Cathedral Mass will honor St. Teresa of Kolkata, Missionaries of Charity Sept. 10
Thousands of people from around the world filled St. Peter’s Square in Rome last Sunday to hear Pope Francis “declare and define” Mother Teresa’s sainthood, but that kind of good news isn’t something that can be confined to one day. The celebration continues this Saturday, Sept. 10, with a Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.
Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will be the main celebrant for the 4 p.m. liturgy, which will include the presentation of a first-class relic of St. Teresa of
Kolkata — a lock of her hair. The church that once hosted the future saint and remained open for as long as people wanted to greet her will do so again so that everyone will have an opportunity to venerate her relic, according to Msgr. Stanley Deptula, rector of the cathedral and director of the Office of Divine Worship.
After Mass, the reliquary will find a permanent home in a new shrine erected in the Lady Chapel during the cathedral’s restoration.
“The bishop wanted to include Mother Teresa with all of those other saintly women that are honored in our Lady Chapel — St. Therese, patroness of our vocations; St. Anne, the mother of Our Lord’s Blessed Mother; the holy women of Scripture,” Msgr. Deptula told The Catholic Post.
In addition to the reliquary, the shrine includes a photo taken during Mother Teresa’s visit to the cathedral in 1995 and a kneeler for private prayer.
Bishop Jenky has asked Father Jeremy Freehill of Rock Island to be the homilist for the diocesan celebration, which also marks the 25th anniversary of the arrival of Mother Teresa’s community, the Missionaries of Charity, in Peoria.
A chaplain at Alleman High School who also offers sacramental care at Augustana College, Father Freehill’s seminary experience included work with the members of Mother Teresa’s community. He credits her as having a strong influence on his spirituality.
As he carries the relic of Mother Teresa to the front of the cathedral for veneration, Msgr. Deptula will be accompanied by many of the children who have benefited from the summer camp offered by the Missionaries of Charity. They will place candles around her photo and relic, which will be placed in front of the Blessed Mother during the liturgy.
“Our diocese has had a relationship with her going back many, many years — before she was ever on the world stage, before she received the Nobel Prize,” Msgr. Deptula said.
“The spirit of Mother Teresa can really be felt in our diocese and seen in our diocesan commitment to Catholic Charities and programs like Sophia’s Kitchen right here in Peoria,” he said. “So many people carry on that legacy of Mother Teresa by encountering Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor.”
The diocesan celebration “should be a worthy celebration of a great woman,” Msgr. Deptula said.