Oh, Mother! Lead us toward Love and Peace

The life and work of the late Mother Teresa of Kolkata will be remembered at the fifth Annual Interfaith Meeting at the Catholic Church of Christ the King in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill on Saturday, November 23, 2014.

Peseta Sam Lotu-liga, who was appointed as Minister of Ethnic Communities (a newly created Ministry) last month, will be the Guest Speaker at the event, which is expected to attract more than 700 men, women and children of various faiths, religions and ethnic groups living in Auckland and beyond.

Minister Peseta, an active Member of the Royal Oak Baptist Church, will have an opportunity not only of echoing the prayer of Mother Teresa (‘Make me a Messenger of Love and Peace’) but also of interacting with various ethnic groups. His role encompasses minority communities, reminding the local and central governments of the changing demography of New Zealand in general and Auckland in particular and the need to foster love and peace among all peoples.

Leaders’ Blessings

The country’s leaders, visiting dignitaries and leaders of various religions and faiths have been among the participants in the annual Mother Teresa Interfaith Meetings, which have the blessings of Archbishop Patrick Dunn and the availability of the Catholic Church of Christ the King since the series was launched in 2010.

In his inaugural speech at the Church on November 7, 2010, the then Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand described Mother Teresa as “one of the most influential and iconic people of the 20th Century.”

He said that she gave up a relatively comfortable position as Headmistress of the Content School and moved into the slums where she began work establishing the ‘Missionaries of Charity,’ dedicated to assisting the poorest of the poor.

“The increasing cultural and religious diversity poses challenges, which New Zealand should address, recognising the human values of justice, tolerance and respect for others. New Zealand is a nation whose cultural, religious and ethnic makeup has become considerably diverse, particularly in Auckland and especially so in the last quarter century. That diversity poses both opportunities and raised many challenges that need to be discussed,” he said.

Sir Anand said that there were three key messages inherent in Mother Teresa’s life and work.

They were Respect and Dignity towards Humanity, Service to the Community and the Power of Small Acts to Change Lives.

“It is in little things – courtesy to others, helping strangers in need, making donations to charities, volunteering out time to help others – that we being the process of change. In supporting worthy causes, every bit of efforts helps,” Sir Anand said.

The Mother Teresa Interfaith Committee, which organises the Annual Meeting comprises local businessman Wenceslaus Anthony as the Chairperson, representatives of the Catholic Church and community leaders of Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh, Zoroastrian and other faiths.

Sir Anand Satyanand, Archbishop Patrick Dunn, Wenceslaus Anthony, Vinod Kumar, Raj Bedi

A Grateful world remembers Mother Teresa

She led a life of piety, self-denial and selfless sacrifice to tend to the impoverished and the downtrodden and dedicated herself to the cause of humanity.

It is now the turn of the world to pay homage to one of the greatest souls that humankind has known and a soul that is on the threshold of Sainthood.

India led the world in marking Mother Teresa’s 100th Birthday on August 26, with the then President Pratibha Patil releasing a Five Rupee Commemorative Coin in New Delhi.

She described Mother Teresa as “The epitome of compassion and one of the noblest souls of our times.”

“She was truly the embodiment of the word, ‘Mother,’ in its fullest, truest and complete sense. It has been truly said that God cannot be everywhere and that is why He has created Mother,” Mrs Patil said.

The Missionaries of Charity established by Mother Teresa in Kolkata initiated the Centenary Celebrations earlier in the day with a special prayer.

Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo of Ranchi attended the early morning mass at the Chapel of Mother House as the main celebrant, while Archbishop of Kolkata Lucas Sirkar, Bishop of Baruipur Salvadore Lobo and Archbishop Emeritus Henry D’Souza were the concelebrants of the mass.

The US Government marked the Centenary with a commemorative US 44 cents Postal Stamp, featuring a portrait of Mother Teresa painted by award-winning artist Thomas Blackshear II of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The stamp was unveiled at a function in Washington.

The US Postal Service said in a communiqué, “Noted for her compassion toward the poor and suffering, Mother Teresa, a diminutive Roman Catholic nun and honorary US citizen, served the sick and destitute of India and the world for nearly 50 years.”

The Times Square in New York had marquees and hoardings in white and blue, the landmark colours of the simple attire of the late Mother.

In Auckland, the Catholic Church offered a Holy Mass at St Mary’s Church in Avondale with Mother Teresa Sisters Congregation on August 28.

Mother Teresa was born in Albania on August 26, 1910. She was named Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu.

She dedicated her life to the cause of the poor and the needy. Migrating to India, she established the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata (then Calcutta) in 1950 and for more than 45 years, she served the poor, sick, orphaned and dying.

Starting from a four-room and one hall set up at 14, Creek Lane in the West Bengal Capital, the Missionaries of Charity continued to expand, and now comprises over 4500 sisters and is active in 133 countries.

It runs homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. It also conducts children’s and family counselling programmes and runs orphanages and schools.

Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. The Government of India conferred the highest civilian honour of ‘Bharat Ratna’ (‘The Gem of India’) on her in January 1980.

The world was plunged into sorrow when she died on September 5, 1997.

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