Local Catholics celebrate Mother Teresa’s canonization

By Joyce Duriga
Sunday, September 18, 2016

Local Catholics celebrate Mother Teresa’s canonization

Missionary of Charity Sister Jesula prays with other sisters during a Mass with more than 1,300 people in honor of the canonization of Mother Teresa at St. John Cantius Parish, 825 N. Carpenter St., on Sept. 4. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
John, John (9), and Cecile Brehm pray during the Mass. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Anthony McElroy prays along with the Missionaries of Charity sisters. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Asuntha Mary venerates a relic of St. Mother Teresa following Mass on Sept 4. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Bishop Joseph Perry accepts the gifts from Missionary of Charity sisters during a Mass on Sept. 5 celebrating the feast of St. Teresa of Kolkata at St. Malachy Church, 2248 W. Washington Blvd. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Worshippers stop after Mass to take pictures of a portrait of Mother Teresa. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)

Hours after Pope Francis canonized Mother Teresa of Kolkata in Rome, more than 1,300 people filled St. John Cantius Church, 825 N. Carpenter St., Sept. 4 to celebrate the church’s newest saint. At the end of Mass they venerated two relics of Mother Teresa. It was the first of two celebrations honoring the saint.

The Missionaries of Charity serving in Chicago, which includes seven active sisters, six contemplative sisters and four aspirants, sat at the front of the church for Mass. Some of the aspirants joined the choir. 

Mother Teresa visited Chicago several times in her life and established a convent here in 1983.

About 200 people also joined the Missionaries of Charity for a morning Mass at St. Malachy Church, 2248 W. Washington Blvd., on Sept. 5, Mother Teresa’s feast day and the 19th anniversary of her death. The sisters operate a soup kitchen at St. Malachy and Mother Teresa visited the church several times when she came to Chicago – even acting as a godmother to one of their parishioners.

Born in 1910 to an ethnic Albanian family in Skopje, in what is now part of Macedonia, Mother Teresa went to India in 1929 as a Sister of Loreto and became an Indian citizen in 1947. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950. Her influence is worldwide. The order has more than 5,300 active and contemplative sisters today. In addition, there are Missionaries of Charity Fathers, and active and contemplative brothers. In 1969, in response to growing interest of laypeople who wanted to be associated with her work, an informally structured, ecumenical International Association of Co-Workers of Mother Teresa was formed.

The members of the congregation take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but the vow of poverty is stricter than in other congregations because, as Mother Teresa explained, "to be able to love the poor and know the poor, we must be poor ourselves." In addition, the Missionaries of Charity -- sisters and brothers -- take a fourth vow of "wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor."

In Chicago, the convent for the contemplative sisters is located at St. Precopius Church at 1629 S. Alport while the active sisters have their convent and home for single mothers at 2325 W. 24th Place.

During his homily on Sept. 4, Auxiliary Bishop John Manz lifted up Mother Teresa as a saint of mercy. While she wasn’t a beautiful woman by society’s standards, he said, her true inner beauty radiated out through her actions.

Citing the Jubilee of Mercy, the bishop said like Mother Teresa, each of us has our own vocation to mercy. “There’s so much need,” he said, adding that we can begin in our families and in our workplaces.

“Like Mother Teresa we are all called to see the presence of God in those who are in need.”

Mother Teresa followed God’s greatest commandments – to love him with her whole mind, heart and soul, and to love her neighbor as herself, Missionary of Charity Sister Jesula told the congregation at the end of Mass. Sister Jesula is mother superior to the Missionaries of Charity in Chicago.

“Remember everything is about Jesus and what Jesus has done through Mother Teresa. The same thing Jesus did through Mother Teresa he can do it in us too,” Sister Jesula said.

“This is an opportunity to see the saints in our modern age, gives our family hope and puts us in touch with heaven,” said Bob Hogan who attended the Mass with his wife Jenny and their young son.

Irena Gavaghan, a parishioner at St. Michael Parish in Orland Park, attended Mother Teresa’s beatification in Rome in 2003 with St. John Paul II. A family wedding prevented her from attending the canonization in Rome so she was determined to come to the Mass at St. John Cantius.

She feels close to Mother Teresa because she was close to St. John Paul II, whom Gavaghan, as a native Pole, has a devotion to.

“She can teach us that no matter where you live you can reach out to people,” she said.

While she can’t do big works of mercy like Mother Teresa, the saint inspires Gavaghan to do small ones where she is. As a massage therapist, she often offers free therapy to those with disabilities or illness.

“You can reach out and help anywhere all over the world. They don’t have to know you and you don’t have to touch them but through Jesus and God you can help,” Gavaghan said.

Archbishop Cupich will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving for the canonization of Mother Teresa at Holy Name Cathedral on Sept. 25, at 12:30 p.m.


  • cardinal cupich
  • pope francis
  • mother teresa
  • rome

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