New Delhi (Fides Service) – The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India has officially proposed to the Indian government to proclaim 19 October, date of the Beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a state holiday. Archbishop Vincent Concessao, vice president of the Bishops’ Conference presented a letter in this sense to Prime Minister Atala Behari. While awaiting the Premier’s reply the Christian communities of India will make the same request to the First Ministers of the different states. “The ceremony is a great event for every citizen of India” the letter says.
In the letter the Bishops also request for a live broadcast of the Beatification Mass on national Indian T V and they invite the Prime Minister to send a high ranking official to attend the Papal Liturgy in Rome.
Other requests made by the Bishops include: the positioning of a picture of Mother Teresa in the central hall of the Indian parliament and the setting up of a fund – with public and private contributions from Christians and all people of good will – to send to homes for orphans and abandoned children.
The government has already announced a Mother Teresa Award for commendable initiatives in social work, to “inspire people to devote their lives to the poor, like Mother”.
The governor of New Delhi state has given permission for a street to be named after Mother Teresa and for a statue to be erected on the street. Delhi archdiocese is preparing for the event with a symposium, prayer meetings, events of interreligious dialogue and a blood donor campaign.
Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi sees the beatification of Mother Teresa as a great opportunity for evangelisation and an occasion for the Church in India to launch a message to the whole world. “Because Mother Teresa was loved and respected by all Indians for her work among the poor, through her Beatification the Gospel’s message of love and compassion will reach many more people and it will also help people to understand clearly what we Christians do” the Archbishop told Fides Service, recalling that “some fundamentalist groups have distorted the work of Mother, calling it a means to obtains conversions”.
In Calcutta, in the meantime, tributes of flowers and prayers marked the 93rd anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa on 26 August. Crowds of devotees including hundreds of school children visited Mother Teresa’s burial place at the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Sister Nirmala Joshi, Superior of the Congregation said: “This is a happy day on which we renew our commitment to alleviate the sufferings of the poorest of the poor”. PA (Fides Service 2/9/2003 EM lines 34 Words: 452)