July 23, 2010

Memorial Mass for Blessed Teresa includes veneration of relics

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s rosary and the crucifix she wore at her waist as well as her well-worn sandals were displayed during the memorial Mass on July 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral. (Photo by Mary Ann Wyand)

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s rosary and the crucifix she wore at her waist as well as her well-worn sandals were displayed during the memorial Mass on July 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral. (Photo by Mary Ann Wyand)

By Mary Ann Wyand

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s humble and holy life of service to God and the poorest of his people was remembered and celebrated during a memorial Mass on July 14 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

Before and after the liturgy, two first-class relics of Blessed Teresa—bits of her hair and blood—were displayed for veneration.

Several hundred Catholics from parishes in central Indiana also gazed in awe at two second-class relics—her rosary and crucifix—as well as her well-worn leather sandals.

Beside her framed rosary and crucifix were note cards explaining that Mother Teresa had prayed with the rosary beads until the time of her death, and had worn the crucifix at her waist from age 20 as a newly professed Sister of Loreto until her death at age 87 on Sept. 5, 1997, in Calcutta. (See a photo gallery from this event)

The relics were brought to Indianapolis for one day only by the Missionaries of Charity as mementos of the foundress of the international religious order of sisters, priests and brothers dedicated to serving destitute and dying people in the slums of Calcutta, India, and in 123 other countries throughout the world.

The Missionaries of Charity, now led by Sister Prema, the superior general in Calcutta, opened a convent for their sisters in 2000 in Indianapolis and also operate a shelter for families in crisis at 2424 E. 10th St. in Indianapolis.

Msgr. Frederick Easton, judicial vicar of the archdiocese, was the principal celebrant for the Mass on behalf of Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, who knew Mother Teresa.

At the time of the memorial Mass, Archbishop Buechlein was preparing for the episcopal ordination and installation of Bishop-designate Timothy L. Doherty on July 15 as the new spiritual leader of the Diocese of Lafayette.

“Let us with great joy give thanks to God for Blessed Mother Teresa,” Msgr. Easton said in his homily, “and the example that she has set, especially for her religious community, … and indeed for all the world.

“The Holy Father [Pope John Paul II] declared that she is blessed [on Oct. 19, 2003] because of a miracle which confirms the earlier favorable judgment about her reputation for holiness,” he said. “We pray as well that the Holy Father [Pope Benedict XVI] in due time will be able to promote her to the growing number of those who are regarded … as saints.”

Blessed Teresa and all the holy men and women who have been beatified or canonized would not want the faithful to lose sight of why the Church has honored them, Msgr. Easton explained. “They serve as examples to us that total fidelity to our call to follow Christ in our own time and in our own personal situation truly is possible.”

These heroes in the faith remind us that we also can live out the Beatitudes, Msgr. Easton said, by living a life of true charity.

Father Robert Robeson, rector of the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, and Father Rick Nagel, the archdiocesan director of young adult and college campus ministry, concelebrated the Mass.

The prayers of the faithful included a petition for the Missionaries of Charity, who “continue to satiate the thirst of Jesus in the poor, the unwanted [and] the unloved,” as well as the lay volunteers who help the religious order do God’s work for the poor.

Prayers were also offered for “respect for all human life from conception to natural death,” and for the poor, that they may be “consoled, strengthened and helped through Jesus and Mary.”

Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishioner Lynne Neiers of Carmel, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese, said she considers Blessed Teresa to be her “spiritual mother” because she is “such an inspiration.”

Neiers sat in the first row of chairs at the cathedral near the relics, and stayed after the Mass to pray for a friend who is battling cancer as well as a friend who suffers from spiritual darkness and has fallen away from the Catholic faith.

Lynne O’Brien, who attends Mass at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Franklin and Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis, said after the liturgy that she was “very touched by this beautiful opportunity” to venerate Blessed Teresa’s relics.

“It’s a gift and a treasure to celebrate the Eucharist in the presence of her relics,” O’Brien said. “My first reaction when I saw her worn sandals was to remember how unworthy I would be to even loosen them.”

Her daughter, Rosemary, a 14-year-old home-schooled student, said “it was just amazing to be able to put my rosary on top of her rosary and think about her life of holiness.”

Holy Spirit parishioner Liz Hodges of Indianapolis, a lay member of the Missionaries of Charity and 10-year volunteer at their shelter, said the opportunity to pray in the presence of Blessed Teresa’s relics is “such a blessing, and it’s an honor to be here with the sisters.” †

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