Celebrating Mother Teresa’s Canonization

U.S. Events Reflect Soon-to-Be Saint’s Legacy


BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Coinciding with the canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata Sept. 4 in Rome, events in the United States will honor the new saint in a distinctive way.

“We shall be celebrating the great gift that Mother Teresa is to us, the poor, the Church and the world — truly a ‘Mother’ and carrier of God’s mercy and compassion to all,” the Missionaries of Charity in the Bronx., N.Y., told the Register.

These Missionaries of Charity will celebrate a Sept. 10 Mass of thanksgiving for Mother Teresa’s canonization at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. The Mass will be celebrated by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and falls on the 70th anniversary of “Mother Teresa’s receiving her ‘call within a call’ to serve Jesus in the poorest, on her train ride to Darjeeling in 1946,” reported the sisters.

The Missionaries of Charity in the Bronx will also host an exhibit on Mother Teresa’s life. The exhibit will be on display during the month of September. More information will be forthcoming at SantaRitaBronx.com.

The location is ideal, as the convent on East 145th Street was the first one Mother Teresa opened in the United States to serve the poorest of the poor in 1971. The sisters shared that “Mother Teresa has been here a countless number of times, right up until 1997, the year she died.”


Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, Conn., will feature a display in honor of Mother Teresa and her canonization, too. Called “Mother Teresa: The Saint of the Streets,” it runs through Nov. 6 to “showcase Mother Teresa’s relationship with the Knights of Columbus,” said Peter Sonski, director of education and outreach.

The fraternal organization had a close relationship with Mother Teresa over the years that continues with her Missionaries of Charity. She even visited the Knights’ headquarters.

“She was the first recipient of the Gaudium et Spes Award,” Sonski said. The highest honor the organization gives, Mother Teresa received the award in 1992 for her selfless charity inspired by the Gospel. In part of the display, visitors can see a video of that award ceremony and her response.

The display also includes “a statue of St. [Mother] Teresa we commissioned years ago,” Sonski added. Called Angel of the Poor, late sculptor Tommaso Gismondi shows Mother Teresa carrying a dying child as another child reaches out for her compassionate attention.


College Celebrations

Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla., is honoring the new saint in major ways, including a week honoring her, Sept. 4-10.

“A Week for Mother” begins with events for students, starting with her canonization broadcast live and ending on Sept. 10 with students, families and the general public joining in the celebration, according to Corinne MacDonald, manager of the Mother Teresa Museum on campus.

MacDonald said that there will be a Mass celebrated by an Indian priest who ministers in the neighboring town of Immokalee.

“A children’s choir will be singing music we think Mother Teresa would like,” she said. Among the general public who will be joining in the celebration will be “the people we serve in Immokalee,” MacDonald explained, as students who are part of the university’s “Mother Teresa Project” lend a hand to the people in that impoverished town.

“The Missionaries of Charity sisters in Miami are going to join us for this celebration and bring people from the soup kitchen they serve to join us, too,” MacDonald added.

The Mother Teresa Museum is part of the continuous celebration of the saint.

Her life story, with nearly three dozen panels identical to those the Missionaries of Charity’s exhibit uses, is part of the permanent exhibits.

One of the latest additions this spring is the reproduction of her room in her Kolkata convent.

“If you see a photo, our Mother Teresa room and her room in Kolkata, everything is there, even to the point of the little boxes Mother would use to write to the different houses in Kolkata,” MacDonald noted. “And there is the image she had of Jesus crucified by her bed. It’s all very accurate,” from the small bed and desk to the “picnic table” with benches where she met with people since her room also “functioned as her office.”

Among personal items visitors can see displayed are the crucifix from the soon-to-be saint’s rosary and many handwritten letters, such as the personal ones donated by Ave Maria President Jim Towey, who founded the museum.

For many years, Towey served as Mother Teresa’s legal counselor, and he and his wife, Mary, had a long personal relationship with her.

Museum visitors can also venerate a first-class relic of Mother Teresa, see testimonies of people who knew her and view her speech at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

The museum already draws many visitors, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

Presently, hours are connected to the academic year. (Visit MotherTeresaProject.org and click on “Museum” for more information.)

Northeast Catholic College in Warner, N.H., will be celebrating the canonization of Mother Teresa in a variety of ways, as well.

“We will have a special sung Mass for the whole community on that day, followed by an evening dinner in her honor,” President George Harne told the Register.

In addition, the college’s Dignitas Scholars — who receive their formation based on the writings of Mother Teresa and unite her pro-life commitment with service to the poor — “will visit our local residence for the elderly, providing comfort and companionship,” Harne explained. “Then they will assist wheelchair-bound veterans in attending Mass with music provided by our student community and student Knights of Columbus.”

“Her canonization will surely bring joy to our campus community,” Harne added.


United Nations’ Tribute

In New York City, Sept. 6-9, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, together with ADF International, will host an exhibit called “Leaving No One Behind: Mother Teresa’s Enduring Message for the International Community Today.”

Capping the exhibition will be a Sept. 9 conference on Mother Teresa’s enduring message.

Many Missionaries of Charity are expected to attend. The sponsors will also bring about 150 people served by the Missionaries of Charity to the conference and afterward celebrate with them at a dinner at the Holy Family Church hall; the Catholic church is in the U.N. neighborhood.

Since, for security purposes, there can be no walk-in attendees, anyone interested in going to the conference has to RSVP by Sept. 7 at HolySeeMission.org/rsvpSeptember9.

Father Roger Landry, attaché and director of special events for the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the U.N., said that when Mother Teresa spoke to the U.N. General Assembly in celebration of its 40th anniversary in October 1985, Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar called her the “most powerful woman in the world” and said, “She is the United Nations. She is peace in the world.”

Father Landry said that the exhibition and conference provide an “opportunity to look at some of the biggest issues that the U.N. considers — peace, lifting people up out of poverty, leaving no person behind without rights and dignity — from the perspective of the ongoing relevance of the work, words and witness of Mother Teresa. When Pope Francis came to the U.N. last September, he challenged the institution to get beyond ‘declarationalist nominalism’ and put words into action, and Mother Teresa’s extraordinary example continues to show us the way.”


LOVING LIKENESS. Above, Missionaries of Charity visit the museum dedicated to Mother Teresa on the campus of Ave Maria University. Flickr.com/motherteresaproject

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