Mother Teresa relics spur memories of 1995 Peoria visit
For anyone involved in the Dec. 10, 1995 visit of Mother Teresa to Peoria, the arrival of her relics here last Friday was -- as baseball great Yogi Berra once said -- like déjà vu all over again.
In both cases, diocesan officials had less than a week to make preparations. In 1995, the diocese learned on a Monday that Mother Teresa would be arriving that Sunday. With the relics, the diocese also learned on a Monday (July 12) that it had but four days to prepare and spread the news.
In 1995, after a Mass in which she witnessed the renewal of vows of several members of the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa stayed and greeted everyone who wanted to meet her. At least 1,500 did, including many who had been in their homes watching on TV, and all received a medal from her hands. Likewise, the Missionaries of Charity who brought her relics to Peoria last Friday stayed long after Mass to offer hundreds of people all the time they wanted to venerate the items -- and hand them a medal as well.
Both visits had a connection with OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. In 1995, Mother Teresa traveled to OSF Saint Francis to express gratitude for the excellent care the staff provided one of her Sisters. Last Friday, the Mass welcoming her relics immediately followed the dedication of the new Children’s Hospital of Illinois and OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.
In 1995, Bishop John J. Myers told Mother Teresa “we consider your Sisters a gift among us, and you a special gift today.” Last Friday, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, thanked the Missionaries of Charity for “sharing with us a precious treasure,” the relics of their foundress as the centenary of her birth approaches. Both bishops urged the faithful to use the occasions to strengthen their own love for, and service to, the poor.
One aspect was noticeably dissimilar to anyone who attended both visits. The outside temperature in 2010 was 90 degrees warmer than in 1995. But the degree of respect and affection for this hero of our faith hasn’t changed in the 13 years since her death, as evidenced by the loving reverence shown her relics by those who attended last Friday.
The final words of Bishop Jenky’s homily spoke of future encounters with Mother Teresa, including one we should all hope to experience. “Let us look forward to that day when Mother Teresa is canonized,” said the bishop, “and to the day we share with her the paradise that knows no end.”
Following her example of selfless service of Christ in the guise of His beloved poor would be the best way to prepare for that encounter. Don’t delay, because meetings with Mother Teresa can sneak up on you. -- Thomas J. Dermody