Palma: Be like St. Teresa
In a world where millions remain poor and hungry, devotion is good but insufficient.
With this in mind, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma on Wednesday urged Cebuanos to perpetuate the mission of St. Teresa of Kolkata (Calcutta), not just through words but also by concrete actions.
The 66-year-old prelate officiated the Thanksgiving Mass held on Wednesday at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in downtown Cebu City, four days after the well-loved nun, known worldwide as Mother Teresa, joined the ranks of Catholic saints in rites held at the Vatican City in Rome, Italy, and televised around the world.
“We thank God for the gift of Mother Teresa. She truly was an expression of God’s mercy for the world. She touched our lives, and we praise God for giving us such a wonderful saint,” said Palma in his homily.
“Her vocation was to respond to the thirst of Jesus while hanging on the cross. She did it by serving the poorest of the poor. I hope we too do likewise and make Mother Teresa’s vocation our own,” the archbishop added.
Because Jesus is found in every person, especially the poor and the marginalized, Palma said one should do his or her share to alleviate human suffering.
“There are so many poor people — a number of them are dying. But as Mother Teresa said, ‘We are not here to do great things but to do small things with great love.’ A simple good deed, therefore, is significant. Let us become saints by loving God and neighbor especially those in the peripheries,” he said.
With the chants of the San Carlos Seminary College Special Choir filling the hallowed halls of Cathedral, about 400 devotees attended the liturgy that capped the local celebrations for the canonization of St. Teresa of Kolkata.
Concelebrating with Palma were Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Florencio, retired Bishop Antonio Rañola and about 15 priests — all clad in while liturgical vestment with yellow trimmings.
Also present were nuns of the Missionaries of Charity — the congregation founded by St. Teresa.
‘It’s our life’
In an interview, the congregation’s mother superior in Cebu said St. Teresa of Kolkata visited Gasa sa Gugma–Home for the Dying Destitutes in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City, at least three times in the 1980s.
She said St. Teresa of Kolkata continues to guide the sisters in caring for the poorest of the poor, which the saint zealously performed when she was alive.
“The work continues. We are trying our best to keep up with what Mother Teresa said is God’s work. We try our best to follow what she taught us,” said the soft-spoken mother superior, who requested anonymity as part of their protocol.
Asked what drew them to the poor, she said, “It’s our life.”
“It’s Jesus who we see in them. That is where Jesus is. Maybe when God called us to this congregation, He has given us a share in the mission. And it inspires us,” she said.
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on Aug. 26, 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia, Mother Teresa joined the Loreto order of nuns in 1928. She took the name Teresa after St. Therese of Liseux.
In 1946, while traveling by train from Calcutta to Darjeeling, she was inspired to found the Missionaries of Charity.
Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 in recognition of her work in bringing help to the suffering humanity. She refused the traditional Nobel honor banquet and instead requested that the $192,000 budget be given to help the poor of India.
She died from cardiac arrest in Calcutta at age 87. At the time of her death, there were 3,914 sisters serving in 594 missions in 123 countries.
St. Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa in 2003.
Her canonization last Sunday was among the highlights of the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis.
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