Locals celebrate Mother Teresa's canonization

Mother Teresa declared Saint by Pope Francis

SAN ANTONIO -- Mother Teresa is now Saint Teresa of Kolkata.

Pope Francis named the Albanian nun a saint in front of tens of thousands in the Vatican Sunday morning.

"We could see how she could see Jesus in the needy, on those abandoned, on the elderly, on the neglected. She was a woman of love and she did everything out of love," said Sister Gemma Abonge, who celebrated mass Sunday evening at San Fernando.

Monday marks 19 years since the death of Mother Teresa.

Crowds gathered Sunday evening for a procession outside of San Fernando Cathedral, entering the Doors of Mercy. Pope Francis declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy which began December 2015, and will continue through November 20, 2016. All are invited to practice works of mercy throughout the year; September's mercy focus is to clothe the naked.

The Year of Mercy, and September, in particular, aligns perfectly with the canonization of Mother Teresa. She dedicated her life to helping the poorest of the poor and show love to the dying. Like one of her most famous quotes, she served those in need by doing small things with great love.

The church credits Saint Teresa, known as the "saint of the gutters", with having performed two miracles. One was the healing of a Brazilian man suffering from brain tumors, and the other was the healing of a woman's stomach tumors after praying to Mother Teresa.

"I'm always impressed about all the good things and all the wonderful miracles that happened while she was alive," said Maria Teresa Martinez, who visited San Antonio to celebrate mass at San Fernando Cathedral.

Her work and compassion for the poor helped earn Mother Teresa the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

"We came here to come celebrate with father and everyone that's out here. She was a very dedicated lady. She dedicated her life helping the poor. It's something good to do. It's about time she became a saint!" said Antonio Martinez, who celebrated the monumental occasion with his family at San Fernando Cathedral.

Saint Teresa's canonization happened quickly, too. Only Pope John Paul II was named a saint within a shorter span of time, just nine years after his death.

"Feeling somebody in our generation finally being canonized is a great feeling," said Martinez.

Sunday evening, crowds gathered at San Fernando Cathedral to walk through the Doors of Mercy. Garcia-Siller says this is an opportunity for many who do social service to reach with compassion and with mercy to the poor and homebound. Just like Mother Teresa, with their help, more people will walk through the holy doors with a sense of transformation, healing, and repentance.

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller met Mother Teresa on five occasions. He recalled seeing her in 1982 when she gave a speech to graduates of St. Thomas Aquinas College in California.

On a different occasion, Garcia-Siller said he took 25 members, devout brothers of his community, to meet Mother Teresa in Los Angeles. He says fellow sisters of Mother Teresa kept approaching her, respectfully asking that she hurry or she would miss her flight.

"[The sisters] came again and said, 'Mother Teresa, your plane will leave.' She said, 'I'll take another plane,' and she visited with each one of the brothers and she spoke personal words to each one of us," said Garcia-Siller. "To me, she said, 'Be pure because the pure see God. You will do a lot of good if you see God."

Pope Francis said Sunday morning that people may struggle to refer to the Albanian nun as "Saint Teresa". He said, "With great spontaneity, I think we will continue to call her Mother Teresa."

"She was like a woman who knew what she was doing and nobody would change her mind," said Garcia-Siller.

(© 2016 KENS)


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