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The Road to Sainthood of Mother Teresa of Calcutta


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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“If I ever become a Saint—I will surely be one of ‘darkness’. I will continually be absent from Heaven —to (light) the light of those in darkness on earth.”
– Prophetic words of Mother Teresa

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Born Agnes Bojaxhiu to an Albanian family in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, Mother Teresa became world-famous for her devotion to the destitute and dying. The religious congregation, the Missionaries of Charity, she established in 1950, has more than 4,500 religious sisters around the world.

In 1979, Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize for her lifetime of service to humanity.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta died on September 5, 1997.

Scarcely two years after her death Monsignor Henry D’Souza, the then Archbishop of Calcutta, requested Pope John Paul II to dispense with the five-year waiting period required before beginning the process of beatifying and canonizing her.

Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C., one of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers, was appointed on March 9, 1999, as postulator (a person who presents a case for the canonization or beatification) of Mother Teresa’s cause.

The first session of the process of beatification leading to canonization took place at St. Mary Parish, in Rippon Lane, Calcutta, close to the Missionaries of Charity’s motherhouse.

As soon as the first stage of the process concluded on August 15, 2001, the second stage began in Rome.

Thirty-five thousand pages of documentation called the “Position” were collected in 2001 and 2002.

In the Catholic Church, humanitarian work alone is not sufficient enough for canonization as a saint. It is mandatory that a candidate for sainthood must be associated with at least two miracles to demonstrate that he or she, worthy of sainthood, must be in heaven, interceding with God on behalf of those in need of healing.

Robert Emmet Barron is an American prelate of the Catholic Church, author, theologian and evangelist, known for his Word on Fire ministry. As a frequent commentator on Catholicism and spirituality, he says:

“A saint is someone who has lived a life of great virtue, whom we look to and admire. But if that’s all we emphasize, we flatten out sanctity. The saint is also someone who’s now in heaven, living in this fullness of life with God. And the miracle, to put it bluntly, is the proof of it.”

In 2002, the Vatican officially recognised a miracle Mother Teresa was said to have carried out after her death in 1998. This miracle became the first milestone to sainthood of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Born and raised in Calcutta and a resident of the city during the period of Mother Teresa’s activity there, Aroup Chatterjee, a physician working in England authored the book Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict.

In the book Chatterjee challenges the widespread regard of Mother Teresa as a symbol of philanthropy and selflessness, accuses her of unfairly damaging the city’s reputation, that she exaggerated the work she did among the poor, that she failed to use the very large amount of money donated to her on helping the poor, and claims that the medical care given to people in homes run by Missionaries of Charity was grossly inadequate.

Channel 4, a British television channel aired a documentary named “Hell’s Angel” inspired by Chatterjee’s criticism. Christopher Hitchens, an Anglo-American author, social critic, journalist, and a well-known critic of Mother Teresa wrote and co-produced it with Tariq Ali.

In 2003, Aroup Chatterjee and Christopher Hitchens testified as two official hostile witnesses against the late nun as a so-called devil’s advocate to Church procedures for the beatification of Mother Teresa.

The miracle of curing the Bengali tribal woman was the first milestone to sainthood of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

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The First Miracle

Monica Besra at her village in West Bengal (Photo: Kallol Majumder-HT Photo)
Monica Besra at her village in West Bengal (Photo: Kallol Majumder-HT Photo)

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Monica Besra hails from a tribal community in Nakor village, in Dakshin Dinajpur district, 280 miles north of Kolkata in eastern India. Now she is 50 years old and a mother of five children.

About 15 to 17 years back she developed an abdominal tumour. She was taken to the nearby government hospital. The treatment for her ailment was expensive and her family had to mortgage their land. Even after undergoing a lengthy medication process she was so sick she could barely walk.

In 1998, when everything else failed, Monica’s sister took her to the then-recently-opened Missionaries of Charity centre near their village.

She was so ill she couldn’t eat anything. If she ate, she would immediately throw up.

The Sisters of Missionaries of Charity took her to a doctor in Siliguri who said that she might not regain consciousness if operated upon.

On September 4, 1998, a day before Mother Teresa’s first death anniversary, the Sisters of Missionaries of Charity took Monica to a small church in the premises to pray. As Monica was too ill to move, two Sisters supported her. There was a photograph of Mother Teresa there.

When she entered the Church a blinding light that emanated from Mother’s photo enveloped her. She did not know what was happening. The sisters prayed. Manica was too ill to sit for long and was soon brought back to her bed.

That night one of the Sisters after saying a prayer to Mother Teresa to help Monica get well soon tied a medallion of Mother Teresa on Monica’s abdomen.

After that, Monica who had trouble sleeping due to pain, fell asleep immediately. At about 1 AM she woke up to go to the bathroom. She was surprised to see her stomach was flat and the tumour was gone. She did not feel any pain. She went to the bathroom without help from anyone. When she returned from the bathroom, she woke up the woman sleeping in the adjacent bed and told her what had happened to her tumour.

In the morning MonicaI told the Sisters. and they took her to a doctor for a checkup. The doctor confirmed that she was cured of the tumour.

Back in 1998, Monica Besra’s claim of the miraculous cure by the intercession of the late Mother Teresa was, however, not without its detractors. The ‘miracle’ was hotly contested by doctors and rationalists alike. The doctors who had attended to her at the district hospital claimed that Monica was in fact cured because her tumour was detected at an early stage and by the medicines they gave her

Kolkata-based Prabir Ghosh, president of the Science and Rationalist Association of India, also challenged the miracle claims and the Canonization. He said:

“If people want to revere Mother Teresa for her social work, I have no problem. But these miracles are unreasonable. I challenge the Pope to cure every poor person in India who cannot afford medical care, by praying to Mother.”

Nonetheless, Monica Besra, her family members, and many others in her community firmly believe in the miracle and attend the local church regularly.

A board of medical specialists worked with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to study the alleged miracle. After combing the records and interviewing the medical staff involved, the committee determined that the healing was medically inexplicable.

As a first step towards sainthood, Mother Teresa was beatified by Pope John Paul II approved the miraculous cancer cure that occurred on the first anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death, in a fast-tracked process on December 20, 2002, barely five years after Teresa’s death. About 300,000 pilgrims attended the beatification ceremony at St. Peter Square on October 19, 2003 (World Missions Day).

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The Second Miracle

Marcilio Haddad Andrino (Source: boqnews.com)
Marcilio Haddad Andrino (Source: boqnews.com)

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The second miracle that took place in December 2008 involves Marcilio Haddad Andrino, a now-42-year-old mechanical engineer from Santos, Brazil.

In 2008, the recently married 35-year-old Andrino was affected by a bacterial infection in the brain which caused severe brain abscesses and agonizing head pain.

A priest, a friend of his told Andrino and his wife, Fernanda Nascimento Rocha, to pray to Mother Teresa for help cure his ailment.

Andrino underwent medical treatment. When the treatments failed, he slipped into a coma. While Rocha prayed to Blessed Teresa, he was taken in for a last-ditch surgery.

When the surgeon entered the operating room, he found Andrino fully awake asking him what was going on.

Andrino made a full recovery. Now, the couple has two children. Even though it was deemed a near medical impossibility by doctors, Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C., the postulator of Mother Teresa’s cause, referred to their children as a second miracle.

In December 2015, in an interview with the press, Father Kolodiejchuk explained why there was a delay between 2008 and 2015 in reporting the second miracle.

According to Father Kolodiejchuk, the miracle happened in 2008, but he became aware of it only in 2013.

The neurosurgeon who attended on Andrino was not a Catholic. Somehow, after the visit of Pope Francis to Brazil, something prompted him to tell one of the priests of Santos. This news eventually made its way to Father Kolodiejchuk and the postulation office and started the chain of events.

A board of medical specialists worked with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to study the alleged miracle in Brazil. In September 2015, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints accepted the findings of the medical commission and presented the report to Pope Francis for his final approval. On December 17, 2015, the Holy Father officially recognized the second miracle that was needed for Mother Teresa to be canonized.

The Vatican scheduled September 4, 2016, the day before her 19th death anniversary, as the canonization date for Blessed Mother Teresa, who thereafter will be known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

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“The Light of Faith tour” – Vatican’s St. Peter’s Cricket Club in England


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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The Vatican cricket team poses with the dome of St. Peter's basilica in the background. The newly-formed team will play against the Church of England first XI and the Royal household team. (Photo: Chris Warde-Jones)
The Vatican cricket team poses with the dome of St. Peter’s basilica in the background. The newly-formed team will play against the Church of England first XI and the Royal household team. (Photo: Chris Warde-Jones)

Father Tony Currer (41) leads Vatican’s first-ever cricket team. According to a released team list, seven Indians dominate the team and Father Curer is its only Englishman. Also, in the team are two Sri Lankans and one Pakistani. All members of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club are young seminarians training for the priesthood, many of them aged between 24 and 41.

Preparations for the cricket club began around a year ago due to the enthusiasm of Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, who said the initiative was an example of “sporting diplomacy”.

Pope Francis with the members of Vatican's Saint Peter's Cricket Club (Photo: St. Peter's Cricket Club - Vatican Facebook page)
Pope Francis with the members of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club (Photo: St. Peter’s Cricket Club – Vatican Facebook page)

Pope Francis, born in Argentina is an avid football fan, but knows little about cricket. He blessed the Vatican’s “underdog” cricket team that will be facing a formidable Church of England XI during their maiden foreign tour to England dubbed “The Light of Faith tour“. The Holy Father signed a cricket bat, which the team will take with them to England.

Members of the St Peter's cricket team, from left, Deepak Anto, captain Anthony Currer, Ajeesh George, Davidson Jestus, and Pratheesh Thomas (PA)
Members of the St Peter’s cricket team, from left, Deepak Anto, captain Anthony Currer, Ajeesh George, Davidson Jestus, and Pratheesh Thomas (PA)

The papal XI will play matches against chaplains of the British armed forces at Aldershot and the Royal Household Cricket Club at Windsor Castle, as well as two other games. The climax of the tour will be a showdown with a Church of England team in Canterbury on September 19, 2014.

The manager of Papal XI Father Eamonn O’Higgins, and “spiritual director” of the team, said:

“Realistically, we are the rank underdogs with a very outside chance, but that’s OK. None of us has played first class cricket. The boys have not had a lot of time to practice. What we hope for, above all, is a good match.”

The Vatican cricketers will be praying and playing during the eight-day tour of England organized by the Anglican weekly newspaper The Church Times and Kent County Cricket Club. They will be visiting several holy sites and raising money for the Global Freedom Network, which fights against modern slavery and human trafficking.

Father Jery Njaliath (36), a priest from Kerala said:

“We’re going over there to beat them, to play to the maximum. But we’ll certainly play in the spirit of the game.”

Father Tony Currer, the captain of Saint Peter’s Cricket Club said:

“Win or lose, the first cricket match in history between the Vatican and the Church of England will be an event  to remember and to build on.”

St. Peter's team in London before moving on to Aldershot (Photo: St. Peter's Cricket Club - Vatican Facebook page
St. Peter’s team in London before moving on to Aldershot (Photo: St. Peter’s Cricket Club – Vatican Facebook page

On September 13, 2014, St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) won the first match of The Light of Faith Tour against the Chaplains of the armed forces played at Aldershot Army Cricket Ground. St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) won the match by 81 runs.

Scoreboard:
St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) 152/2 (20 overs)
Chaplains XI 71/4 (20 overs).

St. Peter's XI in Brighton (Photo: St. Peter's Cricket Club - Vatican Facebook page)
St. Peter’s XI in Brighton (Photo: St. Peter’s Cricket Club – Vatican Facebook page)

On September 14, 2014, in the 2nd match played between St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) Vs. St. Peter’s CC (Brighton), the Vatican team won the toss and chose to bowl first. St. Peter’s Vatican lost the T20 game to St. Peter’s Brighton.

Scoreboard:
St. Peter’s Brighton 168/6 (20 overs)
St. Peter’s Vatican 114/9 (20 overs)

St. Peter's XI at Ascott House (Photo: St. Peter's Cricket Club - Vatican Facebook page)
St. Peter’s XI at Ascott House (Photo: St. Peter’s Cricket Club – Vatican Facebook page)

In the third match of The Light of Faith tour played yesterday, September 14, 2014, St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) faced the Authors XI at Ascott House. It was a 30 overs match. The Authors XI won the toss and chose to bowl first. St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) won the match by 4 runs.

Scoreboard:
St. Peter’s 151 (29 overs)
Authors XI 147/4 (30 overs)

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Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club: An Initiative Aimed at Forging Ties


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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From left, Fr. Theodore Mascarenhas, Australian Ambassador John McCarthy, Msgr. Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, and Fr. Eamon O' Higgins. (AP Photo)
From left, Fr. Theodore Mascarenhas, Australian Ambassador John McCarthy, Msgr. Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, and Fr. Eamon O’ Higgins. (AP Photo)

Cricket is a game traditionally played in Rome only by anglophones, eccentric English aristocrats and immigrants from the subcontinent. However, on October 22, 2013, John McCarthy, the Australian Ambassador to The Holy See, Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Father Eamon O’ Higgins, and Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India, met the journalists and announced the launch of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club.

John McCarthy QC – Ambassador to The Holy See. (Photo:- Kerry Myers)
John McCarthy QC – The Australian Ambassador to The Holy See. (Photo:– Kerry Myers)

Saint Peter’s CC is the brainchild of John McCarthy, Australian Ambassador to The Holy See. His son trained for the priesthood in Rome was frustrated by the lack of cricketing possibilities in the Vatican even though there is a significant number of people, mostly seminarians and clerics from cricket-playing countries who are keen to play cricket. McCarthy wanted something similar to the Clericus Cup – a soccer tournament among the religious colleges and seminaries of Rome.

Father Theodore Mascarenhas
Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India.

Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India, the club’s chairman, an off-spin bowler, said:

“I think cricket will begin to speak a new language — perhaps Latin, coming into the neighbourhood of the Vatican and beginning to take its first baby steps. We have the expertise. We have the will to do things. And I’m sure we’ll start with our baby steps and we’ll go far ahead. … We hope to have ecumenical dialogue through cricket and play a Church of England side by September.”

In response to a suggestion that cricketing terms and field positions might be translated into Latin or Italian, John McCarthy was firm: “English is the language of cricket and will remain the language of cricket”.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis, known for both intercultural and interfaith dialogue, is a known football enthusiast than a cricket watcher. He still supports the San Lorenzo football club of his native Buenos Aires. Father Mascarenhas said he believed the pontiff, as a “very open man”, would come to accept cricket.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture. ( Andrew Medichini  Associated Press  March 5, 2013 )
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture. ( Andrew Medichini Associated Press March 5, 2013 )

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture, praised the launch of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s CC as a chance to celebrate the nobility of “true sport,” an “expression of inter-culturality” and a “dialogue between people”.

Ambassador McCarthy said: “It is certainly the case that the Holy Father has heard of cricket … as a sport that was played in schools conducted by his [Jesuit] order in Argentina.”

Father Eamon O’ Higgins said: “But I think this is something that goes in line with one of the objectives of Pope Francis, which is to reach out and not stay within our own security zone.”

The organizers hope this initiative for forging ties with teams of other faiths, eventually, would lead to interfaith activities involving cricket matches against teams from Buddhist, Hindu,  Muslim, and Sikh educational institutions.

To begin with, the Vatican cricketers challenged their Anglican counterparts to play cricket at Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood, London – the home of cricket. Ambassador John McCarthy said:

“It is hoped there will be a team of sufficient level that, for instance, in the next year they could play a team nominated by the Church of England. … It would be the dearest aspiration of so many of the cricketers here that that game take place at Lord’s.”

Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, wears a cricket helmet. (AP Photo)
Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, wears a cricket helmet. (AP Photo)

Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, was not so optimistic. He quietly said the Vatican would try to put together a team which could “lose with dignity” against the English. “I think they’re very strong,” he added.

Reverend Mark Rylands, Suffragan Bishop of Shrewsbury
Reverend Mark Rylands, Suffragan Bishop of Shrewsbury

Responding to the Vatican’s proposal, Mark Rylands, suffragan bishop of Shrewsbury and a keen cricketer, said:

“I am delighted to hear of the formation of Saint Peter’s Cricket Club and look forward to welcoming them to England as brothers. We do not have a national team at present, but I’m confident that it will be possible for an annual fixture to be played in the spirit of ecumenism. To that end I hope we can keep any sledging to a minimum and that neutral umpires will not be necessary.”

Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. (Photo courtesy Durham diocese)
Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. (Photo courtesy Durham diocese)

On December 20, 2013, the Church of England formally took up Vatican’s challenge to settle scores on the cricket pitch almost 500 years after their split with the Vatican. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the 80-million strong worldwide Anglican communion, accepted the challenge through his representative to The Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop David Moxon, from New Zealand.

Archbishop David Moxon - Anglican representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
Archbishop David Moxon – Anglican representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Archbishop Moxon said the match would be held at Lord’s in September 2014 after the Anglicans formed a team of amateurs from Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and nearby theological schools.

When asked if a combination of sports diplomacy and inter-religious dialogue could help improve relations between the two Churches, Archbishop Moxon said:

“It will introduce a conversation piece all over the world whenever Catholics and Anglicans get together. … I think it can only do good and increase the bonds of affection we have for each other.”

Father Eamonn O’Higgins, the organizer of the Vatican cricket team, gave Archbishop Moxon the ball that will be used in the match.

A league composed of best players among priests and seminarians from countries with a cricket tradition – Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka – form the Saint Peter’s Cricket Club.

The Official emblem on the Saint Peters Cricket Club jacket. (Credit Ellis Haris - CNA)
The Official emblem on the Saint Peters Cricket Club jacket. (Credit Ellis Haris /CNA)

The Vatican team will wear the official white and gold colours of The Holy See and their jackets will have two crossed keys – the seal of the papacy,

Brother K.K. Joseph, an Indian who trained a number of future test players while they were in schools run by his religious order in India will coach the Vatican team.

A Vatican XI player during a training session at the Maria Mater Ecclesiae's Catholic College in Rome. (Photo: Reuters)
A Vatican XI player during a training session at the Maria Mater Ecclesiae’s Catholic College in Rome. (Photo: Reuters)

Saint Peter’s CC has already organized trial matches. It aims to have a Twenty20-style tournament between all the pontifical colleges of Rome. A pitch near Ciampino airport on the outskirts of the city has been made available.

While Saint Peter’s CC is currently men only, the organizers are also on the lookout for Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan nuns, who have played cricket before, in order to form a women’s cricket team.

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