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The poor evangelized Mother Teresa first, Vatican envoy says

Cardinal Filoni visits Missionaries of Charity's Kolkata motherhouse

The poor evangelized Mother Teresa first, Vatican envoy says

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, right, lights a candle from a traditional Indian lamp offered by Missionaries of Charity superior-general, Sister Mary Prema, at the tomb of Blessed Mother Teresa in Kolkata. (Photo by Julian S. Das)

Julian S. Das, Kolkata
India

September 15, 2015

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Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Vatican official overseeing the Church's missionary activities across the globe, visited the tomb of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, saying the poor in the eastern Indian city evangelized the saintly nun before she began her work.

Cardinal Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, celebrated Mass Sept. 15 at the tomb of the nun, who is buried inside the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity congregation she founded in 1950.

"Mother Teresa was a great evangelizer, but she was first evangelized by the poor," said the Vatican official, who was born in 1946, the same year Mother Teresa was said to have received her inner call to serve the "poorest of the poor".

At the tomb he placed a special prayer intention to pray for the protection of all those engaged in the work of evangelization across the globe. He also invited the nuns to say a prayer each day for evangelization.

The cardinal's three-day visit to India was largely based in Kolkata, where Blessed Teresa began her work in the slums after she left the comfort of her Loreto convent, abandoning the traditional nun's habit for an Indian sari.

"Mother Teresa evangelized through her simple maternal love to the underprivileged," said Cardinal Filoni.

"The poor are not the receivers, but we are the receivers from them and they help us to convert ourselves and they are truly evangelizers," Cardinal Filoni said.

He noted that nuns of the Missionaries of Charity continue to be "the pilgrims of evangelization" across the word in places like Baghdad, Hong Kong, the Philippines and in African countries.

Sister Christy, a senior nun, told ucanews.com that the congregation has been growing even after the death of Mother Teresa in 1997.

In 1998 the congregation had 4,000 nuns working in 606 houses across the globe; by March 2015 they had 5,044 nuns in 768 houses, 515 of them overseas and 243 in India.

Accompanying the cardinal was Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, papal nuncio to India and Nepal, and Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Calcutta.

The cardinal spent more than two hours at the motherhouse, before leaving for a short visit to Kolkata's Cathedral of the Most Holy Rosary, where he led a short prayer service.

The cardinal cut short his 10-day tour of South Asia, returning to Rome Sept. 15. A planned Sept. 15-19 visit to Nepal was canceled amid heated debate over secularism being included in the country's constitution.

 

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