Inside the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard in Manhattan, Cardinal Dolan celebrated a Mass honoring St. Teresa of Kolkata, still affectionately known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The Mass was offered Sept. 5, the saint’s feast day.
“Are we ever happy to celebrate Mother’s feast day with all of you,” said Cardinal Dolan in remarks at the start of the morning Mass, addressing the nearly 20 Missionaries of Charity sisters among the 270 congregants.
“We are grateful to you for keeping Mother Teresa alive,” added the cardinal, noting the works the Missionaries of Charity continue to carry out on behalf of their foundress.
Later in his homily, he said, “It sure is a joy and an honor for me to be here with you for the beautiful feast of St. Teresa of Kolkata, our beloved Mother Teresa. Dear sisters, happy feast day.”
The cardinal mentioned St. Teresa’s “outstanding charity to minister to the poorest of the poor.”
“She told us once that wherever you are—wherever you are—in all the world, it doesn’t really make any difference because right there, wherever you are, God is calling you to love and serve. And of course where Mother Teresa was, was Calcutta.”
Mother Teresa, who was born in what is now North Macedonia, founded the Missionaries of Charity in India in 1950.
“So it could be on 14th Street, it could be on Wall Street; it could be in a factory, it could be in a school, in our homes and neighborhoods…Wherever we are, God there calls us to love and serve,” Cardinal Dolan said.
The cardinal noted St. Teresa’s strong belief in serving “the least of my brothers and sisters,” as Jesus taught in the Gospel reading from St. Matthew. The cardinal also expressed his gratitude for the hospitality he received “in this beautiful Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe” on West 14th Street.
Sister Maria Agnes, M.C., Bronx-based regional superior of the Missionaries of Charity, told CNY after the liturgy that the Missionaries of Charity appreciate all the support they have received.
“We are very grateful for all that the archdiocese has done for us, the Missionaries of Charity, and for the poor people—and we are grateful for Cardinal Dolan’s presence here today,” Sister Maria Agnes said. “His homily was very beautiful.
“He has always been very close to us, and he understands Mother’s spirit and our service to the poor.”
Her region covers the East Coast from Quebec to Washington, D.C.—108 sisters in all, including 32 in the archdiocese, with houses in the Bronx, Harlem and Greenwich Village.
The Mass was conducted in English and Spanish, along with Latin for The Lord’s Prayer, Agnus Dei and the Gloria. It featured a framed portrait of St. Teresa, on display near the altar, and an encased relic of the saint (a piece of her hair), which was blessed by the parish’s pastor, Father Santiago Rubio, who served as a concelebrant.
Before the Mass, volunteers pinned small blue ribbons as Mass-goers entered church. Attached to the ribbons was a small medallion with the face of St. Teresa, and one with an image of St. Mary Mother of God. At the start of Mass, Cardinal Dolan noted that the gathering would serve also as remembrance of Father Rubio’s mother, Maria Guadalupe Clemente, who died last month in the family’s native Mexico.
“Brothers and sisters, welcome to Our Lady of Guadalupe to celebrate the feast day of St. Teresa of Kolkata,” said Father Rubio during opening remarks. He said St. Teresa’s legacy “materializes in the world today” through the works of the Missionaries of Charity sisters.
Parishioner Maria Mora, 22, who attended the Mass, told CNY that “Mother Teresa was a nun who helped many poor people, and many sick people.” Ms. Mora’s teenage brother and sister and their mother joined her.
“It is a beautiful thing that these nuns continue her tradition,” she said. “It is a tradition that will never end.”
A lunch reception followed the Mass. During the gathering in the basement hall, a video, “Mother Teresa: The Legacy,” was shown.
Mother Teresa was born on Aug. 26, 1910, and she died on Sept. 5, 1997. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003, and canonized by Pope Francis in 2016.
The Missionaries of Charity sisters worldwide celebrate her birthday, Sister Maria Agnes noted, because her earthly birth “was a gift from God in heaven.” And they celebrate her feast day because on the day she died “she was born in heaven.”
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