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Teresa of Calcutta, Sydney Celebrates the Making of a Saint for the Poor

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
5 Sep 2016

Hundreds gathered in Sydney at the same time that one hundred thousand gathered in Rome yesterday to witness the canonisation of Mother Teresa of Calcutta by Pope Francis in St Peter's Square.

Many more joined online from around Australia to watch the ceremony in Rome, webcast on xt3.com.

Missionaries of Charity sisters along with the faithful who had gathered in the Cathedral Hall after Mass to watch the webcast applauded when Pope Francis officially declared Mother Teresa a saint with the words, "we declare and define Blessed Teresa Calcutta be a saint and we enrol her among the saints".

The celebrations in Sydney began with a Mass celebrated at St Mary's Cathedral by Archbishop Anthony Fisher, Archbishop of Sydney, accompanied by his three auxiliary bishops, Most Rev Terry Brady, and the recently ordained Most Rev Tony Randazzo and Most Rev Richard Umbers.

Archbishop Fisher welcomed Sr Maria Lucy, Regional Superior of the Missionaries of Charity here in Australia, who worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta for five years and was at her side when she died. With her he welcomed around 25 members of the congregation Mother Teresa founded, from Surry Hills in Sydney but also from Wagga Wagga, Orange and Queanbeyan. Many chaplains, friends and co-workers of the Missionaries of Charity were also present for the celebrations.

Along with dignitaries such as Dame Marie Bashir, former Governor of New South Wales, the Archbishop welcomed "above all the poor and sick, the suffering and dying, who are the sisters' special friends and the Church's most distinguished guests at tonight's celebration of Mother and every day".

In his homily, Archbishop Fisher explained Mother Teresa's relationship with Australia noting she visited Australia repeatedly and "left her in footprint on this land through the 14 Mission Houses of her sisters here, including their Pacific mother-house in Surry Hills".

"The first Mission House she founded in our region was in Bourke NSW, with the specific mission to help the Aborigines and the Outback's poorest, sickest and most dispossessed" said Archbishop Fisher.

"Teresa's life might be said to be a parable, a story that shows what it means to love with that cross-shaped love that points upwards to God and outwards to our neighbours, the first, vertical pole of love holding up the second. For Mother that cross-shaped love was expressed for the poor and from amongst the poor."

Reports of the Church's proclamation of Mother Teresa's sainthood have recalled some of her critics, amongst them those who decried her as a fanatic and a fraud who loved her Catholic agenda more than she loved the poor.

Archbishop Fisher addressed some of these criticisms.

"Some of her more cynical critics have complained that poverty was not hard for her, as she had grown up with little, and that she had her benefactors and could rub shoulders with the mighty when she wanted. We might be tempted to respond defensively to such pusillanimous ingrates on behalf of Mother Teresa, but she would have none of that.
"Instead we might reflect on how behind her joyful smile there was a deep pain and this was her true dispossession, her truest personal poverty. In recent years we've learnt that this saintly woman endured a long 'dark night of the soul', in which she felt separated from God, even rejected by Him, even as she experienced an ever-growing longing for His love."

At the conclusion of the Mass Archbishop Fisher walked through the congregation with a relic of Saint Teresa, blessing people with it.

Following the Mass at the celebrations in the Cathedral Hall, hundreds gathered to watch the webcast and many viewed an exhibition of St Teresa's life on display in the Crypt of St Mary's Cathedral. The exhibition will continue until Monday 12 September.

At the ceremony in Rome, Pope Francis made room for 1,500 homeless people in seats of honour and afterwards invited them to a pizza lunch. In his homily, Pope Francis pointed to Saint Teresa as a model of holiness for our time and hailed her as a "tireless worker of mercy".

Read the full homily of Archbishop Fisher here.