Diocese receives gift of relic on Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday

Photo Caption: After a Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral on the centenary of Blessed Mother Teresa’s birth, Sister Jesusla accepts a floral “cake” from Anna and Michelle Neptune of St. Patrick’s Parish, Colona.

By: By Tom Dermody

Editor’s note: More photos from Thursday’s Mass can be seen by clicking on the Post Photos logo at left or by visiting The Catholic Post’s Facebook page.

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As Catholics around the world celebrated the 100th birthday of Blessed Mother Teresa on Aug. 26, the Diocese of Peoria received a priceless gift from the religious community the late nun founded.

The Missionaries of Charity have given the diocese a first-class relic of their foundress — a lock of Mother Teresa’s hair preserved in a reliquary. It will be displayed with other relics in the St. Thomas More Chapel of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, which Mother Teresa visited in 1995.

On July 16, the cathedral hosted relics of Mother Teresa touring North America ahead of her birthday celebration. Those relics included included a lock of her hair, her rosary and crucifix, and a reliquary containing a drop of her blood.

“It’s good to have Mother Teresa back in the cathedral,” said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, in accepting the permanent relic from Msgr. Paul Showalter, vicar general, who presented it on behalf of the Missionaries of Charity serving in the cathedral neighborhood.

Bishop Jenky raised the reliquary for all to see and then venerated it with a kiss.

The presentation came at the conclusion of a noon Mass celebrated by Bishop Jenky on Mother Teresa’s birth centenary. The four members of Peoria’s Missionaries of Charity community were seated in the front pew, and before Mass the assembly prayed the rosary as well as other special prayers for Mother Teresa.

“Her witness, her life, and her love have changed the world,” said Bishop Jenky of Mother Teresa in remarks at the start of Mass. Later, Bishop Jenky called the Nobel Peace Prize-winning nun — who died on Sept. 5, 1997 — a “great apostle of Christ’s great love.”

The Gospel reading included the crucifixion story from the 19th chapter of the Gospel of John, during which Jesus said, “I thirst.”

In his homily, Bishop Jenky noted the special meaning those words had for Mother Teresa, who he said “very deeply and profoundly heard the cry of Christ from the cross.”

“Jesus did not thirst for water, but in his endless love, Jesus thirsted for our souls,” said Bishop Jenky.

“Mother knew that his cry of love needed to be answered with response of love,” said Bishop Jenky. He said Mother Teresa and now the Missionaries of Charity and their supporters “freely serve Christ when they freely serve, even the very poorest of the poor.”

The phrase “I thirst” not only appears on the walls of Missionaries of Charity locations in Peoria and around the world, said Bishop Jenky, but “the words ‘I thirst for souls’ is branded on the heart of every Missionary of Charity.'”

All Catholics today should share common “thirsts,” said Bishop Jenky, including for God’s love, mercy, healing, help, challenge, strength, inspiration, grace, and “to finally see Him face to face.”

“And in the Eucharist our thirst can be satisfied,” said Bishop Jenky. He congratulated those at the Mass for celebrating Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday “in the best possible way . . . . by tasting and seeing the great goodness of the Lord.”

Among those attending the special Mass was a group of about a dozen Catholics from the Quad Cities. After the Mass, two members of the group — Anna Neptune and her daughter, Michelle, members of St. Patrick’s Parish in Colona — presented the Missionaries of Charity with a circular birthday “cake” made with blue and white carnations and daisies and topped with an image of Mother Teresa.

“She’s a saint from our time,” said Anna Neptune of Mother Teresa, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003. She said among Mother Teresa’s many attributes that today’s Catholics should emulate are her humility and service to the poor.

A bronze statue of Mother Teresa near the cathedral entrance commemorates her 1995 visit to Peoria.

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