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Celebrating the Canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta in the SSCC Novitiate (Brs)

The Congregation in India has a long history of being associated with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, through the work of Fr. Damien of Molokai, whose heroic life and ministry has impressed and inspired the founder of the Missionary of Charity who was canonized last Sunday, 4 September 2016.

Then the date goes forward to the year 1973 when Fr. Bill Petrie sscc first visited Mother Teresa in Calcutta and began to work with her along with Fr. Michael Shanahan sscc at Shantinagar Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre in West Bengal in 1975 and 1978. Fr. Bill remained a good friend of Mother Teresa until her last days, and remains connected with the Missionaries of Charity Sisters (MC Sisters) until today.

Since the establishment of the presence of SSCC Congregation in Calcutta, both the SSCC brothers and sisters branches, the MC Sisters have been quite helpful to us, and we have kept a good relationship with them,  a spiritual connection in that we share St. Damien of Molokai and St. Teresa of Calcutta. Mother Teresa wrote a personal letter to Pope John Paul II asking for the canonization of Fr. Damien so that the leprosy patients could have a patron saint. She also attended the beatification of Fr. Damien in Brussels.

Given such historical connection, on September 3, the vigil of her canonization, the Novitiate community in Bhubaneswar spent the night in adoration,  followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on September 4.

On September 5, when participating in the inauguration of St. Mother Teresa Road in Bhubaneswar, the Superior of Missionaries of Charity in Bhubaneswar silently called aside Fr. Alexis Nayak sscc, the novice master. She invited him to a special celebration for the 19th death anniversary of St. Teresa, the date of her feast day. While inviting him, she whispered in his ear: "You are part of our family".

Fr. Bill Petrie is traveling to India to a celebration of  the canonization of Mother Teresa that is being organized for September 18, 2016. On this special occasion, about 3 - 4 thousand leprosy patients in various colonies in and around Bhubaneswar and Cuttack in Odisha will share the festive meal. Our connection with Mother Teresa will always be part of our Congregational history in India. Pray for us, St. Mother Teresa.

Mother Teresa at the beatification of Father Damien (Brussels,1995)