Kolkata, Aug 26 (Calcutta Tube/IBNS) The benign nuns of Missionaries of Charity (MoC) joined in a holy morning mass at the Mother House, the global headquarters of Missionaries of Charity (MoC), on Thursday to observe the birth centenary of its founder Mother Teresa, while a special message from the Vatican was read out as Kolkata kicked off weeklong celebrations to remember the Nobel laureate.
Followers of Mother Teresa, from famous Kolkata-based singer Usha Uthup to the orphans and destitute for whom Mother showed endless compassion and love, poured in at the Mother House since morning.
The mass at the Mother House in central Kolkata was presided over by Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi diocese.
School children also visited the tomb of Mother and paid their respects to the Albanian nun who became the Saint of the Gutter by her work.
In a special message addressed to MoC Superior General Sister Prema from Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI, which was read out, said: “In your preparation for this year you strove to draw closer to the person of Jesus, whose third for souls is sated by your ministry to him in the poorest of the poor”.
“Having responded with the trust to the direct call of the Lord, Mother Teresa exemplified before the world the words of Saint John: ‘Beloved, if God so loves us, we ought also to love one another.”
“Joining myself spiritually to the centenary celebrations, and with great affection in the Lord, I cordially impart to the Missionaries of Charity, and to all those whom you serve, my paternal Apostolic Blessing,” the Pope said.
In a message, Sister Prema said Mother Teresa brought the world the assurance of beauty which will always increase and never pass away, the assurance of simple path to walk, which leads to true happiness.
“The poor were attracted to Mother because they perceived that her compassion was authentic. In her presence they felt consoled and assured that God loves them and cares for them,” said Sister Prema.
“I pray, that today Mother may touch us once again and set our hearts on fire with love of God and of the poorest of the poor,” she said.
Mother Teresa, who was beatified in 2003 and became the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, awaits sainthood in the absence of a second miracle.
“Mother is a saint for all of us, irrespective of the sainthood by the Vatican. The Church has its own way of going about it, but for us she is a saint already. We are in no hurry for her sainthood that way. She has already been beatified, which in itself makes her so special,” Father Orson Welles, a long time associate of Mother, told IBNS.
Mother Teresa Film festival, commemorate stamp, special train flag-off and dedication of a cathedral to Mother Teresa marked the beginning of celebrations for the nun’s birth centenary on Aug 26 in and around Kolkata, where she worked tirelessly and died in 1997.
Besides the Mother Teresa film festival, one of the highlights of the day in Kolkata was the inauguration of an exhibition train dedicated to Mother Teresa.
Named ‘Mother Express‘, the train will be flagged off by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee from Kolkata.
It traverse across the country for next six months.
“The train would showcase life and philanthropic deeds of this great soul who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna in 1980 for her humanitarian work,” said a Railway release.
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.
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 with more than 4500 nuns carrying forward the work of Mother Teresa.
The self-effacing nuns of Missionaries of Charity (MoC) joined in a holy morning mass at the Mother House, the global headquarters of Missionaries of Charity (MoC), on Thursday to observe the birth centenary of its founder Mother Teresa, while a special message from the Vatican was read out as Kolkata kicked off weeklong celebrations to remember the Nobel laureate.
Photos Avishek Mitra /IBNS