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The local leader of the order of women who have dedicated their lives to continuing the work of Mother Teresa says she “can’t explain the joy” she feels that Pope Francis will today canonise the champion of the poor and downtrodden.
Despite her jubilation, Sr Maria Lucy, regional superior of the Missionaries of Charity, gave up her ticket to the canonisation in Rome to allow an Australian Sister to go in her place.
“I was in Rome, and I lived with Mother, and I was there when she died, and I was there for her funeral,” Sr Maria Lucy told The Catholic Weekly.
“I thought it was appropriate for me to make a little sacrifice so that somebody who has never been to Rome can be there for this moment, and I can be with the Sisters here in Sydney.”
Sr Maria and members of the Sydney community of the Missionaries of Charity will join hundreds of faithful at St Mary’s Cathedral this evening for Mass at 6pm. The congregation will then move to the college hall to view a webcast of the canonisation from 7.30pm.
An exhibition in the St Mary’s Cathedral Crypt will run until 12 September
Sr Maria Lucy said Bishop Terry Brady, auxiliary bishop of Sydney, had been instrumental in co-ordinating local celebrations.
Earlier, hundreds of faithful joined the Missionaries of Charity at their Sydney mother house for a novena for the nine days leading up to today’s canonisation.
“People from outside are joining us, which is wonderful,” Sr Maria Lucy said.
A series of celebrations and thanksgiving Masses will follow in the coming weeks.
“I can’t explain the joy I feel,” she said.
“I was with Mother when she died. I lived with her for five years. I knew her before that, but I lived with her for the last five years of her life.”
Sr Maria Lucy has no doubts that today’s canonisation, and the label of saint, is fitting for the Albanian-born nun.
“Knowing Mother, we knew she was a saintly person,” she said.
Like many, Sr Maria Lucy was shocked to learn of the despair and darkness that had plagued the woman known by the Missionaries of Charity as simply ‘Mother’.
“One thing I never knew was her darkness,” she said.
“She never appeared to be [struggling with that]. She was so full of Jesus.
“Anyone who came to her, she would always take them to Jesus. Jesus was everything for her, so I couldn’t believe it when I heard she was in the darkness, even with her deep faith.”
Sr Maria Lucy said she will forever remember Mother Teresa “showing everyone the way to Jesus”.
“She never attracted anyone to herself, but took them to Jesus.
“Mother would want to be hidden. She was so humble. She wouldn’t want any publicity for herself, but all for Jesus.”
As regional superior in Sydney, Sr Maria Lucy has established a small exhibition of Mother Teresa’s life at the order’s mother house at Surry Hills.
“I started collecting things and put up a little exhibition here
“My aim of the exhibition is to for people to get to know Mother.”
The canonisation had sparked interest in Mother Teresa, and the work of the order in general, she said.
“We’ve had plenty of phone calls from people asking about the canonisation events, the novena, asking for pictures of Mother, asking about what we do.”
Sr Maria Lucy was hopeful the canonisation would also boost vocations to the 65-year-old order.