MUMBAI, India – The Missionaries of Charity are marking the 25th anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa by searching out “the poorest of the poor on the streets, in the stations…wherever they are alone and abandoned.”
Mother Teresa died on Sept. 5, 1997, at the age of 87, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II just 6 years later. She was canonized by Pope Francis in 2016.
The Albanian nun served the “poorest of the poor” in the slums of Calcutta, India, for decades and founded the Missionaries of Charity religious order.
Sister Mary Joseph, the current Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, sent out a message marking the anniversary.
“Here in Calcutta we have two communities each made up of four sisters who go around the streets every day with packed food, clothes, to meet the poor where they are. Those who are very sick are taken to our homes to be cared for in their basic needs, such as being able to take a bath, have a change of clothes, a good meal or — if necessary – hospitalization,” she said.
“On Park Street, in one of our communities, we are opening a space for children who live on the street without being able to go to school. We will offer them a bath, change of clothes, a glass of milk, cookies, and teach them to draw and write,” the religious superior continued.
“In Calcutta we have homes for the abandoned men and women we have picked up from the streets. Our homes are overflowing right now. We are looking for ways to rehabilitate these people. With the help of social workers we are trying to track down their families and reunite them if they accept it. In our homes we take care of children and adults with physical and mental problems. In many of our homes we have patients suffering from leprosy and tuberculosis who continue to be abandoned by their families because of this,” Sister Mary Joseph said.
“The poor are always in our midst to love and serve them, different political situations have never affected this work of ours,” she added.
In his homily on Monday marking the feast of St. Teresa of Calcutta, Archbishop Thomas D’Souza spoke about the saint’s spirituality.
“St. Teresa’s spirituality had three pillars: first, encounter with Jesus Christ in prayer, in the Eucharist in particular, and in the least and the lost. The One she met in prayer, in the Eucharist and the sacraments of Reconciliation she met and served Him in the poor. Prayer, Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation and mercy – were an integral part of Mother’s spirituality from which everything else flowed,” the Calcutta archbishop said.
“The second pillar was Mother’s love for Mary, and for the Immaculate Heart of Mary in particular. Mary’s pure heart and her docility to the will of God always remained a powerful inspiration to remain faithful to the mission of charity and service,” he continued.
“The third pillar was free and whole-hearted loving service to the poorest of the poor. From the time Mother heard the voice of Jesus on her way to Darjeeling on 10th September 1946, ‘Come, be my light,’ until her death on Sept. 5, 1997, Mother Teresa remained faithful to this mission not considering any sacrifice too great to satiate the thirst of Jesus on the cross, by being at the service of the poorest of the poor all over the world. A spark of love has now become a flame of charity everywhere!” D’Souza said.
“The spirituality of St. Teresa of Calcutta is beautifully summarised in the words of Mother herself: ‘The fruit of silence is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service; the fruit of service is peace’,” the archbishop added.
In her message marking the anniversary, Sister Mary Joseph spoke about how the mission of Mother Teresa continues around the world.
“Whether in India or abroad, our sisters regularly visit families, especially the elderly and shut-ins, those in prisons and hospitals, the most abandoned and lonely, bringing new hope to their lives. Immediate emergency aid to victims of various natural disasters has always been our priority,” she said.
“Outside India, too, we have homes where we care, both materially and spiritually, for the poorest of the poor, those most rejected by society, those living on the streets, alcoholics… Night shelters and soup kitchens are open for those most in need, alongside the night apostolate in which sisters bring food rations to those who would end their day hungry,” the message continued.
“Mother Teresa often reminded us that ‘we cannot do great things, but only small things with great love.’ Please pray for us that we will carry on this legacy of the beloved Mother and Foundress: to do all the good we can out of love for God and our brothers and sisters, without looking at caste or creed, wholeheartedly offering them our free service,” Sister Mary Joseph concluded.