Bl. Peter Donders: in the service to the most abandoned


On January 14th we commemorate in the liturgy Bl. Peter Donders, Redemptorist. Born in Tilburg, Holland, he became a priest and went to the missions in the Dutch colony of Surinam. There he was ministering among the slaves, the Batavian lepers and the indigenous peoples of Surinam.  He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

Read more:
Biography of Bl. Peter Donders 
Blessed Peter Donders: Prophet of Justice and Liberation

In the following account, Fr. Ricardo Geraldo de Carvalho, Vice-Postulator for the Cause of Bl. Peter Donders, describes his activities for the promotion of our blessed confrere in Latin America. He also reports on new facts and circumstances relevant to the future canonization.

Updates regarding the work being done in Surinam for the Cause of Blessed Peter Donders

1. On August 25, 2019, Fr. Antonio Marrazzo, CSsR, the Postulator General of our Congregation, on the indication of Very Rev. Michael Brehl, Superior General, and with the consent of His Excellency, Mons. Karel Choennie, Bishop of Paramaribo (Suriname), nominated Fr. Ricardo Geraldo de Carvalho as a Vice-Postulator for the Cause of Blessed Peter Donders.

2. Fr. Marrazzo indicated to Fr. Ricardo the most important things to do to advance the process: to make Blessed Peter Donders better known and loved, especially throughout Latin America; to promote greater devotion to him; to promote the charitable and pastoral works done in his name; to produce materials such as novenas, prayers, hymns, etc., especially in Spanish and Portuguese; and to investigate possible miraculous cures that seem to have occurred through the intercession of Blessed Peter Donders.

3. An effort was made, although a little too late, to have Blessed Peter Donders’ name included among the saints of the Amazon during the Synod of Bishops this past October, and have him indicate as “Patron of the Poor and Abandoned Peoples of the Amazon”, especially because of his work with the slaves from Africa on the various plantations, those suffering from Hansen’s disease, especially at the leprosarium in Batavia where he worked for 27 years, and the native Amerindians, living deep in the tropical jungles of Suriname. Although the name of Donders was not included in the Final Document of the Synod, we hope that Pope Francis will include it in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation.

4. Since it would be impossible to go to all the countries in Latin America to promote his Cause, we had the inspiration to organize a Redemptorist Network for the Cause of Blessed Peter Donders. We have asked the superiors of the 23 Units in the Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean to seek out and appoint one confrere to be part of this network, a local promoter of the Cause with whom the Vice-Postulator can communicate, sharing ideas and materials electronically/digitally. This is a recent initiative and to date, we have two confreres nominated, one from the Vice-Province of Bahia and one from the Province of São Paulo. The Vice-Province of Perú-Norte and the Province of Quito have responded and hope to have a confrere appointed soon. We hope that this Network will grow and serve to promote greater knowledge of, love for and devotion to Blessed Peter Donders throughout Latin America, through a coordinated and unified effort.

5. In December, Fr. Ricardo had the first meeting with members of the Foundation of the Devotees of Peter Donders, a large group of laypeople who have been working for many years to promote the cause in Surinam. We hope to work closely with these people, as we have the same goals. At the moment two cases of alleged extraordinary healings through the intercession of the Blessed are also being studied. If the prior analysis of the clinical and testimonial documentation shows that these are possible miraculous healings, it will be possible to proceed to initiate one or more processes on the miracle.

With God’s grace and the help of Blessed Peter Donders, we hope to move his Cause forward so we can witness the canonization of the first saint of Surinam.

Fr. Ricardo G. de Carvalho, C.Ss.R.