PROVIDENCE — As more than 120,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square to celebrate Pope Francis’s canonization of Mother Teresa at the Vatican, hundreds also gathered Sunday at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul for a local Mass to commemorate the new St. Teresa of Kolkata.
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“This in a way is a victory celebration for the Church,” said Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, who served as principal celebrant during the 10 a.m. Mass, of Mother Teresa being elevated to sainthood. “This is a great day for those who share in the same faith, the same Church.”
“We pray fervently that we will all try to follow her marvelous example of faith, devotion and love and service to the poor. We pray that we will all benefit, the Church, the world, each one of us will benefit by her prayers for us from her place in heaven.”
The bishop extended a special welcome to the members of the Khoury family of Johnston, whose daughter Sydney recovered from a very serious and life-threatening illness several years ago after he blessed her with a relic of Mother Teresa at the request of her family.
“I believe and many others believe there was a miraculous intervention that day,” Bishop Tobin said. “No doubt we should give thanks to God for the blessings he’s given to Sydney, her family and to all of us as we go through our daily lives through the intercession of the angels and the saints.”
In 2008, then six-year-old Sydney fell critically ill with a cancerous tumor being discovered on her kidney. Bishop Tobin visited Sydney in the Intensive Care Unit and prayed over her with a relic of Mother Teresa, a gift from a fellow priest in the bishop’s native Pittsburgh who had obtained it in Rome where he worked with the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order founded by now St. Mother Teresa.
Both of Sydney’s parents and Bishop Tobin witnessed the young girl’s body convulse during the prayers for her recovery.
Sydney, who was declared cancer free in 2012, brought up the gifts along with her sister Ava during the Mass.
Since then, Sydney has learned much about the saint who she believes cured her.
“In school, I did a saint project about how she helped little kids in India,” said Sydney, now 14 and a student at St. Thomas Regional School.
“I also talked about how she cured me,” she added.
Many of those gathered came up to Sydney and her family after the Mass to wish them well.
“This is a great day for Catholics around the world,” said Sydney’s father, Ken Khoury, of the overall celebration of St. Teresa.
Worshippers lined up for an opportunity to venerate the first class relic, which was placed prominently along with a painting of Mother Teresa in the front of the cathedral during the Mass.
Among those kneeling to venerate the relic was Sister Anne, O.P., of St. Pius V Parish, Providence.
“We’re all filled with joy,” she said. “This day really gives us hope.”
Sister Maria Garcia, and Sister Celia Mejia, both Missionary Sisters Servants of the Word, sat quietly in prayer as the large crowd prayed before the relic.
“We are very happy today. We are receiving many blessings,” Sister Maria Garcia said of Mother Teresa’s elevation to sainthood.
Rose Malloy, a parishioner at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Bristol said that when she saw an article in Rhode Island Catholic about the upcoming Mass at the cathedral to honor St. Teresa, she just knew she had to be there.
“She’s quite an inspiration to us. The Mass was very moving,” she said.