St Teresa of Calcutta

Today in Rome Pope Francis is canonising Teresa of Calcutta so that she will become, nineteen years to the day after her death, St Teresa of Calcutta. Such is St Teresa’s influence that many millions will be tuning into the live coverage of the event and tens of thousands are expected in St Peter’s Square, including some pilgrims from our diocese. “Holiness is not the luxury of the few,” she said in one of her many lucid but challenging lines, “it is a simple duty for you and for me. We have been created for that. So let us be holy as Our Father in Heaven is holy.” Such a plain and radical understanding of the Gospel she chose to live in response to the call of Jesus to found the Missionaries of Charity that the Order is now among the largest in the Church with over 4,500 sisters working in over 600 missions in over 100 countries and supported by millions, all themselves growing in their discipleship of Jesus because of her heroic life and witness. She has so richly produced “the fruit that will last” which Jesus tells us comes of discipleship even as He calls us: “You did not choose me; no, I chose you, and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last.” (Jn 15:16). Today is formally also my last Sunday in Bow after six years and nine months of shared discipleship with you and it is the last newsletter until Fr Javier moves in. It has been an immense privilege to be among you and certainly I thank God most of all not so much for various structural or financial or other improvements that I have been able to assist with, but for our deepening, I hope, in our response to the call of Jesus in our shared lives here. This, too, I trust, is fruit that will last. As it happens one item I leave for the future of the parish is the relic of the then Blessed Teresa I asked the Holy See for some years ago and which they granted us. So on the altar today is the relic of St Teresa of Calcutta, two hairs from her head in the form of a cross in a reliquary. May St Teresa pray for our futures and for the parish in the years ahead. God bless you.                   Fr Michael