Indian nuncio Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio celebrates Mass for the Missionaries of Charity nuns at the motherhouse in Kolkata Sept. 4, soon after St. Teresa was declared a saint by Pope Francis at the Vatican. (ucanews.com photo)
Bells chimed, people cheered and nuns sang hymns at the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, as Pope Francis at the Vatican declared Mother Teresa a saint. They erupted in sudden applause when they watched on big screens the live ceremony of the canonization Sept. 4. Hundreds of local people, including nuns, volunteers at the Missionaries of Charity houses from India and abroad had gathered at the motherhouse of the congregation where St. Teresa died and was buried 19 years ago. The Missionaries of Charity nuns had put up three big screens — one near the tomb of St. Teresa, another at the courtyard of the house and one in the chapel on the first floor of the house, for the people to witness the ceremony. The city's civic authorities had also installed a big screen on a street next to the motherhouse for the people to watch the live ceremony.
The police too had made elaborate security arrangements assisting the nuns in handling the crowd inside and outside the Missionaries of Charity headquarters. Sunil Lucas, president SIGNIS India, told ucanews.com from Rome, that he felt proud as an Indian when Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a saint. "I feel honored and blessed to have St. Teresa as our icon of hope for the hopeless. As a person who was fortunate to have met her, I feel humbled and challenged to carry forward her mission of selfless service," Lucas said. Ana Parez who traveled from Spain to Kolkata to be at the motherhouse for the ceremony said, "We need to emulate her way of loving and accepting people." Leaders from other faiths also came to pay their respects at St. Teresa's tomb. Idris Ali, a Muslim, told ucanews.com, that St. Teresa who did a lot of work, "was a friend of the poor, loved everyone, spoke our local Bengali language and was one with us." "We have lost her but gained a saint in her," he said. Watch this ucanews.com video of people paying their respect at the tomb of St. Teresa in Kolkata.
Hindu leader Swami Saradatmananda who was at the tomb said, "St. Teresa served humanity crossing all barriers of religion. Those we consider ugly and unclean, she took them as her own." Dolores Pereira from Kolkata, who also attended the ceremony, said it is a momentous day for her and her family. "She has touched my life in countless ways and has interceded for every one of my petitions. She is truly miraculous and deserves the honor," she added. The canonization at the Vatican was followed by a Mass concelebrated by the Indian nuncio Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio by the side of the tomb of St. Teresa. "She was a great gift for India, a witness of hope, joy and peace. The great secret power of St. Teresa was to care for the needy, hungry, wounded and those in the prison as she saw Christ in each one of them. She was tiny in physical stature but strong as a rock of faith," he told the gathering in Kolkata. "Pope Francis told me that St. Teresa is the icon of mercy and must have her sainthood in this special jubilee Year of Mercy," he said. During the Mass, Archbishop Pennacchio gifted the nuns a chalice and a special stamp on Mother Teresa released at the Vatican. The nuns ended the celebrations with singing of hymns, much clapping and distribution of cake among the devotees.
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