Mother Teresa to be Canonized in Jubilee Year
Huge news out of Rome today: The Holy Father approved the miracle for Mother Teresa's canonization on Dec. 17, his birthday.
Pope Francis knew Mother Teresa personally. Back when he was Bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he sat near her at the 1994 Synod of Bishops on "The Consecrated Life and Its Role in the Church and in the World."
A Model for the Marian Fathers
"We're very excited," said Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, director of the Association of Marian Helpers. "Her life and example are something that our Congregation tries to emulate. She fits in so beautifully to our [the Marian Fathers'] call to apostolic works of mercy. In our Marian Press title 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, she's one of the four saints he focuses on. So through her love of Mary and her connection to our modern world today, she brings mercy to those souls in most need."
Perhaps the most profound part of her prospective canonization, said Fr. Chris, is the way in which it proves that holiness is possible and matters in our own times.
"Many people have grown up believing that saints are only something of the past," he explained. "In other words, we grew up as children believing that saints were medieval. They lived centuries ago and no longer apply today. She's a beautiful recent example, along with St. John Paul II, of saints in our times, and therefore a model for all of us today. Mother Teresa is a manifestation of God's mercy in today's world."
MICs and MCs
The Missionaries of Charity (MCs), the order founded by Mother Teresa, follow in their foundress' footsteps and continue to manifest God's mercy, both through their devotion to the works of mercy and their commitment to the message and devotion of Divine Mercy. Shortly before her death in 1997, Mother Teresa began to learn more about then-Blessed Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938) and the message of Divine Mercy. Nine days after her death, several Missionaries of Charity began "spontaneously" praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet at her tomb in their mother house in Calcutta.
"Mother must have had a big hand in it since it started at her tomb," Sr. Nirmala Joshi, Mother Teresa's successor, said in a 1997 interview with Marian Helper magazine. "She did not know the Chaplet. Her main devotion was the Rosary. But her life was Divine Mercy."
In that interview, Sr. Nirmala went on to say that her mentor was behind an "explosion" of mercy in the Missionaries of Charity. Soon, the Divine Mercy Chaplet became an optional prayer for the congregation.
The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception (MICs), promoters of the authentic Divine Mercy message and devotion as given through St. Faustina Kowalska, have collaborated with the Missionaries of Charity, including providing Divine Mercy materials to all the members of the order in 1997, among other initiatives.
A Life Seeing Jesus in the Poor
Born in 1910 in what is now Macedonia, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu joined the Loretto Sisters when she was 18. She felt such a strong call to missionary work that she took the religious name "Teresa" after St. Therese of Lisieux, the Patroness of Missions. A year later, she was sent to India where she served as a much-loved teacher and headmistress.
Then, in 1946, while riding a train to the mountain town of Darjeeling in India to recover from tuberculosis, she received a calling from God to serve Him among the poorest of the poor. Four years later, she founded the Missionaries of Charity. What began as a congregation with 12 members has grown to more than 4,000 nuns running orphanages, AIDS hospices, and other charity centers worldwide.
It wasn't long before the Church — and indeed, the world — began to recognize that Mother Teresa was breaking new ground in serving Christ in the poorest of the poor. In 1962, she won a prestigious prize in India for her humanitarian work. Then, in 1979, she won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Mother Teresa became a model of how to follow Christ. In his tribute to Mother Teresa, two days after her death, Pope John Paul II described how her call to serve came from her love of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. "Her mission began every day, before dawn, in the presence of the Eucharist," he said during his Sunday Angelus. "In the silence of contemplation, Mother Teresa of Calcutta heard the echo of Jesus' cry on the Cross: 'I thirst.' This cry, received in the depths of her heart, spurred her to seek out Jesus in the poor."
Mother Teresa also was regarded as one of the greatest defenders of life in the womb. She took world leaders to task for their legalization of abortion.
Mother Teresa died in 1997 and was beatified in 2003.
Canonization Date to be Announced
The date for the canonization will be set at an upcoming consistory, or meeting at which the Holy Father is advised by the cardinals on matters such as the canonization of saints. However, Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian conference of Catholic bishops, is reporting that the canonization will probably be scheduled for Sept. 4, 2016, the day before Mother Teresa's feast day in the Jubilee Year of Mercy and the conclusion of the particular Jubilee, celebrated in Rome, for workers and volunteers of mercy.