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February 23, 2024

Speaking with the Saints: an Interview with Kris McLaughlin

February 23, 2024
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This week, we sat down with Kris McLaughlin, writer of Damien of Molokai, to discuss Saint Damien and her writing process. You can listen to the entire series here.

A Journey to Molokai

Q: What can listeners expect when they tune in to Damien of Molokai?

Hopefully the listeners can expect to be so drawn into Damien's story that they can't wait to hear the next episode.  His relationship with his brother, who also became a priest, is quite interesting. There are moments of suspense, such as when the ship Damien takes to Hawaii is in danger of capsizing, and then, once he gets there and builds a church, it's nearly destroyed by an earthquake. Then comes his stay on Molokai and the struggles he has to help the lepers he came to love so much so that he sacrificed his life in order to see their lives improved along with their faith in God.

On the Process of Writing

Q: What was your writing process like?

Whenever I write a series for The Saints, I read as much as I can about that particular person, immersing myself in at least five or six books as well as online sources about them. Once I feel I've come to know them, the saint and those around him begin "speaking" to me - sometimes in the middle of the night I'll get a snatch of a possible scene and will have to get up to jot down the words I'm hearing. Of course, all the writers go through a rigorous process of writing outlines of the story and refining those before we actually get into writing the first draft. This all happens as a team effort with Peter Atkinson, our Producer; Judy Zocchi, Head of Script Development; Buzz McLaughlin, Script Consultant; and Lisa Lickona, our Saints Consultant. 

Lessons from Saint Damien

Q: Was there anything you were surprised to learn about St. Damien?

What I was surprised to learn about Damien was how determined he was to get to confession. No other priests were allowed on Molokai because of the danger of contracting leprosy. His Bishop came by steamer ship to hear his confession, but was denied being able to land. Damien got into a small boat, rowed out to the steamer, and shouted up his confession in French when it was learned that only he and the Bishop understood that language! Actually that affected me profoundly - how easy it is for me to get to confession and yet how sometimes eluctant I am to take advantage of this sacrament.

Q: What's one thing you think listeners can and should learn from St. Damien's life?

That we should always keep listening for God's voice and direction in our lives, and never stop trusting that He will provide for all our needs.

Saint Damien of Molokai, Pray for Us!

You can learn more about Kris McLaughlin here. You can also listen to some of her other series: Francis of Assisi, Saint Benedict.

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