Thousands of New Yorkers will gather for Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Thursday evening to pray and commemorate the life of Blessed Mother Teresa. The event is being organized by area Albanian Catholics who seek to continue her works of charity and faith.
Our Lady of Shkodra Church, an ethnic Albanian parish in Hartsdale, New York, is arranging the 7 p.m. Mass at the cathedral on the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s birth. She had visited the parish church at its previous location in the South Bronx, near where she opened her first Missionaries of Charity mission in the United States.
The church is named after a miracle in the northern Albanian city of Shkodra, where Mother Teresa's family hails from.
Organizers of the Mass said in a press release that although the saintly woman served everyone regardless of background, “she held a special place in her heart for her Albanian kinfolk, especially during the dark days of the cold war when Albania’s communist government banned religion in the country.”
They also described her as a special “source of pride” for Albanians.
In her trips to New York she reported that she still prayed in Albanian. One of her most well known comments refers to her background: “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.”
After the fall of communism, in 1993 Mother Teresa attended Pope John Paul II’s inauguration of Shkodra’s cathedral. Before her death in 1997, she said she is “praying much for all my dear people of Albania.”
Upon her death, New York’s Albanian community celebrated a special Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. An overflowing crowd attended.
Our Lady of Shkodra Church has named its community organization The Mother Teresa Center and plans to have an annual community day of service inspired by Mother Teresa’s works of charity. Parishioners are helping to raise funds to build a large cathedral named for Mother Teresa in Prishtina, the capital city of Kosovo.
“Her legacy is the thousands of Missionaries of Charity sisters who continue to serve the poorest of the poor in almost every country throughout the world,” organizers of Thursday’s Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral said. They encouraged everyone to attend the Mass and to follow Mother Teresa’s counsel to “show great love for God and our neighbor.”