By Erin Carelse
[This article appeared in The Southern Cross, 15 November 2018]
Archbishop Buti Tlhagale has approved and given support to the initial stages of an investigation into the possibility for a cause for sainthood for Domitilla Rota and Danny Hyams, the founders of LITTLE EDEN. The couple have been widely recognised for their virtues.
Domitilla Hyams died in January 2011; her husband Danny followed in December 2012. The initial process will collect information about the couple to determine whether a basis exists for a sainthood cause. If that investigation shows that there is such a basis, the archbishop of Johannesburg can petition the Holy See to allow the initiation of a cause for beatification and eventually canonisation.
At present, there are two South African sainthood causes: those of Blessed Benedict Daswa, who was beatified as a martyr in 2015, and Abbot Franz Pfanner, founder of the Mariannhill Monastery.
Fr Joseph Leathem OMI of Edenvale, who recently received the Danny and Domitilla Hyams Award for his contributions to LITTLE EDEN over the past 50 years, spoke fondly of the couple.
“Domitilla was an exceptional person with a great determination to help children in need. She had a great love for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Mass,” he said.
“Danny was a man of great faith and integrity, too. He was that able presence in the background. They say behind every great man there is a woman, but in this case behind this holy woman there was a loving husband.”
LITTLE EDEN was founded 50 years ago by Domitilla – then mother of six – with the help of a group of friends and advisors, and a R10 donation from her husband. Initially a simple day-care facility operating in the Edenvale Methodist church hall, the organisation now has two residential homes which together cater for 300 children and adults with profound intellectual disability.
Over the years the Hyams received numerous awards in recognition of their selfless work. Domitilla received the papal Bene Merenti medal in 2008 and a Lifetime Recognition Award from the Italian SA Chamber of Trade and Industry in 2006. Danny also received the Bene Merenti medal as well as the Salus Award from the minister of National Health and Population Development shortly before his death in 2012.
The couple was honoured in a series of events in the towns of Almenno San Bartholomeo Bergamo and Albenza in Italy – Domitilla’s birthplace – in February 2016.
A signboard marks the birthplace of Domitilla Rota and a new road was named after her. That road leads to a church. At the same time, a posthumous “honorary citizenship” was conferred on Danny.
The couple’s daughter Lucy Slaviero, CEO of Little Eden, has invited people who would like to share memories or give testimony about the life and virtue of her parents to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org