Angel of Mercy-Film Festival to celebrate Mother Teresa Birth Centenary

Kolkata, Aug 25 (IBNS) Film festivals and dedication of a cathedral to Mother Teresa marked the beginning of celebrations for the Albanian nun’s birth centenary on August 26 in and around Kolkata, the workplace of the Nobel Peace laureate who died in 1997 after dedicating a lifetime tending the poor and uncared.

While the blue-bordered sari-clad self-effacing nuns of the Missionaries of Charity (MoC), set up by Mother Teresa, continued to work for the poor and the helpless, the city where she worked and found global recognition decided to celebrate.

The sainthood of Macedonia-born Mother Teresa is delayed by the absence of a second miracle but the Missionaries of Charity (MoC) believes that god “will choose his own time” for the pious event the entire Catholic world eagerly awaits.

On Monday, the Birth Centenary celebrations began at Cathedral Immaculate Heart of Mary and Mother Teresa – the first cathedral dedicated to Mother Teresa in the world, at Baruipur, on the outskirts of Kolkata.

“The world has been preparing to celebrate the birth centenary of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata in different ways. Missionaries of Charity with the Archdiocese of Calcutta, too has drawn up a programmes for the city of Kolkata, the city she lived in and died,” said Bishop Salvadore Lobo of Baruipur diocese, set up in 1978.

Missionaries of Charity (MoC): Mother Teresa Kolkata
Missionaries of Charity (MoC): Mother Teresa Kolkata

“I am happy that after 30 years of building up of faith, hope and charity of our people in the diocese, now we are able to present a Cathedral dedicated to Immaculate Heart of Mary and Blessed Teresa of Kolkata,” he said.

“Mother Teresa saw the face of Jesus on the face of every poor she served. She believed intense love does not measure, it just gives. She told the people who wanted to give “give until it hurts – with a smile.” Bishop Lobo said. A befitting tribute on her birth centenary dedicating her a cathedral will be a source of constant inspiration.

Sister Mary Prema, Superior General of Missionaries of Charity, had inaugurated the cathedral last November.

The Cathedral architecture is primarily Romanesque marked by rounded arches, solid volumes and perpendicular elements as prevalent in the 10th and 12th centuries.

The sanctuary is in Portuguese style. The use of modern materials like fibreglass has gone hand-in-hand with modern concepts like eco-friendliness and provision for persons to attend prayers in wheelchairs. The 12 murals on either side of Cathedral roof highlight the 12 miracles and 12 parables of Jesus Christ.

“On Mother Teresa’s birth centenary we have decorated the cathedral with pictures and relief work based on her activities and philosophy,” said  Subrata Ganguly of Church Art – a Kolkata-based firm which has done the sanctuary, interior decoration and artwork of the Cathedral.

The pictures show Mother in a myriad moods – ranging from a smiling Mother blessing the Sisters to her being immersed in deep thoughts at the sight of a suffering child. She is seen cradling a small child in her arms, a symbol of her giving shelter to the countless orphans left to die.

“The pictures depict the qualities of love, care and hope that are associated with her work,” he added. There are 16 such artworks especially created for the occasion.

Kolkata is also hosting a film festival from Aug 26 to 29 as the Angel of Mercy.

Disabled people in Kolkata will get their own special screenings during the Mother Teresa International Film Festival, the organizers said.

“We’re looking to have residents from leading disabled centers as well as those from MC homes, in the audiences,”  said Sunil Lucas, director of the festival.
Meanwhile, in a special message on the occasion of Mother’s birth centenary, Sr. M. Prema M.C., Superior General, said: “Her life and work continue to be an inspiration for young and old, rich and poor from all walks of life, religions and nations.”

She said: “Her message: ‘God has created us for greater things – to love and to be loved,’ makes us look beyond the struggles, loneliness and grievances of our daily life. We are called for something infinitely greater than riches, talent, fame or passing pleasures.”

The words of Sister Prema finds meaning at ‘Nirmal Hriday’, the home for the dying founded by Mother Teresa here.

Thirteen years after Mother Teresa’s own passing, Nirmal Hriday (Pure Heart) , nuns and social workers across the world continue to tend the sick and the abandoned in the home.

Rows of beds with diseased, deformed and senile men and women keep the benign nuns of the Missionaries of Charity (MoC) busy as they move about the chores of taking care of the dying, transmitting hope for mankind, amid poverty and pain.

Mother Teresa, born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu at Skopje in Macedonia, was an Albanian nun who came to Kolkata in 1929 after she heard a call from God to serve the poorest of the poor. She set up schools for street children and medical clinics for slum-dwellers.

In 1950, she founded the MoC. When she died on Sept 5, 1997, the MoC had nearly 4,000 nuns and ran around 600 orphanages, homeless shelters and clinics.

Today there are 766 convents spread in 137 countries.

by Sujoy Dhar

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