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On today’s podcast, Deacon Steve Greco is joined by a dynamic Catholic actress, writer and producer named Christin Jezak. Christin grew up on the east coast and currently resides in Los Angeles, but she is no stranger to the campus of Christ Cathedral. Just a few years ago, she headlined her own one-woman show portraying Saint Mother Teresa in the Freed Theater.

The question of the day: is it possible to work in the entertainment industry today and still hold strong to one’s Catholic/Christian values? Let’s talk about it!






Originally broadcast on 8/29/21


Vatican City, Dec 13, 2018 / 05:39 am (CNA) – The Vatican announced Thursday that Pope Francis will travel to Bulgaria and Macedonia May 5-7, 2019, with a stop in Mother Teresa’s hometown of Skopje.

The pope will spend the bulk of the trip in the Bulgarian cities of Sofia and Rakovski before visiting Skopje, Macedonia, the birthplace of Mother Teresa, on May 7.

While Mother Teresa is commonly associated with Calcutta, India — the city included in her heavenly title of Saint Teresa of Calcutta — she spent the first 17 years of her life as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia before receiving her call to a vocation as a missionary sister in 1928.

The Mother Teresa Memorial House in Skopje, the saint’s former home-turned-museum, has welcomed visitors who desired to learn about St. Teresa and venerate one of her relics since 2009.

Pope Francis will be the second pope to visit Bulgaria after St. Pope John Paul II’s visit in 2002.

The motto for Pope Francis’ Bulgarian trip is “Pacem in Terris,” recalling St. John XXIII’s 1963 encyclical of the same name. Before becoming pope, St. John XXIII was the first apostolic visitor and then apostolic delegate to Bulgaria from 1925 to 1931.

Church leaders in both Bulgaria and Macedonia invited Pope Francis to visit their respective countries, the Dec. 13 Vatican message stated.

According to the U.S. State Department, Bulgaria’s Catholics make up only 0.8 percent of its population. Seventy-six percent of Bulgarians are Eastern Orthodox Christian, mostly in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The second largest religious group in the country are Muslims at 10 percent of the population.

In Macedonia, an estimated 65 percent of the population is Orthodox Christian and 33 percent is Muslim.

The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis will also visit Panama, the United Arab Emirates, and Morocco in 2019 before his trip to Bulgaria and Macedonia.



This past weekend was the 39th annual garage sale in our Orange County neighborhood. Some 120 homes participated and shoppers came from San Diego, Riverside and L.A. counties, as they have done for nearly four decades, to purchase other people’s castoffs.

As I sat in a folding chair in the driveway watching shoppers sift through items my husband and I determined we could live without, I couldn’t help but think of that expression: “You can’t take it with you.” I was also imagining our two sons one day deciding what items of ours they will keep and what items they will discard when the time comes for them to go through our belongings. This is the first step in an effort to make that project easier for them.

There is truly a cleansing feeling that comes from having less, I discovered after the sale. I walked into our bedroom closet for the first time since it was cleared of things that no longer fit or are no longer in fashion and there was a real sense of – I’m not overstating it – peace. Our walk-in closet just felt more tranquil. I could see more, because there was less. It almost felt as if I could breathe more easily.

I thought of Mother Teresa, of whom it is said that upon her death she only had a few possessions – a couple of saris and a pair of sandals. No need for her to comb through drawers and shelves to shed things that weren’t necessities; she kept her possessions to a minimum. I now aspire to be more like Mother Teresa.

So, if you can’t take it with you, why do we collect so much stuff? Why do we want more? And why do we save all of it? In the end, we don’t need any of it. Sure there are the macaroni necklaces made by little fingers that I’ll never let go of and the photos of my family over the years are more priceless now than ever. My rosary is among my most prized possessions. But the glassware, the mismatched plates, the books and the electronic devices … we never really needed most of them in the first place.

Not only did this annual ritual of purging items at the garage sale help clear out the house, it also helped to clear my mind. I will approach this year differently as a consumer, buying less and giving more. Next year, for the 40th annual neighborhood garage sale, I just might not have anything at all to sell.


KOLKATA, India (CNS) — A favorite motto of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata was: “Do small things with great love.”

But the “small things” she did so captivated the world that she was showered with honorary degrees and other awards, almost universally praised by the media and sought out by popes, presidents, philanthropists and other figures of wealth and influence.

Despite calls on her time from all over the globe Mother Teresa always returned to India to be with those she loved most — the lonely, abandoned, homeless, disease-ravaged, dying, “poorest of the poor” in Kolkata’s streets.

On Sept. 4, Pope Francis, who has spent this year preaching about mercy, canonized Mother Teresa, who traveled the world to deliver a single message: that love and caring are the most important things in the world.

“The biggest disease today,” she once said, “is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference toward one’s neighbor who lives at the roadside, assaulted by exploitation, corruption, poverty and disease.”

Her influence is worldwide. The Missionaries of Charity, which Mother Teresa founded in 1950, has more than 5,300 active and contemplative sisters today. In addition, there are Missionaries of Charity Fathers, and active and contemplative brothers. In 1969, in response to growing interest of laypeople who wanted to be associated with her work, an informally structured, ecumenical International Association of Co-Workers of Mother Teresa was formed.

The members of the congregation take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but the vow of poverty is stricter than in other congregations because, as Mother Teresa explained, “to be able to love the poor and know the poor, we must be poor ourselves.” In addition, the Missionaries of Charity — sisters and brothers — take a fourth vow of “wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor.”

The tiny, wizened Mother Teresa in her familiar white and blue sari opened houses for the destitute and dying, for those with AIDS, for orphans and for people with leprosy. She founded houses in Cuba and the then-Soviet Union — countries not generally open to foreign church workers.

Her combination of serene, simple faith and direct, practical efficiency often amazed those who came in contact with her.

In 1982, when Israeli troops were holding Beirut under siege in an effort to root out the Palestine Liberation Organization, Mother Teresa visited a community of her nuns at Spring School, a home for the aged in East Beirut. It was her first visit in a war zone but not her last.

Meeting with Red Cross officials about relief needs, she asked what their most serious problem was. They took her to a nearby mental hospital that had just been bombed, requiring immediate evacuation of 37 mentally and physically handicapped children.

“I’ll take them,” she said.

“What stunned everyone was her energy and efficiency,” a Red Cross official involved in the evacuation said afterward. “She saw the problem, fell to her knees and prayed for a few seconds, and then she was rattling off a list of supplies she needed — nappies (diapers), plastic pants, chamber pots. We didn’t expect a saint to be so efficient.”

She was an advocate for children and was outspoken against abortion.

In a 1981 visit to New York, she proposed a characteristically direct and simple solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancy: “If you know anyone who does not want the child, who is afraid of the child, then tell them to give that child to me.”

When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 1979, she accepted it “in the name of the hungry, of the naked, of the homeless, of the blind, of the lepers, of all those who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society.” She also condemned abortion as the world’s greatest destroyer of people.

“To me, the nations who have legalized abortion are the poorest nations,” she said. “They are afraid of the unborn child, and the child must die.”

Often when criticized about her approach to social issues, Mother Teresa told of a man who suggested she could do more for the world by teaching people how to fish rather than by giving them fish.

“The people I serve are helpless,” she said she told him. “They cannot stand. They cannot hold the rod. I will give them the food and then send them to you so you can teach them how to fish.”

When she was criticized for not using her considerable influence to attack systemic evils such as the arms race or organized exploitation and injustice, she simply responded that was not her mission, but one that belonged to others, especially to the Catholic laity.

“Once you get involved in politics, you stop being all things to all men,” she said in an interview in 1982. “We must encourage the laypeople to stand for justice, for truth” in the political arena.

In 1994, British journalist Christopher Hitchens released a video, “Hell’s Angel — Mother Teresa of Calcutta,” in which he accused her of being, among other things, a fraud and a “ghoul”; of providing inadequate and dangerous medical treatment for patients; of taking money for her personal gain; and of using her fame to “promote the agenda of a fundamentalist pope.”

And New York Daily News columnist Dick Ryan said many American nuns were quietly critical of Mother Teresa’s lack of acceptance of or support for their lifestyle and their self-image as American religious women intent on fostering social justice and religious renewal. For Mother Teresa, love for the dying, the scandal of abortion and the obedient servanthood of women were paramount — to the exclusion of such issues as social problems and male domination in the church, Ryan said.

American columnist Colman McCarthy sought to answer the critics.

“Undoubtedly,” he wrote, “Mother Teresa would be much closer to the orthodoxies of American social improvement if she were more the reformer and less the comforter. But instead of committee reports on how many people she’s moved ‘above the poverty line,’ all she has are some stories of dying outcasts. Instead of acting sensibly by getting a grant to create a program to eliminate poverty, she moves into a neighborhood to share it.

“When Mother Teresa speaks of ‘sharing poverty,’ she defies the logic of institutions that prefer agendas for the poor, not communion with individual poor people. Communion disregards conventional approaches. It may never find a job for someone, much less ever get him shaped up. Thus the practitioners of communion are called irrelevant. They may get stuck — as is Mother Teresa — with being labeled a saint.”

Mother Teresa was born Agnes Ganxhe Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in Skopje, in what is now Macedonia, Aug. 26, 1910. She had a sister, Aga, and a brother, Lazar. Her father was a grocer, but the family’s background was more peasant than merchant.

Lazar said their mother’s example was a determining factor in Agnes’ vocation.

“Already when she was a little child she used to assist the poor by taking food to them every day like our mother,” he said. When Agnes was 9, he said, “She was plump, round, tidy, sensible and a little too serious for her age. Of the three of us, she alone did not steal the jam.”

As a student at a public school in Skopje, she was a member of a Catholic sodality with a special interest in foreign missions.

“At the age of 12, I first knew I had a vocation to help the poor,” she once said. “I wanted to be a missionary.”

At 15, Agnes was inspired to work in India by reports sent home by Yugoslavian Jesuit missionaries in Bengal — present-day Bangladesh, but then part of India. At 18 she left home to join the Irish branch of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Loreto Sisters. After training at their institutions in Dublin and in Darjeeling, India, she made her first vows as a nun in 1928 and her final vows nine years later.

While teaching and serving as a principal at Loreto House, a fashionable girls’ college in Kolkata, she was depressed by the destitute and dying on the city’s streets, the homeless street urchins, the ostracized sick people lying prey to rats and other vermin in streets and alleys.

In 1946, she received a “call within a call,” as she described it. “The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor, while living among them,” she said.

Two years later, the Vatican gave her permission to leave the Loreto Sisters and follow her new calling under the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Kolkata.

After three months of medical training under the American Medical Missionary Sisters in Patna, India, Mother Teresa went into the Kolkata slums to take children cut off from education into her first school. Soon volunteers, many of them her former students, came to join her.

In 1950, the Missionaries of Charity became a diocesan religious community, and 15 years later the Vatican recognized it as a pontifical congregation, directly under Vatican jurisdiction.

In 1952, Mother Teresa opened the Nirmal Hriday (Pure Heart) Home for Dying Destitutes in a dormitory — formerly a hostel attached to a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Kali — donated by the city of Kolkata. Although some of those taken in survive, the primary function of the home is, as one Missionary of Charity explained, to be “a shelter where the dying poor may die in dignity.” Tens of thousands of people have been cared for in the home since it opened.

When Blessed Paul VI visited Bombay, now Mumbai, India, in 1964, he presented Mother Teresa with a white ceremonial Lincoln Continental given to him by people in the United States. She raffled off the car and raised enough money to finance a center for leprosy victims in the Indian state of West Bengal.

Twenty-one years later, when U.S. President Ronald Reagan presented her with the presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House, he called her a “heroine of our times” and noted that the plaque honoring her described her as the “saint of the gutters.” He also joked that Mother Teresa might be the first award recipient to take the plaque and melt it down to get money for the poor.

In addition to winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa was given Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971; the Templeton Prize in 1973; the John F. Kennedy International Award in 1971; the $300,000 Balzan Prize for Humanity, Peace and Brotherhood in 1979; the Congressional Gold Medal in 1997; and dozens of other awards and honors, including one of India’s highest — the Padmashri Medal.

Even after health problems led her to resign as head of the Missionaries of Charities in 1990, her order re-elected her as superior, and she continued traveling at a pace that would have tired people half her age. In 1996 alone she had four hospitalizations: for a broken collarbone; for a head injury from a fall; for cardiac problems, malaria and a lung infection; and for angioplasty to remove blockages in two of her major arteries.

In late January 1997, her spiritual adviser, Jesuit Father Edward le Joly, said, “She is dying, she is on oxygen.” That March, the Missionaries of Charity elected her successor, Sister Nirmala Joshi. But Mother Teresa bounced back and, before her death Sept. 5, 1997, she traveled to Rome and the United States.

Mother Teresa was beatified in record time — in 2003, just over six years after her death — because St. John Paul set aside the rule that a sainthood process cannot begin until the candidate has been dead five years.


Catholic leaders in America recall their experiences working with Mother Teresa, calling her an “activist” and someone who knew how to get things done.

Sean Callahan, COO, Catholic Relief Services, says Mother Teresa listened to those in need and quickly found the resources to serve them.

William Canny, executive director of migration and refugee services recalls the power of her spirituality and the warmth he felt upon meeting her.



VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When Pope Francis canonizes Blessed Teresa of Kolkata Sept. 4, he won’t simply be fulfilling a special duty of his office, he will be honoring a woman he has called “a symbol, an icon for our age.”

When talking about the intersection of prayer, mercy, concrete acts of charity and peacemaking, Mother Teresa was Pope Francis’ go-to reference.

In one of his early morning homilies in November, Pope Francis spoke about war and about how, by the way they live their lives, many people promote hatred rather than peace and selling weapons rather than sowing love.

“While weapons traffickers do their work, there are poor peacemakers who give their lives to help one person, then another and another and another,” the pope said. Mother Teresa was clearly one of the peacemakers, he added.

“With cynicism, the powerful might say, ‘But what did that woman accomplish? She spent her life helping people die,’” Pope Francis said, noting that the cynics do not realize that Mother Teresa understood the path to peace and they do not.

A much longer papal reflection on lessons from the life of Mother Teresa was published in July; Pope Francis wrote the preface to an Italian publisher’s book of talks Mother Teresa gave in Milan in 1973.

Mother Teresa’s life showed the centrality of prayer, charity, mercy in action, family and youth, Pope Francis wrote.

“Mother Teresa untiringly invites us to draw from the source of love: Jesus crucified and risen, present in the sacrament of the Eucharist,” the pope wrote. She began each day with Mass and ended each day with Eucharistic adoration, which made it possible “to transform her work into prayer.”

Her prayer led her to the extreme edges of society — the peripheries — recognizing the poor and the marginalized as her brothers and sisters and offering them compassion, he said.

The little nun in the blue-trimmed white sari teaches people that “feeling compassion is possible only when my heart embraces the needs and wounds of the other,” witnessing to God’s caress, the pope wrote.

The Gospel tells people they will be judged at the end of time for how they fed the hungry, clothed the naked and cared for others in need, he said. “Mother Teresa made this page of the Gospel the guide for her life and the path to her holiness — and it can be for us, as well.”

Pope Francis also noted in the book that, from her experience ministering to the rejected, Mother Teresa knew and constantly emphasized the importance of family and family prayer. Home, he said, is the place people learn “to smile, to forgive, to welcome, to sacrifice for one another, to give without demanding anything in return, to pray and suffer together, to rejoice and help each other.”

And, in a message to young people at the end of the preface, Pope Francis said, “Fly high like the eagle that is the symbol of Mother Teresa’s country of origin,” Albania. “Do not lose hope, do not let anyone rob you of your future, which is in your hands. Remain in the Lord and love him like God loves you; be builders of bridges that break down the logic of division, rejection and fear of others, and put yourselves at the service of the poor.”

Pope Francis also referred, in passing, to Blessed Teresa in his 2013 apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium,” on the proclamation of the Gospel in the modern world. Asserting the right and obligation of Christians to express publicly their opinions on political and social issues in order to promote the common good, the pope wrote: “Who would claim to lock up in a church and silence the message of St. Francis of Assisi or Blessed Teresa of Calcutta? They themselves would have found this unacceptable. An authentic faith — which is never comfortable or completely personal — always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better that we found it.”

In April, flying back to Rome from Lesbos, Greece, with 12 Syrian refugees, Pope Francis was asked what difference his visit to a refugee camp and his hosting refugees could make. “I am going to plagiarize. I’ll answer with a phrase that is not mine,” he told reporters traveling with him.

“The same question was asked of Mother Teresa: ‘All this effort, all this work, only to help people to die. … What you are doing is useless! The sea is so great!’ Mother Teresa answered: ‘It is a drop of water in the sea! But after this drop of water the sea will not be the same!’ That is how I would respond. It is a small gesture, but one of those small gestures that we — everyone, men and women — must make to reach out to those in need.”



VATICAN CITY (CNS) — If there is one person who immersed herself in the “peripheries” Pope Francis is drawn to, it was Blessed Teresa of Kolkata.

If there was one who showed courage and creativity in bringing God’s mercy to the world, like Pope Francis urges, it was the diminutive founder of the Missionaries of Charity.

For many people, the Catholic Church’s Year of Mercy will reach its culmination when Pope Francis canonizes Mother Teresa Sept. 4, recognizing the holiness of charity, mercy and courage found in a package just 5-feet tall.

Ken Hackett, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, worked closely with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity in his previous positions at the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services. He was at her funeral in 1997, her beatification in 2003 and will attend the Mass where she will be declared a saint.

“Where Mother pushed the Missionaries of Charity was to the edge, to the most difficult places,” said the ambassador, who said he visited her houses “all the time, everywhere.”

“They were always way out there, both geographically and with the people who absolutely fell through the cracks,” he said. Mother Teresa opened homes in Ethiopia during the communist military dictatorship, in the most destitute neighborhoods of Haiti’s capital, in Rwanda after the genocide and in Yemen, where four Missionaries of Charity were murdered in March.

“When there was war, when there was fighting, there they were,” Hackett said. “They stayed.”

Mother Teresa demonstrated that living a life committed to mercy took “selflessness and courage,” he said.

Her courage also was demonstrated in her ability to “speak truth to power,” he said. Mother Teresa visited the United States regularly, speaking to Catholic groups, opening homes and meeting with presidents, including Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton. “She was straight out against abortion,” the ambassador said. “From conception to death — she was the whole thing and didn’t pull any punches.”

Like Pope Francis, he said, Mother Teresa drew energy from personal, one-on-one contact with people and consciously chose to live as simply as the poor she befriended and tended.

In life and after her death, Mother Teresa faced criticism for not using her fame and contacts to advocate more directly for social and political change to improve the lives of the poor she served.

“You can find all the things she wasn’t,” the ambassador said, “but what she was was much more important than what she wasn’t. She was a model and now she will be a saint.”

Valeria Martano, Asia coordinator for the Community of Sant’Egidio, said, “We are talking about a woman who broke out of the existing framework of what was expected of a Catholic woman in the 1940s. And, like Pope Francis, she chose to make her life a denunciation” of injustice. “Her witness was testimony that things can change. She did not speak of justice so much as do justice.”

“Mother Teresa chose to understand the world through the eyes of the least of the least, what Pope Francis would call the periphery,” said Martano, who also leads Sant’Egidio programs in the poorest neighborhoods on the southern edge of Rome.

But it is not just about “going out,” Martano said. For both Pope Francis and Mother Teresa, she said, everything starts with prayer.

The founder of the Missionaries of Charity insisted that she and her sisters were “contemplatives in the midst of the world,” she said. “It was not just about doing.” Mother Teresa’s prayer took her to the periphery and the peripheries were key to her prayer.

“What Mother Teresa lived, Pope Francis teaches constantly: compassion in the face of pain and never accepting indifference in the face of suffering,” said Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, Italy.

For the archbishop, Mother Teresa modeled “a church close to the poor, a church that is mother to the poor and that lives the joy of serving the poor.”

Revelations after her death that she suffered a “dark night of the soul,” decades of feeling abandoned by God, are for Archbishop Zuppi a further sign of her deep immersion in the lives of the poor and forgotten.

“Her spiritual director would say that thirst is knowing there is water and longing for it,” he said. “She was a woman who made the thirst of Christ on the cross her own. She lived that thirst.”


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The poor, the suffering and those who minister to them will be at the center of celebrations leading up to the canonization of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata at the Vatican.

The main event — the canonization Mass — will begin at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 4, the Vatican announced Aug. 5.

A “family feast” for the poor, a musical, Masses and prayer vigils will precede her canonization, according to programs published by the Vatican and by the Missionaries of Charity, the order she founded.

Known as the “saint of the gutters,” Mother Teresa was revered for ministering to the sick and the dying in some of the world’s poorest neighborhoods.

Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910 to an ethnic Albanian family in Skopje, in what is now part of Macedonia, Mother Teresa went to India as a Sister of Loreto in 1929. Receiving what she described as a “call within a call,” she began her missionary work with the poor and laid the foundation for what would become the Missionaries of Charity.

Following her death in 1997, St. John Paul II waived the usual five-year waiting period and allowed the opening of the process to declare her sainthood. She was beatified in 2003.

The date of Mother Teresa’s canonization will coincide with the conclusion of the Year of Mercy pilgrimage for workers and ministers engaged in works of mercy.

Here are the main events planned around the canonization of Mother Teresa:

— Sept. 1, “feast for the poor and Missionaries of Charity family,” including a musical based on Mother Teresa’s life.

— Masses Sept. 2 in various languages in Rome’s Basilica of St. Anastasia al Palatino and veneration of her relics. In the evening, a prayer vigil with solemn eucharistic adoration will be held at Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran with Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the papal vicar of Rome, presiding.

— Catechesis Sept. 3 by Pope Francis for the jubilee celebration of workers and volunteers for mercy. In the evening, a prayer and musical meditation will be held at Rome’s Basilica of St. Andrea della Valle followed by veneration of Mother Teresa’s relics and Mass.

— Canonization Mass Sept. 4. Pilgrims will be able to venerate St. Teresa’s relics in the evening at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

— Celebration Sept. 5 of a Mass of thanksgiving and the first feast of St. Teresa of Kolkata in St. Peter’s Basilica with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, presiding. Pilgrims will be able to venerate the relics of St. Teresa at St. John Lateran in the evening.

— Sept. 6, continuing veneration of the relics of St. Teresa at St. John Lateran.

— Sept. 7-8, veneration of the relics of St. Teresa of Kolkata at Rome’s Church of St. Gregory the Great, along with the possibility of visiting her room at the convent of St. Gregory.



VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will declare Blessed Teresa of Kolkata a saint at the Vatican Sept. 4.

The date was announced March 15 during an “ordinary public consistory,” a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process.

At the same consistory, the pope set June 5 as the date for the canonizations of Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski of Poland, founder of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, and Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad of Sweden, who re-founded the Bridgettine sisters.

In addition, Pope Francis declared that Oct. 16 he would celebrate Mass for the canonizations of Argentina’s “gaucho priest,” Blessed Jose Brochero, and Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, a 14-year-old Mexican boy martyred for refusing to renounce his faith during the Cristero War of the 1920s.

Setting the dates concludes a long process of studying the lives and writings of the sainthood candidates:

n Mother Teresa was widely known as a living saint as she ministered to the sick and the dying in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the world. Although some people criticized her for not also challenging the injustices that kept so many people so poor and abandoned, her simple service touched the hearts of millions of people of all faiths.

Born to an ethnic Albanian family in Skopje, in what is now part of Macedonia, she went to India in 1929 as a Sister of Loreto and became an Indian citizen in 1947. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950.

Shortly after she died in 1997, St. John Paul II waived the usual five-year waiting period and allowed the opening of the process to declare her sainthood. She was beatified in 2003.

After her beatification, Missionary of Charity Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postulator of her sainthood cause, published a book of her letters, “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light.” The letters illustrated how, for decades, she experienced what is described as a “dark night of the soul” in Christian spirituality; she felt that God had abandoned her. While the letters shocked some people, others saw them as proof of her steadfast faith in God, which was not based on feelings or signs that he was with her.

The date chosen for her canonization is the eve of the 19th anniversary of her death and the date previously established at the Vatican for the conclusion of the Year of Mercy pilgrimage of people like her who are engaged in works of mercy.

n Blessed Papczynski founded the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception in Poland in the 17th century. Today the Marians are special promoters of the Divine Mercy devotion of St. Faustina Kowalska.

Born in 1631, he was ordained as a Piarist priest, but left the order after 10 years. His new congregation was established officially in 1679 and he died in 1701. He was beatified in Poland in 2007.

n Blessed Hesselblad was born in Faglavik, Sweden, in 1870 and went to the United States at the age of 18 in search of work to help support her family. She studied nursing in New York and, impressed by the faith of the Catholics she cared for, began the process of entering the Catholic Church. Coming from a Lutheran family, she was conditionally baptized by a Jesuit priest in Washington, D.C. On a pilgrimage to Rome, she visited the home of the 14th-century St. Brigid of Sweden and was welcomed by the Carmelite sisters who were then living there.

She received permission from the pope to make religious vows under the rule of St. Brigid and re-found the Bridgettine order that had died out in Sweden after the Protestant Reformation. She was beatified in 2000.

n Blessed Brochero, the “gaucho priest,” was born in Argentina in 1840 and died in 1914. Ordained for the Archdiocese of Cordoba, he spent years traveling far and wide by mule to reach his flock. Pope Francis, in a message in 2013 for the priest’s beatification — a ceremony scheduled before the Argentine pope was elected — said Father Brochero truly had “the smell of his sheep.”

He gained particular fame for his work caring for the sick and dying during a cholera epidemic in 1867. With his own hands, he built churches and chapels and opened paths through the western mountains of Cordoba province. During his travels, he contracted Hansen’s disease, more commonly known as leprosy; many people believe he was infected by sharing a cup of mate, an herbal tea, with someone who already had the disease.

n Blessed Sanchez was martyred in Mexico in 1928, just weeks before his 15th birthday. In 1926 Mexican President Plutarco Elias Calles had introduced tough anti-clerical laws and confiscated church property across the country. Some 90,000 people were killed in the ensuing Cristero war before the government and church reached an accord in 1929.

Young Sanchez wanted to fight in the war alongside his brothers, but he was too young. Eventually, he was allowed to be the flag bearer of a unit. During an intense battle, he was captured by government troops, who ordered him to renounce his faith. He refused, even when tortured. The boy was executed about two weeks later. He was beatified in 2005.



KOLKATA, India (CNS) — Sister Nirmala Joshi, who succeeded Blessed Teresa of Kolkata as superior general of the Missionaries of Charity and led the order for 12 years until retiring in 2009, died early June 23 in Kolkota at age 81.

Church and political leaders paid tribute to Sister Nirmala for her devotion to serving poor, sick and hungry people.

“She indeed carried forward the legacy of Mother Teresa, a legacy of love and service to the poorest of the poor through her nuns all around the world,” said Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata, where the order’s global headquarters is based.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered “deepest condolences to the Missionaries of Charity family on the passing away of Sister Nirmala.”

“Sister Nirmala’s life was devoted to service, caring for the poor and underprivileged. Saddened by her demise. May her soul rest in peace,” Modi tweeted.

Mamata Bannerjee, chief minister of West Bengal state, where Kolkata is located, said she was saddened by Sister Nirmala’s death. “The world will miss her,” she said.

“I express my deep sorrow, heartfelt sympathy and sincere condolences to all the sisters of Missionaries of Charity spread all over the world, and pray to God to give necessary strength and courage to all of them to accept this irreparable loss, and to carry forward Sister Nirmala’s legacy of compassion, gentleness and service to the poorest of the poor and holiness of life,” Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore said in a statement.

Sister Nirmala was eldest of 10 children in a Nepalese Hindu family that settled in Bihar state. Born July 23, 1934, she was given the name Kusum, which means flower. She graduated from Patna Women’s College, managed by Apostolic Carmel nuns.

She said in a media interview that her call to religious life originated in college at age 16 when she saw a Hindu companion kneel to pray and make the sign of the cross.

The daughter of a late army officer, she continued to search for her life’s calling for seven years and became a Catholic in 1958 at age 23. She joined the Missionaries of Charity a month later.

Her family was not happy with the conversion, she told the Asian Catholic news portal

One of the few Missionaries of Charity sisters who pursued studies after joining the order, Sister Nirmala supervised the work of Missionaries of Charity houses in Europe and the United States. She also had headed the order’s contemplative wing since 1979.

Archbishop D’Souza recalled “she used to spend every Thursday in prayer.”

On March 13, 1997, six months before Mother Teresa’s death, Sister Nirmala was elected the superior general of the Missionaries of Charity and served two terms. She turned down a third term in 2009, citing ill health.

Archbishop D’Souza said her death is a loss for the church in Kolkata, but “we are sure we have a saint in heaven to intercede for us.”

A funeral Mass planned June 24 at the Missionaries of Charity motherhouse in Kolkata.

Contributing to this report was Anto Akkara in Chennai, India.