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Missionaries of Charity to keep Mother’s canonisation low key like her life

india Updated: Sep 04, 2016 11:53 IST
Joydeep Thakur
Missionaries of Charity

Nuns of the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata walk past a large banner of Mother Teresa ahead of her canonisation.(Reuters)

As the world geared up for the sainthood of Mother Teresa, so did the institution founded by her in Kolkata --- but without any pomp and grandeur. Very much in tune with the life and thoughts of the Mother, the arrangements at Mother House were simple, and the ambience quiet.

More than a hundred thousand people are expected at Sunday’s canonisation ceremony for Mother Teresa at the Vatican City, marking the culmination of a process described as long, complex, opaque and often contentious.

But sisters of Missionaries of Charity are determined to keep the celebrations low-key and turn the occasion into a moment to reenergize efforts to further Mother’s cause to serve the poorest of the poor and sick.

Sister Blessila, who is supervising all arrangements at Mother House, said, “We will just set up giant screens to project the canonisation process from television channels. We will all gather to witness the entire process as it unfolds. Apart from this, we have no extra arrangement.”

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Iconic blue-bordered saris, worn by nuns of the Missionaries of Charity, hang next a picture of Mahatma Gandhi inside the Gandhiji Prem Nivas, a Leprosy centre conducted by Missionaries of Charity in Titagarh, north of Kolkata on Saturday. (AP)

“Like every other day, there will be a mass at 6am on Sunday. All Sisters will be present. Visitors can see her tomb, the room she lived in and the museum between 8am and 12 noon,” Sister Blessila said.

However, at Nirmal Hriday, a home for the dying destitute in Kalighat, and Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, a home for children — both run by Missionaries of Charity — Sisters will be offering something different to the inmates on this special occasion.

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“As all of us, including cooks, will be busy following the canonization, we have decided to order biriyani from a nearby restaurant for the inmates. There are around 110 of them, all picked up from roads while being in great distress. Most of them have got cured now,” said a Sister at Nirmal Hriday.

Nuns from the Missionaries of Charity watch weavers at Gandhiji Prem Nivas, or Gandhiji House of Love, in Titagarh, north of Kolkata on Saturday. The center is a leprosy hospital, rehabilitation and vocational training center run by Missionaries of Charity. (AP)

Read | A saint who was more of a mother: Remembering Blessed Teresa

At Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, Sisters will dish out a special menu comprising fried rice and chicken, cooked in their own kitchen, for the 95-odd children. Not all of them, however, will be able to attend the morning mass because some are ailing and some are less than six-month-old.

The Catholic Church posthumously confers sainthood on people considered so holy during their lives that they are now believed to be with God and can intercede with Him to perform miracles.

Mother Teresa died in 1997 and the late Pope John Paul, who met her often, bent Vatican rules to grant a dispensation allowing the procedure to establish her case for sainthood to be launched two years after her death instead of the usual five.

Nuns and devotees offering prayers at Mother Teresa's tomb in Missionaries of Charity House ahead of her canonization by Vatican Church, in Kolkata on Saturday. (PTI)

He had even considered making her a saint immediately but cardinals convinced him it would set a dangerous precedent, even though in the early Church people were acclaimed saints upon their death.

The canonisation procedure requires at least two miracles . In 2002, the Vatican officially recognised a miracle linked to Mother Teresa after her death - the healing in 1998 of a tribal woman, Monika Besra, who was suffering from an abdominal tumour. The second miracle was from Brazil, where a person was healed miraculously as a result of her earlier prayers.

Also read | Mother Teresa belonged to the world, and India

Full coverage of the Mother Teresa canonisation here