KOLKATA: Owing to the pandemic, the city observed a quiet birth anniversary of Mother Teresa on Wednesday, with just 20 people congregating at St Thomas’ Church on Middleton Row, away from Mother House — the global headquarters of Missionaries of Charity on AJC Bose Road — following social distancing norms.
This was the first time that the function took place outside the headquarters, which has Mother Teresa’s tomb. The Catholic Association of Bengal (CAB), of which Mother was a patron saint, celebrated her 110th birth anniversary at a thanksgiving mass at the church.
Till last year, the chapel at Mother House used to be packed on August 26. But on Wednesday, entry of visitors was restricted. Only nuns of the order were present at the prayer. Vicar general of the archdiocese of Kolkata Fr Dominic Gomes was a special invitee at the special mass held at 5.30am. “One woman, one mission: that’s all it took to change this world! Mother Teresa captivated the whole world,” he said at the morning mass attended by mother general Sister Prema.
At Shantidan, the home for abandoned children in Tangra, celebrations were just as muted. “We have been celebrating Mother Teresa’s birthday for many years. On this day, a cultural programme is organized where dance and musical performances take place for the residents of Shantidan. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic this year; no cultural programme is possible but food packets were distributed among the residents,” said Rotarian Tamal Mukherjee on behalf of the Rotary Club of South Calcutta.
At 7.30am, an online mass was read by cardinal Oswald Gracias, head of the Catholic world and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. The cardinal celebrated the occasion in his reading of the mass and called her a true disciple of Jesus as she saw Him in the poor. Hundreds of Christians in the city tuned in to the online streaming to attend the mass.
Later, the Archdiocese and the Missionaries of Charity organized a ‘Final Profession’ oath-taking ceremony of MC brothers, who committed themselves to lifelong bachelorhood and service to the poor.
At St Thomas’ Church, priests of the Archdiocese of Calcutta, Fr Devraj Fernandes, Fr Rodney Borneo, Fr Michael Biswas, Fr Orsan Wells and Fr Bimal Mandi said the prayers at 4pm. The first reading was done by Angelina Mantosh Jansnani, president, Catholic Association of Bengal (CAB). Jasnani read from the letter of St John that talked about how fellow humans should love one another. “ It was an honour to be part of the programme because I grew up under Mother Teresa,” Jasnani said. The vote of thanks was delivered by Colin Fitzgeral, treasurer, CAB. Trinamool councillor Juhi Biswas was also present.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. Fondly remembering Mother Teresa (Saint Teresa of Calcutta) on her birth anniversary.”