VATICAN INSIDER: THE AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHER BEHIND THE ST. TERESA TAPESTRY – POPE VISITS NEONATAL HOSPITAL AND HOSPICE FOR TERMINALLY ILL

Have a great weekend! I’ll be back with you next Tuesday when I return to Rome – but check just in case I have some photos to post from the Family Celebration. Also check Facebook (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420)

VATICAN INSIDER: THE AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHER BEHIND THE ST. TERESA TAPESTRY

As you know, I am in Birmingham, Alabama this weekend for the EWTN Family celebration but I’ve been working on “Vatican Insider” to bring you the latest Vatican news and also, as I do every weekend, a conversation with a guest. You won’t want to miss this week’s interview segment when I talk to Michael Collopy, a portrait photographer whose life story could make a fascinating movie, especially his years with Mother Teresa! Wait till you hear his stories!

20160903_181913 20160903_183307

Most importantly, Michael is the photographer behind the images on the tapestry displayed for St. Teresa’s canonization. Did you know that? Stay tuned and hear him tell that story – a story that should be better known.

20160904_104911

Here are the two photos that inspired the artist Chas Fagan to paint the image for the tapestry (sorry for the repeat photo of the hands – have tried for 15 minutes to cut/delete it).  Fagan had never met Mother Teresa and so relied on the images from a man who had known her for 15 years! You see his photos and then the Fagan painting inspired by those photos.

tapestry-1tapestry-2

MT2A

MT2A

David Ramsey Commercial Photography 1124 S. Mint St Studio C Charlotte, NC 28203 704.376.2139 [#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Image Size:L (7360 x 4912), FX 2016/06/30 15:35:27.10 Time Zone and Date:UTC-5, DST:ON RAW (14-bit) Nikon D800 Lens:VR 105mm f/2.8G Focal Length:105mm Focus Mode:AF-S AF-Area Mode:Single VR:OFF AF Fine Tune:OFF Aperture:f/14 Shutter Speed:1/60s Exposure Mode:Manual Exposure Comp.:0EV Exposure Tuning: Metering:Matrix ISO Sensitivity:ISO 100 Device: White Balance:Color Temp. (5000K), 0, G1 Color Space:Adobe RGB High ISO NR:OFF Long Exposure NR:OFF Active D-Lighting:OFF Image Authentication: Vignette Control:Normal Auto Distortion Control:ON Picture Control:[NL] NEUTRAL Base:[NL] NEUTRAL Quick Adjust:- Sharpening:2 Contrast:0 Brightness:0 Saturation:0 Hue:0 Filter Effects: Toning: Optimize Image: Color Mode: Tone Comp.: Hue Adjustment: Saturation: Sharpening: Latitude: Longitude: Altitude: Altitude Reference: Heading: UTC: Map Datum: [#End of Shooting Data Section]

Forgot to mention how you can listen to VATICAN INSIDER and Michael Collopy this weekend:

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE VISITS NEONATAL HOSPITAL AND HOSPICE FOR TERMINALLY ILL

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has made two more of his impromptu visits to hospitals and social service centres as part of his regular Friday initiatives during this Year of Mercy.

The Pope began by making a surprise visit to the Accident and Emergency department and to the Neonatal unit of Rome’s San Giovanni hospital.

pope-baby

After putting on a mask and completing the other health and safety procedures, the Pope stopped beside the incubators of twelve new born babies, five of whom are suffering from severe complications, including one set of twins. The Holy Father offered words of comfort and support to all of the parents, before going on to meet with staff and families at the nursery on the floor above.

Later in the afternoon the Pope visited some thirty terminally ill patients at the Villa Speranza Hospice, located in the north of Rome as part of the Gemelli University Hospital Foundation.

A note from the Holy See press office explained that through these two ‘Mercy Friday’ encounters, Pope Francis wished to “send a strong signal about the importance of life from its first moment until its natural end”. Welcoming life and guaranteeing its dignity at all times, the statement said, is a teaching that the Pope regularly reiterates. Through these two visits, it concluded, he has given a concrete and tangible sign of the importance of caring for the weakest and most vulnerable in order to show mercy in our lives.

 

Advertisements

POPE FRANCIS’ SURPRISE VISIT WITH PILGRIM CYCLISTS – POPE SAYS PEDIATRIC HOSPITAL MUST BE A “GREAT WORK OF MERCY” – HOW ONE PILGRIM LIVED CANONIZATION DAY

The past several days, as you might well imagine, have been memorable beyond telling. They have been filled with the beautiful excitement of a canonization, with hours of television and radio reports and commentary, with shared meals with so many friends from the U.S. and abroad who knew and loved and volunteered with and for St. Teresa of Calcutta – everyone’s “Mother Teresa.”

I hope to find some quiet time to sit down and reflect what all this has meant to me personally – Mother Teresa’s life and work, the stories I heard from those who knew her so well, who knew she was a saint long before her official canonization. A saint of our times! Our days! Someone we knew and saw and heard and read about.

What have I learned about her life that has changed mine? Have my thoughts, my work, my priorities changed in some way – or been added to by what I learned?

I want to ponder all of this because I do know I am a changed person.

POPE FRANCIS’ SURPRISE VISIT WITH PILGRIM CYCLISTS

(Vatican Radio) A surprise meeting on Tuesday morning in the Vatican made the day for a group of young pilgrims from northern Italy who has cycled to Rome in pilgrimage for this Holy Year of Mercy. (photo news.va)

cyclists-pope

Pope Francis himself stepped out of his Vatican residence at Casa Santa Marta and into the square in front of the building to greet the young ‘pilgrim cyclists’ and to bestow his blessing upon them and ‘don Andrea’, the priest who has accompanied them on their pilgrimage.

The young people traveled on bicycle down the backbone of Italy from two parishes that are part of the Milan diocese. They intend to resume their pilgrimage with a torchlight procession “on wheels”.

“Now that we have received Pope Francis’ apostolic blessing, we shall set off with extra joy,” they said.

POPE SAYS PEDIATRIC HOSPITAL MUST BE A “GREAT WORK OF MERCY”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday encouraged the President of the Vatican’s ‘Bambino Gesù’ pediatric hospital to continue to promote the institution’s good work and promised his personal contribution.

In the course of a private audience with Mariella Enoc – at the head of the children’s hospital since February 2015 – the Pope assured her of his continuing support and said the hospital must evermore be a ‘great work of mercy’.

bambin-gesu

During the heart-to-heart conversation that ‘Bambino Gesù’ President Mariella Enoc said took place in an atmosphere of great friendliness and intimacy, Pope Francis expressed deep interest in an ongoing charity project that sees the Vatican institution actively supporting the Pediatric Hospital of Bangui, in the Central African Republic.

“The Pope even pledged his personal help ” – she told Vatican Radio  – “an economic contribution that will help us ‘adopt’ the African hospital and help it to grow by providing medical formation, by establishing a school that specializes in pediatric care and by building new wards”.

Enoc also spoke to the Pope about how the Bambino Gesù Hospital has been active in helping support refugees and about an agricultural initiative in collaboration with FAO and the Italian state that aims to provide long-term solutions for the poor in the Central African Republic.

Of course much attention was dedicated to the work carried out by the pediatric hospital itself that offers quality health care, taking in children from across the world, many of whom from families who cannot afford to pay.

And this is exactly what the ‘Pope’s Hospital’ that has its roots in the Gospel is expected to do – Enoc pointed out – as she presented Francis with the gift of a one of the beautiful “Madonna of Bangui” photographs that are part of the Bambino Gesù project to raise money for its sister hospital in the Central African Republic.

After the audience Mariella Enoc presented the ‘Santa Marta pediatric dispensary’, where a team of Bambino Gesù doctors offer voluntary service, with an ultrasound scanner as sign of concrete commitment to help in the Pope’s works of mercy.

HOW ONE PILGRIM LIVED CANONIZATION DAY

I thought this was a terrific description of what it was like to participate in the canonization Sunday of Saint Teresa of Calcutta. The entire story reminded me of many similar moments I’ve spent getting to St. Peter’s Square for a big Vatican event, both as a pilgrim and as a journalist! This was written by Terry Wilson for the Dispatch-Argus QCOnline:

Terry Wilson is business development/marketing director for the Dispatch/Argus. He traveled to Rome last week with a tour group of 52 people primarily from the Quad-Cities area. The tour was organized by The Catholic Messenger newspaper and led by the Rev. Marty Goetz.

ROME — We began the day with a 4 a.m. wake-up call and were loaded on the bus and headed to St. Peter’s Square by 5 a.m., more than five hours before the canonization service for Mother Teresa was scheduled to begin.

As our bus neared Vatican City, there were people everywhere. Buses usually park underground there, but the lot was closed due to security and the volume of traffic. We were dropped off a few blocks outside Vatican City. Enza Volpe, our Italian-born tour manager, made things so much easier.

We were provided small fold-up chairs, and with Enza leading the way, we headed toward St. Peter’s Square. After a short walk, we found the streets already blocked with people waiting. The line continued to build behind us, and from the side streets intersecting ours.

The wait in line was an international experience. Waiting along with the rest of us were priests and nuns from many different countries and orders. It would seem that with all of us there to celebrate someone like Mother Teresa, the wait would have been an orderly social exchange. It was just the opposite. The longer we waited, the more people tried to reposition themselves for the best spot, and the pushing and shouting began to escalate. Finally the first of two security checkpoints was opened, and the line began to move.

We had arranged to gather at a meeting place after the service, so getting separated wouldn’t be a concern. Once the mass of people began pushing us through the security funnel, our group was indeed separated, but we all managed to gather in small groups. Our English was of no use at this point, but fortunately for me, Enza ended up with a group of five of us that managed to stay together in the crowd. This gave us the advantage of knowing what the guards and security officers were saying, and helped us move forward to the second security check, just outside St. Peter’s Square.

Once through the second security check, we entered St. Peter’s Square. The sight was breathtaking, with the basilica directly in front of us and with everything now focused on the stage and altar that had been placed on the stairway leading into the church. The view from where we stood was good enough that we decided to stay there rather than moving back into the crowd closer to the front.

We moved to a wooden railing that had been installed to created a corridor between us and the next section and staked our turf. Several other members of our group spotted us, and 10 of us ended up together. We still had several hours to wait, so we made use of our small stools and watched the crowd continue to grow.

There was security everywhere you looked, from the Swiss Army Guard in their colorful uniforms and Vatican Police in their uniforms to numerous security personnel dressed in perfectly pressed black suits.

As St. Peter’s Square continued to fill, so did our area. We were all glad we had the railing with the open corridor next to us, since it offered some relief from the pushing and shoving crowd that surrounded us as we waited. St. Peter’s Square was soon completely filled, and you could see the roads outside the square were also filled with people who couldn’t fit inside.

They began playing music from the stage, and then about 45 minutes before the service started, reciting the Rosary. A peace began to come over the crowd, and listening to the Rosary in many different languages, recited in unison by thousands of people, was truly beautiful. It didn’t change the fact that we were all uncomfortable, standing in direct sunlight with the temperatures in the mid 80s, and people were still vying for the best spot to stand, but  we were in a holy place to celebrate a holy woman.

Soon Pope Francis was center stage, and the service began. We were all given a 112-page soft- cover book with the order of the service, but since neither the books nor the service were in English, it was hard to follow what was happening.

But there was no doubt what was going on when Cardinal Amoto began speaking to the pope. Before Pope Francis could finish his reply, the crowd broke out in excited applause.

The feeling of being present for such a historic moment is hard to explain. I was interviewed by a reporter while standing in the crowd. My answer to her was how personal Mother Teresa’s sainthood is to each of us. This is someone from our time, that we watched, knew and grew to love for all she did for others.

One of the people traveling with my group is Sister Mary Seraphin Beck, OSF, whose Mother House is in Davenport, across the street from St. Alphonsus. She stated simply that being there made us think of not only who we are, but more important, who we want to be.

As the Mass continued, I couldn’t imagine how people were going to move forward for communion, but everything was well organized, and knowing the crowd of over 100,000 was so packed in that people couldn’t move, what seemed like hundreds of priests, including our own Father Goetz, moved out into the crowd to serve communion to the people.

As the service came to a conclusion, anticipation began to build. Would Pope Francis take his customary ride out into the crowd, standing in the Popemobile? We watched the Swiss Guard and the other security officers begin to survey our area of the crowd closely. We then realized the railing we had decided to stand next to was creating the corridor for the Popemobile’s route. Soon he entered the vehicle, the crowd cheered, and out he went to the people. He did indeed pass directly in front of us!

In many ways, attending the canonization was hot, uncomfortable and unpleasant. But not if you compare it to the trials Mother Teresa suffered in her lifetime. It was an amazing experience to see over 100,000 people from all over the world gathered to honor the faith and sainthood of Mother Teresa.

MOTHER TERESA, A GENEROUS DISPENSER OF DIVINE MERCY

A glorious day for the Church, for the Missionaries of Charity and for each of us but especially for the poor, the marginalized, the outcast and the forgotten! The following is Pope Francis’ homily:

MOTHER TERESA, A GENEROUS DISPENSER OF DIVINE MERCY

“Who can learn the counsel of God?” (Wis 9:13). This question from the Book of Wisdom that we have just heard in the first reading suggests that our life is a mystery and that we do not possess the key to understanding it. There are always two protagonists in history: God and man. Our task is to perceive the call of God and then to do his will. But in order to do his will, we must ask ourselves, “What is God’s will in my life?”

20160904_104116

20160904_104212

20160904_104144

We find the answer in the same passage of the Book of Wisdom: “People were taught what pleases you” (Wis 9:18). In order to ascertain the call of God, we must ask ourselves and understand what pleases God. On many occasions the prophets proclaimed what was pleasing to God. Their message found a wonderful synthesis in the words “I want mercy, not sacrifice” (Hos 6:6; Mt 9:13). God is pleased by every act of mercy, because in the brother or sister that we assist, we recognize the face of God which no one can see (cf. Jn 1:18). Each time we bend down to the needs of our brothers and sisters, we give Jesus something to eat and drink; we clothe, we help, and we visit the Son of God (cf. Mt 25:40).

20160904_111959

20160904_104911

20160904_105232

We are thus called to translate into concrete acts that which we invoke in prayer and profess in faith. There is no alternative to charity: those who put themselves at the service of others, even when they don’t know it, are those who love God (cf. 1 Jn 3:16-18; Jas 2:14-18). The Christian life, however, is not merely extending a hand in times of need. If it is just this, it can be, certainly, a lovely expression of human solidarity which offers immediate benefits, but it is sterile because it lacks roots. The task which the Lord gives us, on the contrary, is the vocation to charity in which each of Christ’s disciples puts his or her entire life at his service, so to grow each day in love.

20160904_105606

20160904_112935

20160904_113412

We heard in the Gospel, “Large crowds were travelling with Jesus” (Lk 14:25). Today, this “large crowd” is seen in the great number of volunteers who have come together for the Jubilee of Mercy. You are that crowd who follows the Master and who makes visible his concrete love for each person. I repeat to you the words of the Apostle Paul: “I have indeed received much joy and comfort from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philem 1:7). How many hearts have been comforted by volunteers! How many hands they have held; how many tears they have wiped away; how much love has been poured out in hidden, humble and selfless service! This praiseworthy service gives voice to the faith and expresses the mercy of the Father, who draws near to those in need.

20160904_104312

20160904_113906

20160904_112717

Following Jesus is a serious task, and, at the same time, one filled with joy; it takes a certain daring and courage to recognize the divine Master in the poorest of the poor and to give oneself in their service. In order to do so, volunteers, who out of love of Jesus serve the poor and the needy, do not expect any thanks or recompense; rather they renounce all this because they have discovered true love. Just as the Lord has come to meet me and has stooped down to my level in my hour of need, so too do I go to meet him, bending low before those who have lost faith or who live as though God did not exist, before young people without values or ideals, before families in crisis, before the ill and the imprisoned, before refugees and immigrants, before the weak and defenceless in body and spirit, before abandoned children, before the elderly who are on their own. Wherever someone is reaching out, asking for a helping hand in order to get up, this is where our presence – and the presence of the Church which sustains and offers hope – must be.

20160904_112450

20160904_111959

Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded. She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that “the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable”. She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime of poverty they created. For Mother Teresa, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavour to her work, it was the “light” which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.

(Note from Joan: This tapestry was inspired by several photographs from world renown portrait photograph Michael Collopy. His photos led artist Chas Fagan – who never met Mother Teresa – to create the painting that is the canonization tapestry. The two men spoke over the phone and by Skype to get this portrait and Fagan and Collopy met for the first time in Rome on September 3. I interviewed Michael Collopy, who followed and photographed Mother Teresa for 15 years, on Sept. 3 after that meeting and you will hear the interview on “Vatican Insider”)

20160904_104911

Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor. Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of womanhood and of consecrated life to the whole world of volunteers: may she be your model of holiness! May this tireless worker of mercy help us to increasingly understand that our only criterion for action is gratuitous love, free from every ideology and all obligations, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion. Mother Teresa loved to say, “Perhaps I don’t speak their language, but I can smile”. Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer. In this way, we will open up opportunities of joy and hope for our many brothers and sisters who are discouraged and who stand in need of understanding and tenderness.

20160904_123420

INSIDE THE VATICAN AND “VATICAN INSIDER” – HUGE CROWDS EXPECTED FOR CANONIZATION OF MOTHER TERESA

INSIDE THE VATICAN AND “VATICAN INSIDER”

What a week this has been and what amazing days are ahead of us, culminating in the canonization Sunday of a holy woman known the world over simply as Mother Teresa. Members of the order she founded, the Missionaries of Charity, have been pouring into Rome and they have organized a grand number of events to honor their foundress and soon to be Saint Teresa of Calcutta, including concerts, symposiums, art exhibits, and multi-lingual Masses.

I took this photo this morning as I was entering Vatican Radio for my weekly program, “Joan Knows.” These Missionaries of Charity Sisters were all waiting at the bus stop just out front.

MC nuns

Before I go further let me tell you about my guest in the interview segment. I talk with Fr. Brian Kolodeijchuk, MC, the postulator of Mother Teresa’s cause for canonization. He has, of course, terrific insight and wonderful stories about this diminutive nun who was larger than life for everyone who came into contact with her.

20160322_093547

20160322_093556

Another big event on the calendar this weekend is the three-day Jubilee of Volunteers that culminates Sunday with the papal Mass in St. Peter’s square. This event was already on the Jubilee calendar when the Vatican announced in March that Teresa’s canonization would be the same September day.

Tomorrow morning there is a catechesis event for volunteers, expected to number 25,000, in St. Peter’s Square with Pope Francis. Sunday, as you know, the canonization Mass takes place in the square, and Monday, as is usual after a canonization, there will be a Mass of thanksgiving in St. Peter’s Square presided over by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.

HUGE CROWDS EXPECTED FOR CANONIZATION OF MOTHER TERESA

The Director of the Holy See Press Office Greg Burke said it would be impossible to predict how many people will attend Sunday’s canonization Mass for Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Speaking at a Vatican press conference giving details about the highly-anticipated event, Burke said all 100,000 tickets had been distributed for the Mass but that the crowd would likely be far greater, spilling into the streets around St. Peter’s Square.

Some 600 journalists from all over the world have flocked to Rome to cover Mother Teresa’s canonization which is being seen by many as the highlight of this Jubilee Year of Mercy. More than a dozen heads of state or government will be among the many dignitaries attending the Mass.

Among those speaking at the packed press conference on Friday morning were Sister Mary Prema Pierick, the Superior General of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postulator for her sainthood cause and Marcilio Haddad Andrino, the Brazilian who was declared miraculously healed through Mother Teresa’s intercession.

Andrino described how he was suffering from a viral brain infection and the doctors had lost all hope of saving his life when his wife Fernanda prayed to Mother Teresa and immediately afterwards he found himself miraculously healed from the illness. He expressed gratitude for his recovery but said he is just one example of God’s ample mercy and love and stressed he “did not feel special.” Within a year, his wife became pregnant and they were able to have two children even though Andrino had been told that the powerful drugs he had taken had made him infertile. He called his two children “the extension of that miracle.”

Turning to the technical side of the canonization Mass, Burke told journalists that the event will be filmed using 4K Ultra High Definition and using nine television cameras. He said the Canonization can also be seen on the Vatican’s YouTube platform, on the Vatican player of Vatican Radio and on the website of the Vatican Television Service (CTV). (from Vatican Radio)

MOTHER TERESA, A BIO: JESUS’ THIRST FOR LOVE AND FOR SOULS TOOK HOLD OF HER HEART

MOTHER TERESA, A BIO: JESUS’ THIRST FOR LOVE AND FOR SOULS TOOK HOLD OF HER HEART

By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus. ”Small of stature, rocklike in faith, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was entrusted with the mission of proclaiming God’s thirsting love for humanity, especially for the poorest of the poor. “God still loves the world and He sends you and me to be His love and His compassion to the poor.” She was a soul filled with the light of Christ, on fire with love for Him and burning with one desire: “to quench His thirst for love and for souls.”

This luminous messenger of God’s love was born on 26 August 1910 in Skopje, a city situated at the crossroads of Balkan history. The youngest of the children born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, she was baptised Gonxha Agnes, received her First Communion at the age of five and a half and was confirmed in November 1916. From the day of her First Holy Communion, a love for souls was within her. Her father’s sudden death when Gonxha was about eight years old left in the family in financial straits. Drane raised her children firmly and lovingly, greatly influencing her daughter’s character and vocation. Gonxha’s religious formation was further assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart in which she was much involved.

TIME - TERESA

At the age of eighteen, moved by a desire to become a missionary, Gonxha left her home in September 1928 to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland. There she received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Thérèse of Lisieux. In December, she departed for India, arriving in Calcutta on 6 January 1929. After making her First Profession of Vows in May 1931, Sister Teresa was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta and taught at St. Mary’s School for girls. On 24 May 1937, Sister Teresa made her Final Profession of Vows, becoming, as she said, the “spouse of Jesus” for “all eternity.” From that time on she was called Mother Teresa. She continued teaching at St. Mary’s and in 1944 became the school’s principal. A person of profound prayer and deep love for her religious sisters and her students, Mother Teresa’s twenty years in Loreto were filled with profound happiness. Noted for her charity, unselfishness and courage, her capacity for hard work and a natural talent for organization, she lived out her consecration to Jesus, in the midst of her companions, with fidelity and joy.

On 10 September 1946 during the train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, Mother Teresa received her “inspiration,” her “call within a call.” On that day, in a way she would never explain, Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls took hold of her heart and the desire to satiate His thirst became the driving force of her life. Over the course of the next weeks and months, by means of interior locutions and visions, Jesus revealed to her the desire of His heart for “victims of love” who would “radiate His love on souls.” Come be My light,” He begged her. “I cannot go alone.” He revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. He asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. Nearly two years of testing and discernment passed before Mother Teresa received permission to begin. On August 17, 1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari and passed through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to enter the world of the poor.

TERESA-JOHN PAUL

After a short course with the Medical Mission Sisters in Patna, Mother Teresa returned to Calcutta and found temporary lodging with the Little Sisters of the Poor. On 21 December she went for the first time to the slums. She visited families, washed the sores of some children, cared for an old man lying sick on the road and nursed a woman dying of hunger and TB. She started each day in communion with Jesus in the Eucharist and then went out, rosary in her hand, to find and serve Him in “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.” After some months, she was joined, one by one, by her former students.

On 7 October 1950 the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was officially established in the Archdiocese of Calcutta. By the early 1960s, Mother Teresa began to send her Sisters to other parts of India. The Decree of Praise granted to the Congregation by Pope Paul VI in February 1965 encouraged her to open a house in Venezuela. It was soon followed by foundations in Rome and Tanzania and, eventually, on every continent. Starting in 1980 and continuing through the 1990s, Mother Teresa opened houses in almost all of the communist countries, including the former Soviet Union, Albania and Cuba.

In order to respond better to both the physical and spiritual needs of the poor, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963, in 1976 the contemplative branch of the Sisters, in 1979 the Contemplative Brothers, and in 1984 the Missionaries of Charity Fathers. Yet her inspiration was not limited to those with religious vocations. She formed the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, people of many faiths and nationalities with whom she shared her spirit of prayer, simplicity, sacrifice and her apostolate of humble works of love. This spirit later inspired the Lay Missionaries of Charity. In answer to the requests of many priests, in 1981 Mother Teresa also began the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests as a “little way of holiness” for those who desire to share in her charism and spirit.

During the years of rapid growth the world began to turn its eyes towards Mother Teresa and the work she had started. Numerous awards, beginning with the Indian Padmashri Award in 1962 and notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, honoured her work, while an increasingly interested media began to follow her activities. She received both prizes and attention “for the glory of God and in the name of the poor.”

The whole of Mother Teresa’s life and labour bore witness to the joy of loving, the greatness and dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully and with love, and the surpassing worth of friendship with God. But there was another heroic side of this great woman that was revealed only after her death. Hidden from all eyes, hidden even from those closest to her, was her interior life marked by an experience of a deep, painful and abiding feeling of being separated from God, even rejected by Him, along with an ever-increasing longing for His love. She called her inner experience, “the darkness.”  The “painful night” of her soul, which began around the time she started her work for the poor and continued to the end of her life, led Mother Teresa to an ever more profound union with God. Through the darkness she mystically participated in the thirst of Jesus, in His painful and burning longing for love, and she shared in the interior desolation of the poor.

During the last years of her life, despite increasingly severe health problems, Mother Teresa continued to govern her Society and respond to the needs of the poor and the Church. By 1997, Mother Teresa’s Sisters numbered nearly 4,000 members and were established in 610 foundations in 123 countries of the world. In March 1997 she blessed her newly-elected successor as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity and then made one more trip abroad. After meeting Pope John Paul II for the last time, she returned to Calcutta and spent her final weeks receiving visitors and instructing her Sisters.

On 5 September Mother Teresa’s earthly life came to an end. She was given the honour of a state funeral by the Government of India and her body was buried in the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Her tomb quickly became a place of pilgrimage and prayer for people of all faiths, rich and poor alike. Mother Teresa left a testament of unshakable faith, invincible hope and extraordinary charity. Her response to Jesus’ plea, “Come be My light,” made her a Missionary of Charity, a “mother to the poor,” a symbol of compassion to the world, and a living witness to the thirsting love of God.

Less than two years after her death, in view of Mother Teresa’s widespread reputation of holiness and the favours being reported, Pope John Paul II permitted the opening of her Cause of Canonization. On 20 December 2002 he approved the decrees of her heroic virtues and miracles. (from vatican. va)

TRADEMARK SAREES ARE TITAGARH’S GIFT TO THE VATICAN

TRADEMARK SAREES ARE TITAGARH’S GIFT TO THE VATICAN

(From the Hindustan Times – Joydeep Thakur)

The otherwise dull eyes of septuagenarian Shefali Roy sparkled with excitement and her face filled up with joy as she went on to narrate how sisters from the Missionaries of Charity across the world would be donning the iconic white and blue saree during the canonization ceremony of Mother Teresa at Vatican on September 4.

These sarees are, however, no ordinary ones. They are not found in the market no matter what price one offers for them. These sarees are woven and stitched by leprosy patients at a home in a dingy lane at Titagarh in North 24-Parganas.

SAREES 1

Titagarh is about 20 km from Kolkata and is a part of the area along the Hooghly river that developed into an industrial in the 19th century.

Roy is one of the senior-most and oldest members of that home – the Gandhiji Prem Nivas. It is a home for leprosy patients run by the Missionaries of Charity. After being detected with leprosy more than 40 years ago, she was forced to leave her home in Cooch Behar. She had since then taken refuge in the Niwas along with her daughter like many others.

Mother Teresa’s mission survives beyond her life

“You could hardly imagine our feelings when we used to see Mother wearing a saree which had been weaved and stitched by us. Society ostracized us for the disease but the sarees which we make are worn by sisters of the charity the world over. The Mother also wore it till her last breath. Now the sisters wear them,” she said sitting in a room, the walls of which are adorned with pictures of the Mother and Pope Francis.

The Gandhiji Prem Nivas was established in 1979 when sisters of the Missionaries of Charity used to come to Titagarh to organise a medical camp under a tree to treat leprosy patients. Later, it was upgraded and a makeshift hut was built with just a few inmates.

Now it is a full-fledged home the foundation of which was laid in the early 90’s by then chief minister Jyoti Bas

SAREES 2

The welfare home for leprosy patients was established in 1979. None of the 5,500 sisters of Missionaries Of Charity working in more than 130 countries wear anything except these sarees.

Work starts at this welfare home at 8 am every day. More than 400 men and women – all leprosy patients – work round the year to produce around 4,000 hand-woven sarees. These are then directly sent to the Missionaries of Charity’s headquarters in Kolkata from where they are supplied to the sisters across the world. There are more than 5,500 sisters working in more than 130 countries now.

“In fact, all the sisters, including Sister Mary Prema Pierick, who is the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, would also wear the same sarees that have been woven by the leprosy patients of the Nivas when they attend the canonisation ceremony at Vatican on September 4,” said Brother Marinus, who is in charge of the Titagarh home.

Sunday would be a big day for the inmates and workers of the leper home. They are preparing to celebrate it in their own small way with evening prayers and probably a small supper, if funds permit. Even though it would be a Sunday and a holiday for the workers who stay in adjacent leper colonies, the authorities of the home are planning to set up a giant screen to project the canonisation process from the television and show it to the workers.

But while just three days remain for the world to witness the canonisation process of Mother, the saree weavers don’t really understand the complexity and gravity of the ceremony.

“We are not sure what exactly canonisation is. We just know that it is something very important and that Mother would be honoured,” said 65-year-old Arati Roy, one of the inmates of the colony.

 

POPE AWAKENED BY EARTHQUAKE LAST WEEK, SAID MASS AT 4 AM – INTERVIEW WITH MOTHER SUPERIOR OF MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY

POPE AWAKENED BY EARTHQUAKE LAST WEEK, SAID MASS AT 4 AM

VATICAN CITY (Josephine McKenna – Religious News Service) — While Pope Francis has expressed his sympathy for the victims of Italy’s devastating earthquake, few may have realized the pontiff himself was shaken by the 6.2 magnitude temblor as he slept at his residence inside the walls of the Vatican.

Bishop Domenico Pompili of Rieti, which is close to the medieval towns most affected by the quake, said the pope had telephoned him three times since Wednesday (Aug. 24) to ask about the victims and their families.

More than 290 people were killed when houses and buildings collapsed in the towns north of Rome.

During one of the calls Francis disclosed that the shock waves woke him 100 miles away.

“He told me he had felt the earthquake,” Pompili told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. “He had woken up, was informed and celebrated Mass for us at 4 a.m.”

Francis led prayers for the quake victims at the Vatican on Sunday (Aug. 28) and announced plans to visit survivors in the affected area soon.

“He feels very upset,” Pompili said. “He came to this area a couple of times, almost anonymously, in January and July. He loves us.”

Pompili, who was appointed by Francis in 2015, said the pope had also called him during the rescue operations to find out how many children were trapped and how many had been saved.

Italian media reports said the pope did not want to interfere with the emergency operations led by the civil protection department and was expected to visit the area before the Jubilee Year of Mercy ended on November 20.

“I hope to come to see you as soon as possible, to bring you in person the comfort of the faith, the embrace of a father and a brother, and the support of Christian hope,” the pope said in remarks at the noontime Angelus prayer at the Vatican on Sunday.

In a related development, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg met with Francis at the Vatican on Monday and afterward announced that Facebook will give 500,000 euros, or about $560,000, to the Italian Red Cross to help relief efforts in the earthquake-stricken region north of Rome.

He said the money would be in the form of advertising credits that can be used on the Facebook platform to promote fundraising, organize volunteers, solicit blood donations, and to help people who need accommodations.

Italy held a day of national mourning for the quake victims Saturday.

The president, Sergio Mattarella, and the prime minister, Matteo Renzi, joined hundreds at a state funeral in Ascoli Piceno to mourn 35 of the victims, including an 18-month-old baby, while flags flew at half-staff across the country.

More funerals were due to be held in the devastated town of Amatrice on Tuesday evening.

INTERVIEW WITH MOTHER SUPERIOR OF MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY

(Vatican Radio) – Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is set to be canonized on Sunday, September 4th.

Mother Teresa founded the religious order Missionaries of Charity, which is based in Calcutta, India. She dedicated her life to helping the poorest of the poor.

She was beatified by John Paul II in 2003, just 6 years after her death at the age of 87.

The current Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity is Sister Mary Prema Pierick, who first met Mother Teresa in 1980.

SR PREMA

Listen to part 1 of the interview with Sister Prema: 

She told Vatican Radio Mother Teresa’s holiness was so present in her life, the members of the congregation took it for granted.

“We lived with Mother and we took it for granted that she is available and that she is always attentive to us,” she said.

Listen to Part 2 of the interview with Sister Prema:

“We enjoyed her presence and we wanted to know from her how she lived the day, and how she went about the work she was doing,” Sister Prema continued.

“But deeply, I did not know how she was united with Jesus, and how deeply she lived the Gospel message of Jesus,” – Sister Prema said – “I can see that the works of mercy had become like a second nature to Mother, but that was Mother, and we took it for granted.”

(http://www.news.va/en/news/sister-prema-mercy-second-nature-to-mother-teresa)