With the words “we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Kolkata to be a saint and we enroll her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole church,” Pope Francis recognized the newest member of these holy men and women Sept. 4 at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.
Among the masses present for the occasion were three seminarians from the Diocese of Camden studying at the North American College and a group of South Jersey pilgrims, including a couple from Williamstown.
“What a joyful moment it was when at Mass we heard the words during Eucharistic Prayer III: ‘Cum Santa Teresa (with Saint Teresa) and with all the saints, on whose constant intercession in your presence we rely for unfailing help,’” remarked seminarian Peter Gallagher.
“Saint Teresa of Calcutta is interceding for us all to help the poor, to teach those who do not know about Christ, to love simply and give generously to the most vulnerable — from the unborn to the elderly who are dying alone,” he added.
Kari Janisse explained the influence Mother Teresa has had on her life.
“I have always had a strong love and admiration for Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I can remember growing up and dressing as her for one Halloween during my Catholic grammar school years,” said Janisse, coordinator of Youth Ministry for Williamstown’s Our Lady of Peace Parish, who attended the Mass with her husband, Phil, and Gallagher and the two other seminarians, Josh Nevitt and Paul Abbruscato.
Two and a half years ago, she and Phil were in Rome for the canonization of Saint John Paul II.
“I guess it was (Saint Teresa’s) simplicity that caught me and as she said, ‘To do small things with great love.’
“She has challenged me to serve the poor in many ways from coordinating a local Mary’s Meals campaign at my parish/school, Our Lady of Peace and Saint Mary’s School, to even going to Haiti last year to work amongst the Missionaries of Charity as a lay volunteer for a week,” she added.
As he continues his studies for the priesthood, Gallagher took back to his dorm many lessons far greater than any he will learn in a classroom.
“May we all learn from her initiative to live like Christ asked of us in the Holy Gospel,” he said.
An estimated 120,000 people packed Saint Peter’s Square for the canonization Mass, many holding umbrellas or waving fans to keep cool under the sweltering heat of the Roman sun. When the pope said the words “declare and define Blessed Teresa of Kolkata to be a saint,” the crowds — including the pilgrims from South Jersey — could not contain their joy, breaking out in cheers and thunderous applause before he finished speaking.