Elpitiya church celebrates feast of its patron, St. Teresa of Calcutta | Daily News


Elpitiya church celebrates feast of its patron, St. Teresa of Calcutta

St. Teresa of Kolkata Church in Talgaswala, Elpitiya
St. Teresa of Kolkata Church in Talgaswala, Elpitiya

St. Teresa of Kolkata Church in Talgaswala, Elpitiya, in the Galle Diocese will celebrate the Feast of St. Teresa of Calcutta, the Saint of the Gutter, on Sunday, September 15, for which a large number of devotees are expected.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta was declared ‘Blessed’ by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 2003, and subsequently Pope Francis declared her a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church on September 3, 2016.

Bishop of Galle, Rt. Rev. Dr. Raymond Wickramasinghe will preside as the chief celebrant of the festive High Mass.

This is reportedly the first church in Sri Lanka dedicated to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Before the construction of the present church, the Catholic parishioners of Talgaswala used to attend religious services including the celebration of Holy Mass, conducted in estate storerooms, houses, and under the trees.

Mother Teresa was born on August 26, 1910. She described herself to world this way: “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.”

Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia and joined the Sisters of Loretto at age 17 as a postulant. She was sent to Calcutta for training in religious life and while there, she contracted tuberculosis and was sent to rest in Darjeeling.

While on her way to Darjeeling, she had felt what she called “an order” from God to leave the convent and live among the poor.

Leaving her convent where she had a secure life, Mother Teresa began working in the slums, teaching poor children, and treating the sick in their homes. A year later, some of her former students joined her and together they gathered men, women and children dying in the gutters along the streets and ensured they had died in dignity.

In 1950, a new order of nuns was born. The congregation limited itself first to the diocese of Calcutta and was named the ‘Missionaries of Charity’. In 1952, the government granted them a house to continue their good work, their ‘mission of serving’ Calcutta’s poor and forgotten. Today, they operate in 176 countries, serving the ‘poorest of the poor’.

Mother Teresa, though small of stature, exhibited ‘rocklike’ faith. She was entrusted with the mission of proclaiming God’s thirsting love for humanity, especially among the poorest of the poor.

On August 26 this year, hundreds of Missionaries of Charity gathered at their headquarters to commemorate the 109th birthday of their founder, Mother Teresa.

The construction work of Elpitiya church commenced on September 29, 2010, during the time of Fr. Gratian, the then Parish Priest. “With the blessings of St. Teresa of Calcutta and with the hard work of parishioners and the financial support of generous benefactors, we were able to construct this church,” said the incumbent Parish Priest Fr. Arun Rex, OCD.

Bishop Wickremesinghe consecrated this church and opened it for public worship on January 24, 2012. The pond nearby and beautiful tea estates add to the beauty of this church, which is just 20 kilometres away from the Kurundugaha Expressway entrance on the Mapalagama road.

Fr. Rex went onto say how the present church turned into a new parish with the passage of time. This church, the substation of Kurundugaha and Udugama, was raised to the status of quasi-Parish on July 5, 2016, and came under the purview of Carmelite Fathers. From September 2, 2018, the church has been a separate parish in the Galle diocese run by the Carmelite Fathers.

Devotees from every part of the country come to attend the Novena and Holy Mass every Thursday and on feast days. “Many miracles take place in this holy place and the increasing number of pilgrims to this Church is testimony to this fact,” Fr. Rex said.

The church is in the possession of the Holy Relics of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta – such as her blood – kept in a repository for veneration. Every Thursday, the Novena are conducted and Holy Mass is offered every first Thursday. There is a special prayer service for the sick after the Novena Mass.

Catholics from other parishes are welcome to attend the Novena Mass, recollections, one-day retreats and the feast dedicated to Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Fr. Rex said.

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