KOLKATA: The Missionaries of Charity (MC), prompted by pandemic safety norms, has cancelled public celebrations of Saint Teresa of Kolkata’s 110th birth anniversary on Wednesday at Mother House, the order’s headquarters.
This is the first time the celebrations — a major event, even when Mother was alive — are being moved out of the iconic address on AJC Bose Road. Instead, the Catholic Association of Bengal will organize a mass at St Thomas’ Church in honour of the saint in the afternoon, which one can join in online. Later in the evening, the president of the Catholic Church in India, Ca-rdinal Oswald Gracias, will organise a mass in Mumbai.
“Cardinal Gracias will conduct holy mass in Mumbai at 7.30pm. The programme, organised by the Archdiocese of Kolkata, will be live-streamed. There will be no mass for people to attend at Mother House in Kolkata because of Covid-19 restrictions,” said an MC official.
“It is a special and unique occasion for all of us and we are proud that the archdiocese of Kolkata has partnered such a programme to start Mother Teresa’s 110th birth anniversary celebrations,” said Dominic Gomes, the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Kolkata.
In Kolkata, the mass at St Thomas Church, where Mother was laid to rest, will be attended by a handful. Arrangements have been made for the general public to participate online around 4pm. Also, a floral tribute will be paid at the saint’s statue at Allen Park on Park Street (formally Mother Teresa Sarani).
Usually, the chapel at Mother House is packed with schoolchildren, visitors and residents and wears a festive look on August 26. This year, the day will be spent in thanksgiving and silent prayers. Around 30 people will attend the mass at St Thomas. “I am blessed and honoured to be able to organize the holy mass at St Thomas Church. She is the Catholic Association of Bengal’s patron saint,” said Angelina Mantosh Jasnani, the association’s president.
Fr Moloy DeCosta, Dean of Kolkata, Archdiocese of Calcutta, will celebrate the thanksgiving mass with archdiocese priests Father Devraj Fernandes, Father Rodney Borneo, Father Michael Biswas and Father Orsan Wells. Archbishop of Kolkata, Thomas D’Souza, whose birthday coincides with Mother’s, will join in from his residence, as he has been unwell for sometime. “The Covid situation has put a lot of restrictions on us and has yet opened doors for many. Such online celebrations enable all Mother Teresa followers from the world over to join in,” the vicar general said.
“Mother was a person of contemplative silence. Her 110th birthday gives us an opportunity to take a page out of her life, learn to strengthen ourselves through silent prayers,” Father Borneo said. Father Devraj added, “Even if people can’t throng to Mother House, she will be in their hearts.”
MC will also not organise Mother’s feast day (on September 5). This, too, will be organized by the Catholic Association of Bengal outside Mother House.