The Bible has it that “first there was the world and then the flesh”. Along similar lines, one could possibly say that first there was the mother and then her love —  such was the grace of the “saint of the gutter”, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa all across the globe. And it is quite an understatement to say that this “saint” devoted more than half her life to the sick and the downtrodden in Kolkata for a good number of years. Her critics, however, accused her often of trying to inveigle people of other faiths to embrace Christianity. As a matter of fact, Mother Teresa did not convert a single person in her lifetime!

As per the record books, the process of beatification by the Catholic Church requires one miracle, while on the flip side, being recognised as a saint, requires evidences of at least two miracles performed. Back in 2008, a Brazilian was unexpectedly healed, after having suffered from prolonged brain tumours and later healed after his priest had prayed to Mother for a “miracle”. And then, an Indian woman was healed in similar a line after suffering from abdominal tumour.

This was again nothing short of a miracle. Pope Francis did recognise Mother Teresa&’s miracles and unending efforts for the downtrodden and come 4 September Kolkata&’s blessed Teresa will be declared a saint with her canonisation taking place in Rome. In this regard, a symposium entitled “The Contribution of Mother Teresa to Humanity” was held at the Father Depelchin Auditorium, St Xavier&’s College, Kolkata recently.

On a breezy Sunday evening, numerous Kolkatans, including priests, nuns  and brothers along with students and other veterans attended the much-awaited event. It got underway with a hymn — Bless the Lord, Oh my soul! — performed by Nikhil D’Souza and group, followed by welcome remarks by principal Father Felix Raj. “The city of Kolkata shines in her holiness and her sainthood only removes our sinfulness,” he asserted, going on to narrate his close association with Mother Teresa and remarking that leaders around the globe recognised her as a spiritual leader.

He also threw up a very striking question, “Didn’t Judas betray our Lord Christ?” while speaking about other myriad aspects of Mother Teresa.

Next up, Father Julian S Das spoke about the role Jesuits all over the world played in the making of Mother Teresa. Das, who is currently assistant director, Dhyan Ashram retreat house, also spoke about Mother Teresa&’s role as a visionary. A CD titled Amar Gaan er maajhey, full of beautiful hymns sung by Father Shyamal Makhal, was released. Makhal, a Phd research-scholar in music at Visva-Bharati University, also sang a couple of songs. “For us, Mother remains the song of celebration and hymn of compassion,” said Father Felix Raj. 

Published by The Goethals Indian Library and Research Society, Makhal&’s CDwas released on the auspicious occasion.  Geeta Kumar addressed the gathered audience and mentioned how Mother Teresa, once admitted in a city hospital, had asked one of the ward boys how he was keeping, despite herself being unwell! She also shared various anecdotes like how there would be almost a stampede every time Mother Teresa would visit foreign shores.

James McGinniss, all the way from Ireland, spoke on the role of volunteers in places like the Missionaries of Charity and Mother House, Kolkata.

“This was long due. Mother Teresa becoming a saint is not only a happy moment for Catholics but also for each and every Indian,” said Rajendra Kumar Raphael, secretary-cum-0administrator, St Thomas’ High School, Dasnagar, who had visited the Vatican earlier this year. In the words of Mother Teresa herself, he said, she was truly “a pencil” in the “hands of a writing God”.