Children who participated in the Mass of Thanksgiving for the canonization of St. Teresa of Kolkata at St. Mark Church in Richmond gather around Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ after Mass. With them are Deacon Matthew Murray, to the left of the bishop, and Rev. Ramiro Flores, parochial administrator of the Richmond parish, to the right.
ALL: Michele Jurich/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Parish celebrates St. Teresa's canonization
St. Teresa of Kolkata
When: Oct. 2-9
Relics: Chapels, Cathedral of Christ the Light
Exhibit: Hall of Honor,
below the cathedral
Missionaries of Mercy will be in the Cathedral and Hall,
10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Where: 2121 Harrison St., Oakland
Mass of Thanksgiving:
10 a.m. Oct. 9 in the cathedral
Each pew at St. Mark Church in Richmond was decorated with a rosette of blue and white tulle, with a ribbon featuring a familiar blue-and-white stripe.
The four Missionaries of Charity Sisters who serve in the parish and surrounding community bustled about the church, hall and gym, putting the finishing touches on the celebration of the Mass of Thanksgiving on the day, Sept. 4, that Pope Francis canonized St. Teresa of Kolkata.
Before Mass, a documentary played on a screen set up beside the altar, with scenes from interviews with the tiny woman, who ministered to the poorest of the poor in India, and encouraged the world to do small things with great love.
The parish's children, dressed in white, with most wearing little handmade blue capes, led the flower-filled procession to the altar, followed by the Sisters, who carried a relic of the saint who will always be their Mother Teresa.
"A relic is a piece of her," said Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ. "It's like really having Mother Teresa present in our church."
Even more, he said, having the Sisters in the parish and diocese is like having her present. "Our diocese is blessed," he said.
In his homily, the bishop noted that St. Teresa's first vocation was to be a Sister of Loreto, and to be a teacher.
"She did that for decades," he said.
"She discerned that was what God wanted her to do with her life, until one day when she was riding on a train," he said.
In the silence of that ride, he said, "she felt the inspiration of God in her to take care of the poor. She felt an overwhelming inspiration in her heart to bring Jesus' love to the poor, the poor she saw on the streets begging, begging, begging everywhere, some of them dying."
To determine the authenticity of that inspiration, she asked those in authority, he said, including her superior and the bishop.
They confirmed her call.
"Easier said than done," said the bishop. "She sets out on her own. She has no money. She just knows God wants her to take care of the poor. To me, the most impressive thing was that. Leaving everything you know behind, not knowing the future behind. She trusted."
He encouraged the gathering to listen for that call in their lives.
"We each have our call and our destiny. If we obey God, He will make it possible," the bishop said. "We just have to trust."
At the conclusion of a bilingual Mass, Bishop Barber blessed the congregation with the relic, before the procession led him out of the church and on to the waiting party, with dancers, tables laden with tamales and fellowship.
The Missionaries of Charity – the order St. Teresa founded – who serve in Richmond are joined at Mass by Menbere Aklilu, who met Mother Teresa three times, and by sisters from the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel, who serve at St. Joseph Parish in Pinole.
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