Bengaluru: Archbishop Dr Bernard Moras, initiates in the Archdiocese the cause of canonization of the servant of God Mother Teresa of St Rose of Lima, the Foundress of the Carmelite Sisters of St Teresa (CSST) last week.
Dr Moras, mentioning briefly about her early life and service to the society and the church, called upon those present to dedicate their lives for the cause of the poor and the needy of the society. The Archbishop, an undisputed leader of the church reminded all to focus on spiritual life which, he said, is possible only if one loves God and fellow beings.
Mother Teresa of St Rose of Lima was born on January 29, 1858 to Peter D’Lima and Mary D’Lima at George Town in Madras (Chennai), India. She was christened Mary Grace and was nurtured by loving parents in a religious atmosphere. At the death of her mother when Grace was very young, Peter D’Lima married a second time and was blessed with three children – two girls and one boy.
She was sent to the Presentation nuns at George Town, Madras, where she received quality education and excellent training. On completing her General Education Test for School Mistresses in 1875, she joined the staff of St. Xavier’s Free School, George Town, Madras, where her father was the Headmaster.
Fr. Alphonsus OCD, the parish priest of Mt. Carmel Church, Alleppey (also called Alapuzha) seeing that the girls of the parish had little opportunity for school education planned to establish a school in his parish. He contacted Fr. Doyle, parish priest of the church at George Town, for a competent teacher. On Fr. Doyle’s request Peter D’Lima agreed to send his daughter Miss Grace D’Lima to Alleppey. In 1879, Grace arrived at Alleppey and took charge of the school at its very inception in a thatched shed which was later known as St. Joseph’s school.
The life of intense prayer, sacrifice and missionary zeal of the Carmelite Fathers at Alleppey inspired Grace to dedicate her whole self to God and so in May 1882, she was received as a Postulant by Fr. Candidus OCD. On April 29, 1883, she was vested and given the name – Sr. Teresa of St. Rose of Lima. On May 25, 1885, Sr. Teresa made her religious Profession as a Carmelite Tertiary.
In 1887, Dr. Leonard Mellano OCD, the Archbishop of Verapoly discerning her special vocation called Sr. Teresa from Alleppey to Ernakulam to start an English medium school and found a religious community of Sisters. Consequently, a convent with the name St Teresa’s Convent of the Third Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was founded on April 24, 1887. This was the humble beginning of the Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa (CSST). It was here that Mother Teresa lived and worked during the rest of her short life.
Archbishop Moras said that her remarkable contribution to society was the empowerment of women through education. In education, her vision went beyond her times. In this, we see her forestalling the Vatican II which says, “A true education aims at the formation of the human person…” (Declaration on Christian Education, No. 1).
Convinced as she was that the church needed educated young men loyal to her and able to defend her teaching and doctrines, she worked with fiery ardor in close collaboration with the ecclesiastical superiors and the clergy for the establishment of St. Albert’s school for the Catholic boys of Ernakulam.
She responded to every genuine human need. In 1892, when one of her orphans was suffering from an attack of smallpox and admitted in a smallpox ‘charity hospital’, and Mother Teresa had to go through the bitterest experience, there she conceived the idea of a dispensary for the poor. In 1887, when the state was gripped by a terrible famine, Mother Teresa with her small community of Sisters wholeheartedly collaborated with the government in its famine relief programme by undertaking the work of feeding the poor of Ernakulam. Mother Teresa’s loving concern reached even prison walls where people were being punished for real or supposed crimes.
A woman of ‘deep God experience with the sense of Mission’, Mother Teresa of St. Rose of Lima responded in a prophetic way to the demands of the Gospel and the Church in a period of great socio-political and religious ferment in India. With her unwavering confidence in God’s providence and her great compassion for people, she worked steadily to integrate humanity by humanizing those sections of society marginalized by casteism and economic poverty. Impelled by the strength of her prayer life, she took risks to build the Kingdom through education and social apostolate keeping alive a deep faith vision. She sought to lead persons to experience their human dignity and assume their rightful place in society by building a civilization of Love.
Fighting against heavy odds, she started two schools-in English and the Vernacular, an Industrial school, a boarding school, an orphanage, a ‘Magdalene Home’ for unwed mothers, Home for the aged, a dispensary, Family Apostolate, engaged in Famine Relief Programme and Prison Ministry among others. She exercised her benevolent influence on the Dewan of Cochin to obtain permission to celebrate the Eucharist in the prison on the feast of St. Joseph. Her zeal for God’s Kingdom was such that nothing could deter her.
Mother Teresa led a God-centred life. She worked whole-heartedly in the service of the poor and the illiterate.
The life of “A Great Woman and Religious” as she was considered by all in Ernakulam and even in Europe was abruptly cut short in a train accident at Mangapatnam in Andhra Pradesh while travelling to Bombay on September 12, 1902.
Sisters, orphans, boarders, plunged in grief, were weeping and wailing, with no one to console them. The first reaction of the sisters was one of utter helplessness, to disband and disperse. But Mother Teresa had taught them both by word and example to accept the Will of God under every circumstance however painful, as worthy daughters of St. Teresa.
Mother Teresa’s conduct in every situation of her life was remarkably spiritual. ‘The values that nurtured our Foundress’ prayer life were her Faith, the Will of God and Trust in the Providence of God’. Her work is being continued by Sisters in 122 convents spread all over India and abroad.
The noble life of Mother Teresa came to a sudden end, said Sr. Prema CSST, Postulator, St. Teresa’s Generalate, Bengaluru. Mother Teresa was enroute to Europe to seek assistance from her spiritual guide for her multifarious ministries when God called her to Himself. She died in a train accident at Mangapatnam in the diocese of Cuddapah in Andra Pradesh.
Within the short span of 15 years as the foundress, she had proved herself to be a trend-setter, a far-sighted visionary and a missionary beyond her times. Her life and spirituality continue to inspire not only the members of CSST but everyone who is oriented towards God and committed to selfless service.
As per the request of the Institute of the Carmelite sisters of St. Teresa, the Congregation for the Cause of Saints has granted the Jurisdiction to the Archdiocese of Bangalore by the rescript dated May 4, 2012, to conduct the diocesan inquiry of the life and the heroic living of all Christian virtues as well as the reputation of holiness of the Servant of God.
After having consulted with the Holy See, all bishops and having verified the existence of reputation of sanctity enjoyed by her during her life and growing after her death, Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore is pleased to begin the diocesan process of the Cause of Beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Mother Teresa of St Rose of Lima.