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Spirit of joy & thanksgiving

Marking the moment of Mother Teresa’s beatification on the morning of October 19, there will be a mass at St Peter’s Square, in the Vatican. In the evening, the film The Legacy, made by New Yorkers Ann and Jan Petrie on Mother’s life, will be screened for a select few. The next day, there will be a thanksgiving prayer, followed by an afternoon with the Pope — health permitting — for Mother’s “closest friends”, who will be travelling to the Vatican for the ceremony.

Leading the way from Calcutta will be Mother Teresa’s successor as head of the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Superior Sister Nirmala. “I will be at the beatification as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity. We expect many, many people to be there — people of all religions, cultures, nations, ages, social and economic standing,” said Sister Nirmala, who leaves for Rome on Saturday.

“We have been preparing for the beatification in a spirit of joy and thanksgiving, with much prayer, sacrifice, loving service of the poorest of the poor, and also through study and reflection on our Mother’s life and spirit,” she added.

Paying tribute to the Albanian-born missionary, Sister Nirmala recalled her fateful first meeting with Mother Teresa, in March 1958, at Mother House, following which she joined the Missionaries of Charity. “She was mother — mother to me, and mother to everyone she met.”

Among those sharing that sentiment are former tennis champion Naresh Kumar and wife Sunita, who will be leaving for London the day after the departure of Sister Nirmala. They will attend an exhibition of Sunita’s paintings on Mother Teresa, before proceeding to Rome on October 16.

“It is the greatest experience of my life, and it will be wonderful for us to be there. She was always a saint for us, and it is a great thing for her achievements to be finally recognised by the Catholic church. There has never been an occasion before when people who knew the person being beatified were actually present at the ceremony. So, I am really looking forward to this trip,” said Sunita.

Singer Usha Uthup, who will leave for Rome on October 11, is another Calcuttan who will attend the ceremony. “I am over the moon… It was a dream of mine to visit the Vatican, and I am happy that Mother made it happen. I have also written a song in her memory, called The Poorest of the Poor,” she said, before reciting “You will fill their hearts with love and peace, Oh Mother, Mother Teresa….”

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