Catholic across Meghalaya erupted with joy as Pope Francis pronounced Mother Teresa of Calcutta a Saint of the Catholic Church even as thousands were glued to television sets to witness the canonisation at St. Peter Square in Vatican City.
There were special prayers in churches and Catholic homes for the Mother Teresa, who had visited Shillong – once in 1975 and again 11 years later. Some of them recalled their meeting with Mother Teresa.
Archbishop of Shillong Dominic Jala inaugurated a new church named after Saint Teresa of Calcutta at Nongshyrngam, about 80 km from Shillong, while a book "Saint of Gutters" written by former Deputy Chief Minister Bindo Mathew Lanong was also released at the Mary Help of Christian cathedral here.
"Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded. She was committed to defending life," Jala said.
Lanong, a former journalist turned politician, who had interviewed Mother Teresa at the Missionaries of Charity international headquarters, known as Mother House, Calcutta in 1976 said: "Mother was adorned a living saint and today the Pope has proclaimed as a saint Teresa of Calcutta for her tireless work to help us understand us about gratuitous love to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion.
"During my half an hour interview with Mother (Teresa). I remember she told me that she has started a leprosy colony in Nongpoh (the headquarters of Ri-Bhoi district in Meghalaya) in 1975 and what she wants was that the people of Meghalaya to have a heart and feeling for them only by understanding that we will able to love and extend our helping hand."
"Mother Teresa’s humility was felt by all mankind cutting across caste and religion. When my late father was under detention during 1976 emergency period, we found tremendous comfort when we received letters from Mother consoling us which we sent to the jail where my father was lodged," Meghalaya State Planning Board chairman, John Kharshiing said.
In fact, it was Kharshiing’s parents were also instrumental in setting up of the Leprosy Colony and another home for Missionaries of Charity at Shanti Bhavan near Raj Bhavan in 1996.
Honsen Lyngdoh, a well-known philanthropist in Meghalaya, recalled his meeting with Mother Teresa, 30 years ago at Calcutta airport, and her advice, while Ashok Goenka, who recalled her visit here in the mid-1970s at the invitation of his father Radhey Shyam Goenka on behalf of The Rotary Club of Shillong, said that she was a messiah for the poor and destitute.
The head of the Missionaries of Charity in Shillong, Sister Lipika MC, said there will be a thanksgiving mass on Monday at 5.30 p.m. at the Laitumkhrah Cathedral Church and at Shanti Bhavan on September 10.
Shanti Bhavan has sent two sisters – Anncein MC and Binita MC – to Rome as representatives.
To mark the canonisation of Mother Teresa, Shillong will host an international film festival titled ‘Mother Teresa International Film Festival’ from September 6 to 9 at the U Soso Tham Auditorium.