A group of diocesan priests in India have pledged to take Mother Teresa of Calcutta as a model and source of their inspiration and life. 113 members of the Conference of Diocesan Priests of India (CDPI) from 67 dioceses voiced their desire when they recently met in the eastern metropolis of Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, together with several bishops, including local Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Calcutta. The theme was "The life and mission of Mother Teresa reflected in the life and mission of the diocesan priests".
"I think the effect of this will last for years in the hearts and minds of diocesan priests of India," Fr. Raymond Joseph Irudhayasamy, CDPI Executive Secretary told Fides. The priests made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Mother Teresa praying and celebrating the Eucharist on her grave, and were "deeply touched by her burning desire to love only Christ" and to make the Eucharist "the pivot of her life". "Mother Teresa bent down to serve the Jesus she saw in the poorest of the poor, the terminally ill or incurable. She teaches us with her life that holiness is not a luxury for some, but a pastoral priority for every diocesan priest", Fr. Irudhayasamy said.
Bishop Salvatore Lobo of Baruipur, spoke to the assembly about "total surrender to Jesus, to love Jesus alone, to give to Jesus and live only for Jesus", urging priests to "be the face of Christ on earth". Mother Teresa of Calcutta, he said, was "an exemplary model of silence, deep friendship with Jesus and evangelization through her life".
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Conference of diocesan priests issued a statement pledging their commitment to emulate Mother Teresa. "We, diocesan priests, appreciating our divine gift of priesthood,” they wrote, “will strive to assimilate the values lived by Mother Teresa, particularly her spirit of universality that pushed her toward all who suffer, regardless of creed, caste or country.” “We will do our best to serve those who are marginalized economically and spiritually in our parishes, beyond the borders of our faith community,” the priests pledged. “We have decided to celebrate the Eucharist remembering the maternal advice of Mother Teresa: celebrate this Mass, as if it were your first Mass, as if it were your last Mass, and as if it were the only one.” We pledge to respect the human dignity of each individual with whom we come into contact and to carry out our priestly ministry with the greatest love, so that if becomes a source of inspiration for all,” the diocesan priests stated.
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu of Albanian parents on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, in what is Macedonia today, Mother Teresa came to eastern India’s Kolkata city in 1929, as a Loreto nun. Later, in what she described as a call within a call, she founded her Missionaries of Charity congregation in 1950. She obtained Indian citizenship the following year. Mother Teresa earned 124 national as well as international honours for her works of mercy, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She died on September 5, 1997 at the age of 87 and St. John Paul II declared her Blessed in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican, on October 19, 2003. Pope Francis officially proclaimed her a saint of the Catholic Church on September 4, 2016 in the Vatican. (Source: Fides)