Note: On 19th August 2016, at 3.30 pm, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta and Missionaries of Charity invited members of the media to a Press Conference at the Archbishop's House in Calcutta to announce the Canonisation of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta on 4th September 2016 in Rome and a Calendar of Events to celebrate the Great Event.
The highpoint of the programmes would be a Thanksgiving Holy Eucharist followed by a Civic Programme on 2nd October, 2016 at Netaji Indoor Stadium, Kolkata, from 3 to 7p.m. Dignitaries from across the country including religious leaders such as Cardinals, Bishops etc, as well as ordinary people from all walks of life, would attend the programme. The Chief Guest for the Civic Programme is Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri M. Hamid Ansari and the Guest of Honour is Hon’ble Governor of West Bengal, Shri K.N. Tripathi.
The other main event is the “Homage to St. Teresa of Calcutta” organised by the Government of West Bengal on 4th November, 2016, at Shanti Dan, Tangra, Kolkata. Bengal Chief Minister, Hon’ble Ms. Mamata Banerjee, would be the Chief Guest for this programme.
During this Press Conference Sr Lysa, Assistant Superior General, spoke on behalf of the Missionaries of Charity. CCV's Isaac Gomes met Sr Lysa and immediately requested her to give a transcript of her speech. She said that she had scribbled some points on the manuscript and therefore it was not legible. One week later Isaac went to Mother's House and requested her for a copy of her speech. She again tried to evade and said she might have destroyed it. Then she had a change of heart, went inside and handed him a copy of her wonderful speech. This is reproduced below :
Friday 19th August 2016
The Canonisation of our beloved Mother is a time of great joy and great blessing to the world, to our country and, in a special way, to the city of Calcutta which was her home. It also brings great blessings to the entire Missionaries of Charity family.
Mother was God's Gift, not only to the Missionaries of Charity as our Foundress and Spiritual Guide, but also to the whole world without any distinction of caste, creed or religion. The Church recognised her holiness and heroic virtues and presents her as a model and intercessor with God. Mother said, "Holiness is not the luxury of the few, but a simple duty for all."
Mother was a great gift to the city of Calcutta where her charism found its root and could develop with the help of many generous people. She said that "the giving need not be confined merely to money or material gifts" but desired that people "give their hands to serve and their hearts to love". Mother challenged us to recognise the poor in our own homes, towns and countries and to reach out to them in love and compassion, giving where it is most needed. By this love in action, the poor are acknowledged and raised up as beloved children of God, precious in His eyes.
Mother was a great gift to India, which welcomed her as a citizen, helped her, supported her and encouraged her work among the poorest of the poor. India honoured her with the Bharat Ratna, the Padmashree, other awards and a State Funeral.
Mother was a carrier of God's tender love and compassion. She said the world is hungry not only for food but for love; thirsty not ony for water but for justice, love and peace; naked not ony for clothes but for dignity of life; homeless not only for shelter made of bricks but for a heart that loves and understands. She believed firmly in Jesus' words, "Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me." Why is there a lack of peace? Mother would answer that it because we forget that we belong to each other. Works of love are works of peace. She reminded us "Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not yet come, we have only today to love. So let us begin today."
May the sainthood of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta stir up in us a new love and enthusiasm to follow in her footsteps and to imitate her virtues of love, peace, joy, kindness and compassion. May her spirit, work, and messge be imprinted in our hearts and may her legacy and testimony of life give light to the world of today.
We are very grateful to His Grace Archbishop Thomas D'Souza, the Catholic Association of Bengal and all the organising committees who are preparing for the thanksgiving celebrations to make them all something beautiful for God.