Actor Hopes St. Damien’s Story Inspires Others as it Does Him
October 3, 2019
ROCKFORD—“Of all that I have done in my professional career, the calling to bring St.  Damien to life, is a voice that I simply cannot ignore,” said Wayne Messmer, well-known professional speaker and the renowned “Voice of the National Anthem” for Chicago sports teams.
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockford will host Messmer for one performance of “Damien,” Oct. 24 at the Nordlof Theater here.
The play will be part of Catholic Charities’ first “A Moveable Feast” fundraiser.
The play by Aldyth Morris tells the story of Father Damien who devoted his life and priesthood ministry to thousands of lepers. 
Father Damien also contracted Hansen’s Disease, the medical term for leprosy, but continued his work until his own death. 
“Damien’s sacrifice is a story that is more alive today than ever,” Messmer said. “In his day, the lepers of Molokai were abandoned without someone to speak for them, until he shouted to anyone who would listen and many whom would not. We need more Damien’s in our lives even today. 
“My hope is that people in the audience will feel his spirit and touch the lives of another person who may have otherwise gone without a voice,” Messmer said.
The performance will take place on the 10th anniversary of the canonization of Jozef de Veuster (St. Damien), who died in 1889 and was named a saint in October 2009. 
Patrick J. Winn, director of Catholic Charities for the Rockford Diocese, said Father Damien’s work was always about the inherent human dignity of people whom others ignored or neglected. 
“Our mission statement calls us to ‘assist people in achieving a degree of independence consonant with their human dignity,’” Winn said.
“On this 10th anniversary of Father Damien’s canonization,” he added, “we honor his determination to do the same and hope that our efforts can bring respect and dignity to those who are often forgotten or feared.”
Bishop David J. Malloy lauded St. Damien’s work and praised Messmer for using his talent to bring the sacrifice of Father Damien to the public’s attention. 
“Mr. Messmer has answered the call to spread the message of Damien to benefit the people served by Catholic Charities,” Bishop Malloy said. “For anyone looking for some extra inspiration, Mr. Messmer’s talent and St. Damien’s life will satisfy the appetite.”
A limited number of general tickets went on sale on Sept. 24. Sponsorships of various levels are still available and include a pre-show reception with Messmer, dinner, the performance and an auction of a new creation by Rockford artist Roni Golan.