Albanian roots organization donates statue of Mother St. Teresa to St. Athanasius Parish
“By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus. ”
These words from Mother Saint Teresa are emblazoned on a poster hanging from the side of St. Athanasius Church. Last Sunday, the prominent Bensonhurst parish hosted the Albanian president, along with local Albanians, to honor Mother St. Teresa with the unveiling of her statue. Monsignor David L. Cassato, Pastor of St. Athanasius Church, gave the blessing over the statue. Preceding the dedication ceremony were Mass and then musical and dance performances by the Alba Life School and local dance academies.
The Sept. 25 celebration had an interfaith bond as well. The President of the Republic of Albania, Bujar Nishani, was born a secular Muslim. Representatives from the Albanian Roots organization, which donated the statue, and State Sen. Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn) co-led the dedication ceremony starting at 12:30 p.m. outside St. Athanasius Catholic Academy at Bay Parkway and 61st Street.
Pope Francis on Sept. 4 had canonized the humanitarian worker and founder of the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa is now known as St. Teresa of Calcutta.
Msgr. David Cassato, whose parish is largely composed of Italian Americans, said “This is a great union of faith. A great sign to the community of God’s inclusive love. God has such tremendous love, an ‘abbondanza’ of love, if anyone embodies that, it’s Mother Teresa. She went out to all people, touched the lives of all people.”
Italy and Albania are close geographically, as Albania sits just across the Adriatic Sea from the province of Bari in southeast Italy. Albania’s land borders are Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece.
Mother St. Theresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, Albania. At the age of 18, she left her home and moved to Ireland to pursue missionary work joining the religious order known as Sisters of Loreto. In 1931 Sister Teresa was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta where she began teaching at St. Mary’s School for girls.
She pursued her passion for service and in 1948, received permission to begin a new religious order, the Missionaries of Charity. She left the Loreto convent to embark on her new mission of serving the poor to which she devoted the rest of her life.
Mother Teresa died on Sept. 5, 1997. Pope John Paul II beatified her on Oct. 19, 2003 and on Sept. 4, 2016 Pope Francis canonized her a saint.
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