Thousands of pilgrims may have flocked to Rome for the official canonization ceremony of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, but that didn’t stop Catholics across the Diocese of Phoenix from celebrating the world’s newest saint with their own series of colorful, local celebrations.
The diminutive nun who captured the world’s heart with her humble service to the poor was honored with a Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration, special Masses at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral and St. Mary Parish in Chandler and a concert in Tempe.
EN ESPAÑOL: Eventos diocesanos celebran a Santa Teresa
The Holy Hour at Our Lady of Fatima Mission in South Phoenix the night before the canonization drew Martha Martinez for her weekly Adoration time. Blinking back tears, she spoke of the blessing it was to pray with the Missionaries of Charity and the fervor with which St. Teresa of Calcutta encouraged Eucharistic Adoration.
“What she wanted to bring to all of us was to spend one hour with Our Lord,” Martinez said. “It’s the most precious hour on this earth. To me, there is no better time to pray and thank Him.”
Exhibit on life of Mother Teresa
Sept. 17-25 at Our Lady of Fatima Mission in Phoenix
Maria Mejia, a parishioner at St. John Vianney in Goodyear, sat near the four Missionaries of Charity during the Holy Hour. She said she volunteers at their summer camp during the summer and has a close relationship with them.
“To able to be by their side at this very special moment of theirs, that Mother is going to be canonized as a saint, there is just so much joy and being able to pray for her intercession is also a blessing,” Mejia said.
Sr. Danette, one of the Missionaries of Charity, was a novice in India when she lived with the saint she described as “very wise.” The canonization, she said, was a big day, not only for me and the Missionaries of Charity, but for the whole world.”
In his Sunday morning homily at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted pointed to the newly minted saint’s motherly heart and profound love of Jesus Christ. When God called her to care for the poor and destitute, she forgot about herself and “loved like a mother loves,” he said. “Christ knew the world needed a mother, who was on fire with love for God and for whomever He gave her to love, especially the poorest of the poor.”
She was anything but timid. When she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she stunned many with her speech in Oslo when she decried abortion as “the greatest destroyer of peace.” Her words, Bishop Olmsted said, were spoken with “bold sincerity,” unafraid of “what the mighty and powerful might think of her” and focused instead on what might happen to the voiceless.
What mattered most in the life of St. Teresa of Calcutta was Christ, he said. “Jesus was the reason she got up early in the morning and stayed awake late into the night,” the bishop declared. “Jesus is the reason she saw His face in the poorest of the poor in the most filthy and dangerous of places.”
Later in the day, musicians and music directors from throughout the diocese and beyond gathered at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish to sing songs inspired by the life of St. Teresa of Calcutta.
“I invited a few musicians to join me and everyone said yes,” quipped well-known Catholic composer and musician Tom Booth, who met Mother Teresa when she visited Phoenix in 1989. More than 30 musicians performed in the two-hour concert, culminating with Booth leading the standing-room only crowd in his “Something Beautiful for God” hymn inspired by the saint.
“I was really impressed by Tom Booth because he’s bringing forth all these other musicians in humility and charity,” said Sr. Anthony Mary Diago, RSM, director of the Office of Consecrated Life. “It was so inspiring to see how Mother Teresa inspired them and how their lives are an inspiration to others because they share their faith, they pray together as a family and they sing together as a family,” Sr. Anthony Mary noted.