Could Stowe native be named saint?

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STOWE, Vt. People in Hawaii and Vermont are hoping a man, known for overcoming alcoholism, will be canonized a saint.

Many Catholics around the world know of Saint Damien, who worked for years on the Hawaiian island of Molokai in the 1800's, tending to lepers.

"Father Damien always had about ten projects going on at the same time," Msgr. Peter Routhier said.

The bishop of Hawaii wants to see if one of Saint Damien's helpers can get the same recognition. The bishop wrote to church leaders in Rome-, asking them to consider opening the cause for sainthood for Joseph Dutton.

Dutton was born on the land where the Blessed Sacrament Church in Stowe now stands.

"He had become an alcoholic. He was a carouser," Msgr. Routhier said.

Dutton had a conversion after serving in the civil war. He became Catholic.

"He was just an ordinary person who really found the mercy and love of God, and therefore wanted to return that love," Msgr. Routhier said.

Dutton heard about Father Damien's work in Hawaii and joined him, helping the sick in the leper colony for 45 years.

"It seems the worthiness from a time investment is there." Parishioner Lynn Altadonna said.

Blessed Sacrament parishioners headed to Hawaii this past year to spread the word about Brother Dutton, as he's now known.

"What's important is to find miracles that can be attributed to Brother Dutton," Altadonna said.

Unlike Saint Damien and another helper, Saint Marianne Cope, Brother Dutton did not belong to a religious order.

"They had organizations to help get them canonized," Altadonna said.

The path to sainthood is a long one. If church officials decide to take up the case, they would have to go through the writings and letters of Dutton. They would also attempt to contact descendants of the people he helped. Even after that long process, there is no guarantee he would be named a saint.