Of the many names I’ve given Joseph Dutton, that of the “laughing apostle” is most endearing.

The lay priest of Kalaupapa was called by contemporaries “a brother to everybody.” Despite the challenges of working in a community where illness and pending death was always a part of life at the leper colony, Dutton was known for his laugh in the midst of it all.

Dutton’s laugh was comforting in a time of much needed comfort. He was a carefree, lighthearted man who was always enjoyable to be around. It was said that he “had a divine temper; nothing could ruffle it.”

Dutton realized his cheerful presence. He wrote late in his life, “I am ashamed to think that I am inclined to be jolly. Often think we don’t know that our Lord ever laughed, and here my laugh is ready to burst out any minute.”