him.

  30. March 1, 2013 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    I’d say this was a diabolical match up but Damien and Frances are truly icons of Christ and the Gospel. Beth, I agree! Frances does serve as a beacon to laity engaged in living their faith in the world. She shows us what it means to be Christian.

  31. Nancy Grear's Gravatar Nancy Grear
    March 1, 2013 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    I have to go with Frances. How to live a life grounded in faith and action seems so relevant today.

  32. March 1, 2013 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    I’m going pineapple over lobster today (never enough meat on lobsters anyway and to order two just seems indecent). What Perkins did protecting child laborers and establishing minimum wage was so important, and mayeven have trumped Damien’s decision to go to Molokai. But then he asked for more; he asked to stay, eventually contracting the disease himself. As the Ward Superiod for the Blessed Constance and her companions chapter of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, I hear Constance’s story echo Damien’s and so cast my vote for the Hawaiian leper missionary.

  33. Martha Watson's Gravatar Martha Watson
    March 1, 2013 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    Wow. This is a tough call…..I’m glad to see others struggled too. Damien is a model of commitment and giving; Perkins a model for making Christianity matter in the world. I initially thought I would vote for Damien but find myself drawn to Perkins. Thanks for letting us know more about two incredible folks.

  34. Lauren Stanley's Gravatar Lauren Stanley
    March 1, 2013 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    This one is really, really hard … Even though I knew whom I had chosen for my bracket, I still wavered this morning. Damien a model for Gandhi? Oh, my. Frances watching out for millions during the worst economic depression this country had ever seen? Oh, my. For the sake of my bracket – I voted Frances. I shall be happy with either winner.

  35. Edna's Gravatar Edna
    March 1, 2013 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    Looking forward to today’s match-up I was fully prepared to cast my vote for Damien. The fictional book “Moloka’i” by Alan Brennert introduced me to Damien and the struggles of that community. BUT, my father was employed by the CCC and this saw the family through those very tough times. I had to go with Frances Perkins for being the force behind the food on my mother’s table. Also as a displaced New Englander, I long for lobster.

  36. Allison Askins's Gravatar Allison Askins
    March 1, 2013 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    What a tortured choice today — those blasted ferrets! How to choose only one?!
    A man who “built coffins and dug graves for the dying” is truly a saint, especially knowing that he lived among the lepers and knew that was the only way to minister with them, but then, there is Frances whose work has so affected my parents’ lives today, and I suspect, had an impact on my grandparents’ lives as well. But I think I shall go with Damien as I consider how forgotten the lepers must have felt until his arrival. That is holy work not many of us would do. But thank you, Frances. Thank you so very much.

  37. JoAnn's Gravatar JoAnn
    March 1, 2013 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Both touched me, both deserve — can we have a tie for the Golden Halo like the Academy Awards? In the end I went with Damien — even Ghandi was inspired by him. I’ve always been fascinated by stories of the leper colonies. But Frances…. to work for the people, inspired by the great tragedy of the Triange Shirtwaist Fire. Tough, tough choice.

  38. March 1, 2013 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    For many personal reasons, not least of all the isolation and lonliness inherent in his vocation, voting for Damien.

  39. Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson's Gravatar Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson
    March 1, 2013 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    I only have to look at my retirement check each month and see the SS portion to know who helped make it possible. As a non-stipendiary VocDeac, I don’t owe the Pension Fund any thanks but I surely do owe Frances Perkins! I worked some 40+years in classrooms of the good ole US of A for those ducats! My parents didn’t fare that well due to their age so “Thanks!” Sister Frances for enabling me to eat decently, keep the heat on, and fill up the gas tank……Oh! and pay the mortgage…and make my monthly church pledge…the vestry thanks you, too, for the last one.

    • Marge's Gravatar Marge
      March 1, 2013 - 10:55 am | Permalink


  40. Marcia Christy's Gravatar Marcia Christy
    March 1, 2013 - 9:46 am | Permalink

    This series is amazing ! I look forward to the scenios andenjoy the history I am learnng

  41. March 1, 2013 - 9:46 am | Permalink

    “I came to Washington to serve God, FDR, and millions of forgotten, plain common workingmen,” she said. Her theology of generosity informed her professional life and, in turn, transformed the lives of millions of Americans. This phrase resonates with me as I watch how our elected officials appear to put partisanship and self interest over the well being of “plain common American men and women.” Frances is an inspiration for all of us – she received my vote.

  42. Rob's Gravatar Rob
    March 1, 2013 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    this should not even be a contest! Damien volunteered his life – literally – in a foreign land, under foreign dominion, with the dying and outcast. In contrast, Ms Perkins had it quite “easy” – well educated and the dinner guest of the Washington elite. Yes, she did use her position to do good, but she never “went to work in the ‘factory.” She had Roosevelt has her champion while Damian had Ghandi!

    • Anna's Gravatar Anna
      March 1, 2013 - 11:04 am | Permalink

      I too was struck that Damian lived in hard, hard conditions and knowingly gave his life. Frances Perkins is truly inspirational and I am so glad to know more about her. But, Damian is the saint here. Go Pineapples!

  43. milkmaidgoddess's Gravatar milkmaidgoddess
    March 1, 2013 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    Yeah for Frances Perkins!! I was going to apply for the scholarship in her memory for older students, but didn’t have the backup from my ex! but she rocks!!

  44. Phil Harrington's Gravatar Phil Harrington
    March 1, 2013 - 9:51 am | Permalink

    If it weren’t for the sequestration, I don’t think I could’ve decided. My vote for Frances was a statement to Wash.D.C. But actually, Damien might be showing all of us an equally valid direction to go in such a world.

  45. MaryaK's Gravatar MaryaK
    March 1, 2013 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    Voted for Damien last year, BUT reading about Frances Perkins is a revelation. (That’s how Lent Madness’s “serious silliness” expands awareness.)
    A lay woman who lives her faith and the gospel in her daily life and work gets my vote today. And what an effect she had for millions. There are many ways to serve.

  46. Katrina Soto's Gravatar Katrina Soto
    March 1, 2013 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    Love the deep faith of Damien, but had to go Big Lobster, because my life is so directly impacted by the work of Frances. Furthermore, I love seeing this example of a lay person doing the work and ministry Christ has called us to do.

  47. Barbara Traxler's Gravatar Barbara Traxler
    March 1, 2013 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    This is the most difficult choice yet. Both are an example of Christ in the world. But in the end it was Fr. Damien’s courage in the face of life threatening obstacles that swayed my vote. The courage and faith it took to volunteer, then to actually go, to choose to stay and to minister to the forgotten, is an example of all that one looks for in a Saint. Frances was a wonderful person and lived out her call to serve Christ in all persons, but my heart is with Damien (and Mother Marianne).

    • Lucy Alonzo's Gravatar Lucy Alonzo
      March 1, 2013 - 10:07 am | Permalink

      I agree it was an extremely difficult choice! I wound up voting for Frances however on the grounds that her example is more closely relevant for most of us participating in Lent Madness, and therefore I would like to see her advance and have another opportunity to educate us all.

  48. Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
    March 1, 2013 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    One of the best match-ups so far, and a good example of The Madness: I picked Frances in my bracket (and do think she will win) but Damien’s story pierces me to the heart and I voted for him.

  49. Joy's Gravatar Joy
    March 1, 2013 - 10:02 am | Permalink

    Went with Frances today. Lay folks doing the work in the world is always a great example that all are called to be faithful wherever in their lives they might – bloom where you are planted, my mother is fond of saying. Damien, though, is an amazing, incredible example of living as Christ, being Christ, and reflecting Christ. This was a hard choice. I’m blessed to contemplate them both this day.

  50. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    March 1, 2013 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    I respect Fr. Damien’s calling but am voting for Frances Perkins for her dedication to workers.

  51. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    March 1, 2013 - 10:10 am | Permalink

    Wonderful write-ups today; I was immediately moved by Fr. Damien’s story, and voted for him with only a little hesitation. Was glad to read above about Mother Marianne, too. Although I had never heard his story before, Wikipedia says that “In the Anglican communion, as well as other denominations of Christianity, Damien is considered the spiritual patron for leprosy and outcasts.” (The whole article is an interesting read, BTW: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_Damien )

    The Lord is glorious in his saints!

    • Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
      March 1, 2013 - 10:39 am | Permalink

      Come let us adore him.

      • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
        March 1, 2013 - 12:07 pm | Permalink


  52. Florence's Gravatar Florence
    March 1, 2013 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    Thank you for including Marianne Cope in the collect for Damien. So few people know of this courageous American nun who took over the care of Damien’s lepers when he was dying. Maybe she can be in the brackets next year.

  53. March 1, 2013 - 10:17 am | Permalink

    For many personal reasons, not least because of the isolation and lonliness inherent in his vocation, voting for Damien.
    . . . and I know it was the style of the day, but it’s unfortunate that Frances Perkins is wearing a fox — OK with my beagles, of course, but the cats and I are not amused.

    • Anna's Gravatar Anna
      March 1, 2013 - 10:28 pm | Permalink

      You made me chuckle. Thank you.

  54. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    March 1, 2013 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    Hard decision between two I greatly admire. Finally, as a social worker, had to support Frances!

    • Patty's Gravatar Patty
      March 1, 2013 - 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Yes! It’s the first day of Social Work month!

  55. Jane Knight's Gravatar Jane Knight
    March 1, 2013 - 10:29 am | Permalink

    Very tough choice today, as both are so deserving. Had to go with Frances Perkins, however, since for a number of years I worked for the Labor Department in the building in DC named for her.

  56. cynthia tobola's Gravatar cynthia tobola
    March 1, 2013 - 10:31 am | Permalink

    How AWESOME is Lent Madness! Just learned about it this year and have been very moved by the stories of these holy saints! With respect to critics of Lent Madness, loved the reply from SEC! Amen! I remember reading that Damian had to be rowed out to a ship for a Bishop to hear his confession(because others were afraid they would contact leprosy); he stood in the boat in front of everyone to recite publicly all his sins. His story of sacrifice and his humility reminds me of Paul’s words: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”

  57. Foucault's Gravatar Foucault
    March 1, 2013 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    This was the first really challenging choice….went with Damien…personal sacrifice, in full knowledge of what his death would be. Frances….as a moral compass for a Presidency and a nation…..societal change on a grand level…..but already well recognized.

  58. Steve P's Gravatar Steve P
    March 1, 2013 - 10:45 am | Permalink

    Each were saints in a different way. Damien chose obscurity and deep impact with few people. Frances gets the nod because she has had a tremendous, positive impact on millions. Too many believe that sainthood only means obscurity, poverty, and suffering physical harm. I hope Frances’ story gets out. Yes, a saintly life can also mean living in the intersection of faith and politics. Plus, the name Damien reminds me of that creepy movie.

  59. Michael DeVine's Gravatar Michael DeVine
    March 1, 2013 - 10:50 am | Permalink

    I think Damien’s life and witness was heroic. However, once you decide to stand with the poor and outcast, there is a certain grace that holds you up. He also had a loving community that embraced him. When you slog in the trenches of bureaucracy, the slings and arrows are frequent and the awareness of your individual heroism is less clear. I vote for Frances because I think her efforts required even more faith and perseverance.

  60. Judy's Gravatar Judy
    March 1, 2013 - 10:52 am | Permalink

    Damien! who knowingly went into harm’s way and laid down his life for those outcast and ‘unclean’.

  61. Frosty's Gravatar Frosty
    March 1, 2013 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    Peeked at the bracket and realized Frances could contend against Dr. King in the next round.

  62. JAG's Gravatar JAG
    March 1, 2013 - 11:00 am | Permalink

    I’m a woman and I respect all Frances did, but I had to go with Damien on this one. I have an “invisible” disability; it’s not easy to find people that will support you simply because it’s the good thing to do. It takes a lot of courage to be with people who have any illness or disability without fear; Damien used his love of Christ to lead him.

  63. Marty Garwood's Gravatar Marty Garwood
    March 1, 2013 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    I looked at the brackett and knew it was an obvious choice: voting for Damien because I had never heard of Frances. Then I had go and read the bios and all of a sudden my choice wasn’t so obvious. Had to really think about this morning’s choice. Just goes to show how this craziness called Lent Madness can open me up to new ideas. Thanks for the challenge.

  64. Natalie Doyle-Hennin, Ph.D.'s Gravatar Natalie Doyle-Hennin, Ph.D.
    March 1, 2013 - 11:10 am | Permalink

    What a battle! My RC roots had me “rooting” for Damien. However, rather than consult the Comments first, and inevitably become hopelessly divided against myself when I use this tactic (and, hence, unable to stand for the rest of the day [cf. Lincoln, Abe]), I went on to read about Frances Perkins, whose name was familiar to me, though not the story of her life. As yet another citizen who’s ready to throw a hissy fit because our elected Representatives (they should institute the Lent Madness Bracket Method for electing these people — we might not end up with a crew playing Russian Roulette with all Americans’ because of political shenanigans.

    So, my decision to vote for Frances — today, especially — was based on her ability to walk the fine line as a civil servant and servant of our Creator and fellow citizens while retaining her common sense, these days an uncommon commodity. Her monthly retreats at All Saints Convent in Catonsville, MD demonstrate her desire to be grounded not in the illusion of her power and influence, but in the changes for better these enabled her to implement at a time when real power was the prerogative of white men.

    As for the Lobster, it must contain nourishment that reaches the parts other crustaceans cannot reach, at least in women in Maine with political service in mind. Senator Margaret Chase Smith was a role model for many of us who still remember her. Maine brought us Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, as well. (Apologies to Heineken for borrowing from their beer ad; they’ll probably not sue as beer and lobster are a heavenly repast. Who is it that sang “Gimme some seafood, Mama?!)

    Add to that the fact that my stepson and grandchildren have planted deep roots in Maine (inserting shameless plug here for The Shelter Institute) I voted for Frances.

    Thanks to Tim and Scott for their stealth evangelism and what they’ll share at this weekend’s conference. As a DOK, I consider wearing my cross or just leaving a church bulletin on my dash a form of evangelism. Anything that prompts a question or a comment. You’ve provided us with an arsenal in Lent Madness.

    Blessings, all.

  65. Matt P's Gravatar Matt P
    March 1, 2013 - 11:18 am | Permalink

    In Stowe, Vt, there is a small wooden Catholic church which is quite unique. The outside walls surrounding the church are covered with various murals depicting the work of Father Damien and his involvement with leprosy. The originals murals looked as if they were burned into the surface of the wood, but in recent years, the figures were restored and varnished to protect them from deterioration. I recall that Maria Von Trapp of “Sound of Music” fame supported the work of Father Damien and the colony. My vote is for Damien, altho I prefer lobster to pineapple.

  66. March 1, 2013 - 11:29 am | Permalink

    As a United Methodist Deaconess, I give props to my sister, Frances! We lay women have to stick together!

  67. Anne of Memphis's Gravatar Anne of Memphis
    March 1, 2013 - 11:31 am | Permalink

    Today’s choice is a toughy! These are two saints I admire for their selfless devotion to the Lord as well as to their fellow man. Both Damien and Frances put their money (and efforts) where their mouth is. As a woman who has always worked and been in the trenches, I vote for Frances. May the Lord be with you, Big Lobster, and thank you!

  68. George Werner's Gravatar George Werner
    March 1, 2013 - 11:36 am | Permalink

    Was Seminarian at Frances’ parish during her final years though didn’t have the privilege of connecting… stories about her were amazing…

  69. Theo Laufenberg's Gravatar Theo Laufenberg
    March 1, 2013 - 11:38 am | Permalink

    Although we (Alaskan and Hawaiian time zones) are just waking up to this round, Alaskans share this connection with Damien. We “end of the roaders” understand his interest in going to the ends of the earth/dominion…even if we have to build that “bridge to nowhere”. Count this 49th stater with those of our 50th. Oh, could you please send pineapple please…scurvy is setting in and we can trade…ice?

  70. Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
    March 1, 2013 - 11:38 am | Permalink

    All credit to Frances Perkins for her compassion and hard work. Nevertheless, I had to vote for St. Damien. He knew the risks of his work on Molokai, and he fulfilled his mission to the end. To my vote I add thanksgiving for the drugs that treat Hansen’s Disease today, and a warning: stay away from armadillos, which are carriers of Mycobacterium leprae.

  71. Victor Hill's Gravatar Victor Hill
    March 1, 2013 - 11:42 am | Permalink

    This staunch New Englander, a longtime fan of Damian, has to go for one who laid down his life – all of it, including deplorable conditions and a ghastly death – for his friends, those rejected (and feared) by all others.

  72. Molly R's Gravatar Molly R
    March 1, 2013 - 11:42 am | Permalink

    Ditto, I give thanks to God that “Om” formed the SEC and illuminated these models of witness (i’m reading “Proof of Heaven” and concur that “Om” is a fantastic pronoun for God that works on many levels). I will have to look at the brackets and pray on this one!

  73. Johnny's Gravatar Johnny
    March 1, 2013 - 11:52 am | Permalink

    Frances has my admiration and respect but Father Damien got in there and helped those society wanted to throw away and forget. My vote is with St. Damien of Molokai.

  74. Karen's Gravatar Karen
    March 1, 2013 - 11:56 am | Permalink

    As an alumna of Mount Holyoke College I am proud to cast my vote for Frances Perkins, Class of 1902!

    • Margret's Gravatar Margret
      March 1, 2013 - 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Me too! I knew some great Frances Perkins scholars at Mt Holyoke while I was a student there. Gotta vote Frances!

  75. Dorothee's Gravatar Dorothee
    March 1, 2013 - 12:03 pm | Permalink

    go big lobster!

  76. Meg's Gravatar Meg
    March 1, 2013 - 12:18 pm | Permalink

    I had to cast my vote for Frances. I did a huge project on her in my U.S. Women’s History class, and presented at a conference about her. She is buried in my home state as well. Cool lady!

  77. Timothy's Gravatar Timothy
    March 1, 2013 - 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Once again, I find myself voting contrary to the bracket I had created at the outset. I credit the CB’s and the inspiring comments posted. Are there others out here encountering a similar experience of Lent Madness madness? (p.s. Today’s vote went to Frances, for I had not known before that faith inspired her. I had previously heard her story through the lens of union politics.)

  78. Alan Medsker's Gravatar Alan Medsker
    March 1, 2013 - 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Our congregational vote last Sunday resulted in a little bit of a landslide for Damien, but heck, the more I think about it the more I think about it the harder it is to just go along with that. Truly two different, and equally valid and necessary approaches to ministering to “the least of these”. However I think it’ll probably come down to voting for the Episcopalian for me, today.

  79. Kate Murray's Gravatar Kate Murray
    March 1, 2013 - 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I just had to go with Damien.

    When will you get around the Eulalia and Wilgefortis, the two women who were crucified?

  80. L.R.'s Gravatar L.R.
    March 1, 2013 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Your posts are so much more informative than Wikipedia. Good job getting us all a lot of information. However, today I noticed my first lack of information in Damien’s post: Who is Marianne? After wasting far too much time reading (and now posting) all of the comments to see what other people found, my question is answered. But it would have been nice to have it answered while reading the original information about Damien.

  81. Katie's Gravatar Katie
    March 1, 2013 - 12:48 pm | Permalink

    While being a priest for Lepers is very brave and a great sacrifice, being a Christian woman in a presidential administration in DC in the 30s and 40s has got to be one of the hardest tasks ever! Both of these saints are wonderful witnesses to God’s love but Frances speaks more to me personally because I’m praying all the time for people in DC to get it together.

  82. Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
    March 1, 2013 - 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I thought I would vote for Damien as I had learned about him when I lived in Hawaii many years ago. But the story of Frances reminds me that we are not all called to be martyrs – or even to the ordained. But we are all and each called to live a godly life. Even if we don’t die for our faith we are to live up to and into faith. Frances was an example. Lent Madness is fun, entertaining and enriching. The Madness I see each day in the paper and on the news and in our communities is often none of those. How we each respond matters. Frances went to DC to serve God, FDR, and millions of ordinary workingmen . . . I voted for this example.

  83. March 1, 2013 - 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Forced to make a choice between two true saints of God, I finally went with Frances Perkins primarily because I didn’t know her history. Much as I love Father Damien for his sacrifice, I find that Frances moves me deeply on a number of levels as a woman, a worker and a lay sister of a religious order (the Order of Saint Luke). Thanks to Lent Madness, I have a new spiritual “she-ro” to emulate as we struggle today to care for our nation’s most vulnerable and those whose labor provides our economy. Thank you!

    • Johannas Jordan's Gravatar Johannas Jordan
      March 1, 2013 - 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Carol and Cynthia both express what I’m feeling. I’m with them in voting for Frances.

  84. Bonnee's Gravatar Bonnee
    March 1, 2013 - 1:03 pm | Permalink

    The bracket summaries–edifying and inspiring, as are the comments. Thanks.

  85. Heidi E's Gravatar Heidi E
    March 1, 2013 - 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I chose the pineapple over the lobster. Much sweeter to the taste- Having lived and served a congregation on Moloka’i, I saw where Fr. Damien lived and ministered. The peninsula is very isolated. Imagine choosing to live in isolation among people of a very different culture and taking on their pain, their disease and even their death. Damien’s example of self-sacrifice is, for me, a good example of christlikeness.

  86. JaneC's Gravatar JaneC
    March 1, 2013 - 1:20 pm | Permalink

    This looked like a strange match on first glance and one which Damien would win even without the help of Big Pineapple. Come on… a saint vs a politician? Closer scrutiny of Frances was quite revealing. What a strong and persistent force for good, but perhaps that depends on one’s political and social orientation. If you have time, check out
    The woman was amazing. Besides, as a former resident of Maine, I’ve got to go with Big Lobster.

  87. Lawrence's Gravatar Lawrence
    March 1, 2013 - 1:25 pm | Permalink

    This is a very hard one. Both of these people are real saints: One was very hands-on with the suffering and outcast, and the other worked in policy that resulted in benefits for millions. I’d like to vote for both. But I chose Frances Perkins because of the mention of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. My mother was a garment worker, and people like Saint Frances made her life better.

  88. March 1, 2013 - 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Well, of Course it’s Damien of Molokai, even if he didn’t go to Mount Holyoke or Columbia, and was not even familiar with presidents (to my knowledge) or factory workers. While we are quick to praise all manner of pious people – even if they are not pious – who will be with the lepers, those stricken with AIDS, those suffering from the most viral contageous diseases? When we walk into suffering, we commit ourselves to God. Who can do this? Who can walk into death with a bold heart? Not so many.

  89. Cheribum's Gravatar Cheribum
    March 1, 2013 - 1:29 pm | Permalink

    “…but his teachers thought he was unintelligent and delayed his ordination.” Hmmmm. Wondering if this quality had anything to do with his assignment to comfort the lepers. Devout, passionate, giving, sacrificing? Undoubtedly. Thoughtful, wise and questioning? Vote goes to the articulate and strong Frances. Plus I thought Manuel Noreiga was the Big Pineapple…

  90. Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
    March 1, 2013 - 1:49 pm | Permalink

    My decision changed with each comment. May have to flip a coin.
    Whoever doesn’t win this year, please bring back again next time so I can vote for him/her.

  91. The Holy Fool's Gravatar The Holy Fool
    March 1, 2013 - 2:01 pm | Permalink

    This is a toss up, and for for no particular logical reason…..The Holy Fool chooses…
    Frances. Lobster is more likely to be on the dinner menu at the final four…

  92. dr.primrose's Gravatar dr.primrose
    March 1, 2013 - 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been to the “leper colony” on Molokai. I strongly felt the presence of God there in the same way I’ve felt God’s presence at Dachau and other concentration camps, where there has been so much horror and suffering. On the other hand, I’ve have always admired Frances Perkins as someone who did so much good for so many people based on her very strong Christian principles, something I’m afraid most political people have a hard time holding onto. So St. Frances it is.

  93. Nancy Evans's Gravatar Nancy Evans
    March 1, 2013 - 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with everyone. This is a toughie, but I am supporting Damien. Both are fantastic souls but I think Damien made the ultimate sacrifice. I wonder what they think of all this looking down from heaven. I will have to ask the Archbishops.

    • Nancy Evans's Gravatar Nancy Evans
      March 1, 2013 - 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Almost for got to mention I am an Episcopalian. Diocese of Pittsburgh.

  94. Conny Santana's Gravatar Conny Santana
    March 1, 2013 - 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Well I do have to preface this with a comment about all the negative press “the big pineapple” got and is getting right up to today’s vote. This is a vote for a spiritually evolved person, not for the state in which they served. I, too, am a social worker and as such I can admire a politician who works for all the people. It is admirable but doesn’t confer “saintly” status. Damien gave his life for people who others did not even want to be near; and he did this as God’s representative on earth. No contest for this social worker, Damien has my vote as a saint.

  95. Jean Abbe's Gravatar Jean Abbe
    March 1, 2013 - 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Hi guys – last Palm Sunday I attended an Episcopal church in Hawaii (being too lazy to drive around the island to the Lutheran church). Imagine my surprise when we were urged from the pulpit to go home and vote for Queen Emma! I went right back to my rental and voted for Dietrich, but was outvoted by all the actual Hawaiians. This year I forgot about Madness until today, thereby missing the ML-MLK matchup. I have now turned on a bunch of Lutherans to Madness, but alas, too late. Oh well, we love MLK too. If you are in Alameda some time, drop by Trinity Lutheran for some good coffee.

  96. Barbara Mays-Stock's Gravatar Barbara Mays-Stock
    March 1, 2013 - 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Voting today for Damien, as an homage to my dear sister, Judith, for whom Damien has always been a true example of selfless ministry. Both of these candidates are incredibly good choices, however, and I would be happy for either one to win!

  97. Judy Stevens's Gravatar Judy Stevens
    March 1, 2013 - 2:51 pm | Permalink

    As the former rector of St. Benedict’s parish in Los Osos, California, I rejoice that he was able to obtain more votes than a hypothetical saint.


  98. Rich's Gravatar Rich
    March 1, 2013 - 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Vote for Francis Perkins – but it was a really hard choice.

  99. Ruth's Gravatar Ruth
    March 1, 2013 - 3:23 pm | Permalink

    This matchup illuminates further what a grand idea Lent Madness is. Ahead of time I picked Fr. Damien because I knew of his story from books I read as a child. And the other lady, whom I had never heard of, was just a politician–easy! Until I read the bios. I still voted for Damien, but we should all pray for more civil servants in Washington like Ms Perkins, and work for recognition of their service to God as well as humanity. Thanks, SEC, for the continuing glorious education about God’s servants!

  100. Kim Kremer's Gravatar Kim Kremer
    March 1, 2013 - 3:41 pm | Permalink

    As much as I love feisty broads (and I hope to live up to that title myself!), I voted for Damien. My loyalty probably stems from the fact I attended a small Jesuit college named for Aloysius Gonzaga, whose served to plague victims doomed him.

  101. Carl's Gravatar Carl
    March 1, 2013 - 3:43 pm | Permalink

    On Monday, the US Department of Labor will comemorate its centennial. Of our 100 years of existence, Secretary Perkins headed the department for 12 of them . . . longer thanany other Secretary of Labor. The Washington, DC HQ of the Labor Department is named after her.

    She really was the person who started it all for DOL. Almost everything we do she started, wanted to do or madebetter. Decades after her tenure andherdeath, she continues to inspire DOL employees.

    • March 1, 2013 - 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Carl! I’m glad people at DOL have a chance to support Frances Perkins today. I happen to live in Newcastle, Maine, where her family still maintains a home. The Frances Perkins Center there continues to advocate for issues that she worked for. http://www.francesperkinscenter.org In 2009 the Episcopal Church voted to include her in its commemoration calendar…and here she is today on Lent Madness!

      • Carl's Gravatar Carl
        March 3, 2013 - 3:45 pm | Permalink

        Thank YOU Heidi for doining this . . . and the timining, right before the DOL Centennial is perfect (although sequestration is no help). You’ve help educate a lot a people about Secretary Perkins, and also about the work of her department. I’m in the Frances Perkins Federal Office Building today, helping to instal a new permanent exhibit about her in conjunction with our centennial. And we will also be working on projects this year with the Frances Perkins Center. She’s an extraordinary example of the good that public servants can do in our country, andshe remains a patron saint to many of us at the department. If you haven’t had the chance, take a look at what former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis wrote about her on Labor Day, 2012: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/remembering-the-legacy-of-saint-frances-perkins-this-labor-day/2012/09/01/fdba103e-f462-11e1-adc6-87dfa8eff430_blog.html

  102. SN's Gravatar SN
    March 1, 2013 - 3:54 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderful way to learn about our saints! Being from the Big Pineapple, I was saddened by the negative comments about Hawaii’s “rallying” last year, but Lent Madness accomplished exactly what it was designed to do and continues to do— more people are learning about some lesser known saints (whose lives are no less courageous and inspiring as some of the more “famous” ones) in a weirdly exciting way…and the longer they stay in play, the more is learned about them by more people! Because of Lent Madness, I learned about Frances Perkins today and deeply admire her, but yes, I am voting for Damien, not because of his ties to Hawai’i, but because of his humble dedication, love, devotion and ultimate sacrifice to a people whom the world turned their backs on, all in the name of Jesus Christ. Now that is saintly!

    • March 1, 2013 - 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Please don’t take the negative comments too seriously . . . probably some people are just jealous, and others in awe of what Hawai’i can do! I, for one, hope Hawai’i will come together again to vote for Damien.

      • SN's Gravatar SN
        March 1, 2013 - 11:55 pm | Permalink


  103. Judy Austin's Gravatar Judy Austin
    March 1, 2013 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

    What a great pairing! But as a layperson and longtime employee of a state government agency, I have to vote for Frances Perkins. I knew who she was and her impact on American government and society (I’m an American historian), but I knew nothing about the strong faith that motivated her work. What a model for us all!

  104. Carla Mouton's Gravatar Carla Mouton
    March 1, 2013 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Wow! The most difficult toss-up yet! I grew up relatively near Carville, La hearing about the “leper hospital.” I found out recently that family members of friends and acquaintances were patients there, but of course, no one talked about it. The Sisters of Mount Carmel, where I went to school, frequently told us about the wonderful work of Father Damien. Yet Frances! In today’s climate…were there more of her! !!! I have not voted early, but may I vote for both?????

  105. Patty DeMaria's Gravatar Patty DeMaria
    March 1, 2013 - 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I love Lobsters, but having read a lot about the horrors of the leper colony and the difference it made to those condemned to inhabit that bit of rock to have someone willing to live there of his own free will to serve them (wow, this is a sentence and a half I have going here!) I will vote for Damien. And the conceit of those who thought him unintelligent and thus useless, well I never!!

  106. Sarah Lawton's Gravatar Sarah Lawton
    March 1, 2013 - 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Damien is obviously a true saint. But my vote went to Frances, and I thank the SEC for including her this year.

    For those who would like to read more about her, I highly recommend Kirstin Downey’s book “The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience.” It’s a great read, and does include an account of her religious convictions and journey. (She was raised in the Congregational Church in New England, but was confirmed in the Episcopal Church while living in the Chicago area and working with Jane Addams and the Settlement House movement.) Here is a review of the book from NPR:


    It took decades for our country to get laws in place limiting child labor. Social Security, workers’ compensation–so much we take for granted, but we shouldn’t; it could easily have gone the other way. Charity is good, but addressing the institutional roots of poverty and oppression is even better.
    The FDR administration was on verge of giving up on these issues as just too hard. She pushed him forward, and as the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet, she faced a lot of discrimination and dismissal from the guys.

    I do believe the horror of the Triangle fire never left her mind; she was a direct witness to those poor girls jumping from the top floors of the factory their deaths to escape the flames. Her work was certainly based too in her faith, and she spent many of her vacation hours on retreat with the sisters.

    Many of my activist / labor don’t even know she was a Christian; I’m proud to claim that and to say also that she was an Episcopalian. Go Frances! May we learn from her and follow her example of how to make lasting and helpful social change for the child, the orphan, the widow, the poor, the worker, and anyone in need.

    • Relling Westfall's Gravatar Relling Westfall
      March 1, 2013 - 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your comments. I hadn’t realized the connection with Jane Addams.

  107. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    March 1, 2013 - 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I voted for my co-religionist.

  108. Tom's Gravatar Tom
    March 1, 2013 - 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Couple of wonderful saints here! Thanks for helping us all learn so much about them.

    Unrelated suggestion for an entrant next year: Thurgood Marshall.

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      March 1, 2013 - 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Tom! At a time when our federal servants are under fire, it is heartening to know that a couple of them made it into HWHM. And I voted for Frances.

  109. March 1, 2013 - 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Frances, my modern hero, gets my vote for living out her Episcopalian faith.

  110. Kathleen's Gravatar Kathleen
    March 1, 2013 - 5:54 pm | Permalink

    As a non-socialist, I had steer away from Francis, and Molokai was such an admirable option for me. Such sacrifice, risking himself over and over.

  111. joan cesare's Gravatar joan cesare
    March 1, 2013 - 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Our debt to Frances is incalculable. But Damien jumped into the fire with his brothers and sisters, giving up his life for his friends. Gotta go with the sacrificial lamb.

  112. Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
    March 1, 2013 - 6:57 pm | Permalink

    OK, I voted for Fr. Damien because he really did put his life on the line (and he was losing). But Frances Perkins is worthy of some sort of halo–silver?
    Thanks for introducing her.

  113. Alice's Gravatar Alice
    March 1, 2013 - 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Oy! The ferrets have been at it again!

  114. Richard's Gravatar Richard
    March 1, 2013 - 7:40 pm | Permalink

    While both candidates seem worthy I can’t vote for Francis as I suspect she was a Red Sox fan.

    • March 1, 2013 - 8:18 pm | Permalink

      And since she likely cheered for the BoSox, all the more reason to vote for her! And the rhythmic chanting begins, ” Lob-stah! Lob-stah! Lob-stah!”

  115. Anne's Gravatar Anne
    March 1, 2013 - 8:20 pm | Permalink

    I know very little about Frances Perkins but her story resonates with me as one I might be able to emulate. Still I must vote for Fr Damien for his faithful courage in immersing himself among the sick and dieing, risking and ultimately giving his own life.

  116. Mary Lou's Gravatar Mary Lou
    March 1, 2013 - 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Once again, another difficult choice. While both are deserving of our votes, I had to give my loyalty to my sister, Frances, who stated she went to Washington to “serve, God, FDR, and the plain, common workingmen.” Too bad the same can’t be said of most of Washington today.

  117. Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
    March 1, 2013 - 8:35 pm | Permalink

    …and good luck to her against MLK next round!

  118. Donna's Gravatar Donna
    March 1, 2013 - 8:45 pm | Permalink

    I want to vote fo both!

  119. Jay's Gravatar Jay
    March 1, 2013 - 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Even Lent Madness seems to prefer extroverts…

  120. Rob Marczynski's Gravatar Rob Marczynski
    March 1, 2013 - 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Don’t worry about the other critics, this is good fun and a great way to learn about great people. However, while admittedly a Roman Catholic, today’s vote and several of the comments make me wander it my Anglican Rite brothers and sisters are showing some anti-Roman Catholic sentiments. C’mon the guy voluntarily gave up his life among the poor, not having dinner with the Washington crowd – have you seen Hyde Park on the Hudson? By the way, Bill Murray’s sister is a Roman Catholic sister! Do they lose points for that?!

  121. Rosemarie's Gravatar Rosemarie
    March 1, 2013 - 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Okay, I know I have a tendency to overthink things and I know this is only a frivolous game, but I need to get something off my chest. It’s really bothering me that people are voting based on their own ego-identifications or their political agendas. I’m a social worker too but to vote for the social worker for that reason or to vote for Damien because my first grade teacher’s name was Sister Damien or to vote for Frances because it’s my mother’s middle name or because my parents benefitted from her programs during the Depression is absurd. Clearly Frances was a good person and a devoted Christian and she helped accomplish great things but does that make her a saint? A man who became “a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ,” is, (IMHO) someone whose love of Christ made him go round the bend and that’s what separates saints from good people and reformers. I am happy to entertain arguments to the contrary but not voting based on faulty reasoning! There. Now I feel better.

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      March 1, 2013 - 10:29 pm | Permalink

      Of course, voting for saints in a bracket matchup format at all is also on the rather absurd side…..


      • Rosemarie's Gravatar Rosemarie
        March 1, 2013 - 10:53 pm | Permalink

        Thank you, Barbara, for bringing me back to earth. Clearly we’re all crazy.

        • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
          March 1, 2013 - 11:00 pm | Permalink

          I really do love your idea about “going round the bend out of love for Christ” as a marker of sainthood, though! Really well said, I think….

    • Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
      March 2, 2013 - 12:43 am | Permalink

      Rosemarie, this is the second year I have played in (suffered through) Lent Madness. Yes, we’re all crazy here. Ash Thursday? Saintly Smackdown? Saintly kitsch? (Just wait, that’s really beyond the pale. Really.) It’s impossible to choose the more saintly saint. Mental torture. But, the fun part of LM is learning about marvelous, historical people—-and reading present day comments (well, sometimes…) and following the entertaining antics of the SEC. Our very own SEC. Wherever they may roam.

  122. Viola's Gravatar Viola
    March 1, 2013 - 10:40 pm | Permalink

    I first learned of Fr. Damien some 40 years ago, working in a theological library that had an endowment for collecting works on Christian missions/missionary work. That he gave up his life in the way he did moved me very deeply and still does. I did not know about Francis Perkins until today. Her work is laudable, but I must go with the very saintly Fr. Damien.

  123. Eileen's Gravatar Eileen
    March 1, 2013 - 11:02 pm | Permalink

    The site won’t let me vote (my husband got there first!!!) so I need to cast my vote for Damien.

  124. John's Gravatar John
    March 1, 2013 - 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Very close race and personally difficult. Frances Perkins’s work has contributed immensely to the Kingdom coming in these sometimes contrary yet still United States, and many hands have taken it up. But I met Damien first through the extraordinary defense of his saintly character by one of those “apostate” writers of the century before last, Robert Louis Stevenson. His “Open Letter to the Reverend Doctor Hyde of Honolulu” is a prose masterpiece. Hyde had written private correspondence in which he repeated rumors about Damien, and one or more of Hyde’s “friends” published the corrspondence apparently without Hyde’s knowledge or consent. As printed the letter claimed that Damien was an ignorant peasant who had gone to Molokai without the permission of his ecclesiastical superiors (!), that he was “impure in his relations with women,” and more of that sort. Perhaps Hyde or his friends had been carried away by the spirit of interdenominal strife in the Hawaiian mission field? The published letter fell into Stevenson’s hands and he wrote an outraged defense of Damien, praising him as a pioneer who paved the way for the nuns who followed him to Molokai, memorably saying that there wasn’t a clean dish or towel in the “good sisters”‘ wards that “dirty Damien” hadn’t cleaned–an unforgettable image and a reminder that Damien’s sanctity flowed through the hands of those who took up his work among the lepers, just as many hands took up the work of Frances Perkins. Should it surprise us that sainthood happens in community? Peasant and patrician, today’s bracketed saints are truly people’s saints, and neither the gates of Hell nor the gatekeepers of ecclesiastical “purity” shall prevail against them.

  125. JMBRKE's Gravatar JMBRKE
    March 2, 2013 - 12:16 am | Permalink

    My vote is for Damien. I heard the story in grade school, that he announced his newly-acquired affliction with leprosy by opening his sermon with: “My brother lepers.” Ms. Perkins’ work is laudable, but Damien gets my vote.

  126. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    March 2, 2013 - 1:22 am | Permalink

    So, let’s see: #1 a good paying job, nice clothes and living in a cosmopolitan area; or #2 a poorly paying job, rough clothes and living at the end of the earth. Hmmm…it would be more difficult for me to follow Fr. Damien’s path than Mrs. Perkins’ path. So, I vote for Fr. Damien graced with extra strength and courage.

  127. Chris's Gravatar Chris
    March 2, 2013 - 1:27 am | Permalink

    Damien’s self sacrifice is inspiring, but Frances Perkins lifted millions of people out of poverty, so she gets my vote.
    I may be impossible to have a fair election that includes her name, though. After all, anyone getting SS benefits maybe unduly influenced. 🙂

  128. Sarah Lawton's Gravatar Sarah Lawton
    March 2, 2013 - 1:50 am | Permalink

    Keeping a clear head and heart in the halls of power and in the face of hostility, over many years, was not such an easy (or fun) task for Frances. She had a lonely job. How stay focused on what needed to be done, rather than all the imperatives of power and privilege? I imagine this was one reason she went on retreat so frequently with the Sisters of the Poor.

    My vote was not against Damien, whose saintliness is very clear, but rather for Frances, whose work changed so many lives. Others tried to accomplish what she did, e.g., banning child labor. She finally did it, decades later.

    I also appreciate this chance to vote for a layperson, a woman, and an Episcopalian (is she the only one this year?). These are not reasons to vote against Damien. Just on a personal level, I can relate to her as I am all of the above too.

    Necessary caveat: Of course Lent Madness is completely nutty and unfair. And the match-ups are only going to get harder in the next round (at least for me). All of these folks are amazing and their lives worthy of study, thanksgiving, and (perhaps) emulation. Different charisms, different paths. What a blessing to know of all of them.

  129. Bugtussle's Gravatar Bugtussle
    March 2, 2013 - 2:03 am | Permalink

    Tough choice, but Frances got my vote. Despite all the rhetoric slinging and snarky opinions about Social Security (which is only an “entitlement” to those who put money INTO the SocSec system, thank you very much), we also owe Frances for such civilities as the lunch break, 8-hour work days, overtime pay, and other features of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In the long run, she provided more humane conditions for many more people than Damien did.

  130. Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
    March 2, 2013 - 2:03 am | Permalink

    After hours of trying to choose, I finally voted for Frances so I could go to sleep. I was truly inspired by both.

  131. Hope and Skye's Gravatar Hope and Skye
    March 2, 2013 - 7:02 am | Permalink

    Whoops, we almost forgot to vote. The twins woke up this morning yelling, “We forgot to vote for Francis Perkins last night!” So they just did! Glad we could squeeze our vote in before the polls closed. Whew.

  132. Peggy's Gravatar Peggy
    March 2, 2013 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    I was rooting for Damien! What happened, people of Hawaii? I was sure I’d wake up this morning to find he had won.

    • March 2, 2013 - 9:39 am | Permalink

      After a year of negative comments and bullying, perhaps the people of Hawai’i decided to walk away . . . in a way I wouldn’t blame them — calling them unfair has become a rather tedious refrain of Lent Madness. Teasing is one thing, but it’s not funny anymore.

      • Conny Santana's Gravatar Conny Santana
        March 2, 2013 - 3:03 pm | Permalink

        Thank-you Sr. Mary Winifred! I have already made my comment regarding just this matter. Hopefully we can now let the “bad” Hawaii matter rest. Our Bishop may have been over enthusiastic in getting the diocese behind Emma, but hey! it was in the spirit of MADDNESS, which was still just an inane/zany way to learn about the saints. What he did was get many people involved in this “game” who otherwise might not have taken the time to even check it out. (I for one voted for Mary Magdalen last year even though I’m both a citizen of Hawaii and an Episcopalian! ) I’m one of those who was introduced to this in the spirit of playfulness and I still promote it, but I agree, let the Hawaii matter REST already!

  133. Paul Rosbolt's Gravatar Paul Rosbolt
    March 2, 2013 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    I have lost my faith in Big Pineapple

  134. balanwabook!), I'm sure Frances is worthy--but I confess I'm disappointed.'s Gravatar balanwabook!), I'm sure Frances is worthy--but I confess I'm disappointed.
    March 2, 2013 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    Is this Lent Madness shaping up as the Year of the Woman? Is the voter gender balance skewed? I didn’t know Damien, I’m female, I’ve never been to Hawaii (but I did read the book), I learned the right spelling of the men’s and women’s names as a school girl by seeing Frances’ name in print and I’m sure she’s worthy–but I confess I’m disappointed my guy will for now remain in his holy isolation among the company of saints.

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      March 3, 2013 - 3:31 pm | Permalink

      One consolation: since he’s a relatively recently-canonized RC saint, I bet many people who voted for him here had, like me, never heard about him before.

      That’s over 2,000 people here alone who maybe heard his name for the first time and (like me) felt immediately drawn to his story. Anyway: I don’t know about you, but I’m now part of the (unofficial) cult of Damien of Molokai. 😉

      (And that’s in real life, not just in Lent Madness….)

  135. Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
    March 2, 2013 - 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me that with this year’s voters, the closer a saint is
    to our own time the better chance that saint has of winning (although Hilda of Whitby
    did beat Samuel Seabury). While we’re on that subject (if I may backtrack a little),
    during that particular matchup I kept seeing the statement “I can’t vote for Seabury.
    He was a Tory!” Perhaps Maple Anglican feels differently. In Canada the Loyalists are considered the Good Guys. There, I said it. Now, on with Lent Madness!

  136. Cheribum's Gravatar Cheribum
    March 2, 2013 - 8:04 pm | Permalink

    I will vehemently defend my right to vote against a saint if I do not like his of her picture. And tell you about it. BTW, why does more suffering make you more worthy? I see value in impact.

  137. RobertC's Gravatar RobertC
    March 2, 2013 - 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Fr. Damien exposed himself to a deadly disease which he eventually contracted, in order to alleviate the suffering of people he did not know, at a time when most European people regarded non-Europeans as less than totally human. I can think of no one more deserving of the epithet of Saint. That he lost in this poll to a politician is frankly horrifying.

Comments are closed.