Diocese celebrates St. Teresa of Kolkata, gives thanks for Missionaries of Charity

Bishop Jenky uses a relic of St. Teresa of Kolkata to bless members of her community, the Missionaries of Charity, following a Sept. 10 Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral. The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems

In a celebration that drew Missionaries of Charity from as far away as Chicago; Indianapolis and Gary, Indiana; St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota; and St. Louis to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, gave thanks for the canonization of their foundress, St. Teresa of Kolkata.

He also led the applause for the community, which has been present in the Diocese of Peoria for 25 years. After the Mass of Thanksgiving on Sept. 10, the Missionaries of Charity who serve in central Illinois and the other members of Mother Teresa’s order present in the cathedral were invited to have their photo taken with Bishop Jenky.

A first class relic of St. Teresa of Kolkata, a lock of her hair, is carried into St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria as the Mass celebrating her canonization begins on Sept. 10. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

A first class relic of St. Teresa of Kolkata, a lock of her hair, is carried into St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria as the Mass celebrating her canonization begins on Sept. 10. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“This diocese is so blessed with the army of religious who serve here,” he said before the final blessing, inviting all of the consecrated women and men to join him in the sanctuary for a second photo to mark the occasion.

A light reception, hosted by the Missionaries of Charity, followed at the nearby Franz Center.

Adding to the joy of the celebration was the presentation of a lock of the new saint’s hair, a first class relic. Encased in a glass case, the reliquary was brought into the church on a platform carried by four pontifical servers and accompanied by children in the cathedral’s religious formation program, which is taught by the Missionaries of Charity.

Each child carried an electric candle, which they placed around the relic when it came to rest in front of the Blessed Mother’s side altar. After the liturgy, people pressed holy cards to the glass case or knelt for a few moments of private veneration before the relic.

VOCATION TO THE POOR

Just as Mary’s consecration to God brought her a spirit of great joy and allowed her to give cheerful service to others, so did Mother Teresa’s total devotion to Mary’s Son, according to Father Jeremy Freehill, the homilist for the Mass of Thanksgiving. (Click here for the full homily text.)

Sister M. Angeles, MC, walks with the children, who are carrying electric candles, as they process into the cathedral with the relic of St. Teresa of Kolkata. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Sister M. Angeles, MC, walks with the children, who are carrying electric candles, as they process into the cathedral with the relic of St. Teresa of Kolkata. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

He said she knew God gave her a love for souls at an early age and a “vocation to the poor.” Mother Teresa wanted to be a missionary and “give the life of Christ to the people in missionary countries.”

“She knew this was the will of God,” said Father Freehill, who is chaplain at Alleman High School in Rock Island and involved in sacramental care at Augustana College. She would later say, “It was his choice.”

While she professed first and final vows with the Sisters of Loreto, Mother Teresa felt a call to give up her life with the community, where she had been happy, to serve the poorest of the poor. She started the Missionaries of Charity on Sept. 10, 1946.

“The call would not be easy, a call to be a victim of the Lord’s love for the poor, but she knew once again it was (God’s) choice,” Father Freehill said.

“The aim of the Missionaries of Charity is to quench the thirst of Jesus for love and souls by laboring for the sanctification and salvation of the poorest of the poor,” he told those who filled St. Mary’s Cathedral. “Mother Teresa always said Our Lady was the first to know this thirst of Jesus for each individual person.”

He said if we want to know how Mary responded to that thirst, labored for souls, and helped people know of God’s love for them, we need only look to Mother Teresa.

Addressing his “MC sisters,” Father Freehill said they were also a reflection of the Blessed Mother.

“We give thanks for your loving trust and total surrender to God on the day of your consecration. We give thanks for your spirit of joy and the cheerful service you give to the poorest of the poor,” he told them. “We give you thanks for reminding us of the Lord’s thirst for our love . . . and for teaching us how we are to respond to it by a life of prayer, in the sacraments, and cheerful service to the least of the Lord’s brethren.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from this event have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.

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