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Fourteen years after her death, Mother Teresa still teaching India about human dignity

Nirmala Carvalho - Tue, Sep 6th 2011

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – “Each day, ten people die in Khaligat. They die in dignity, smiling, touched by the love of Christ Mother Teresa and the missionaries brought them,” Sister Alex said. She is a Missionary of Charity working in Nirmal Hriday (house of pure heart). She remembers the nun from Kolkata, who was beatified by John Paul II in 2003, on the day of her liturgical memory, which is also the day of her death.

Today, around her grave at the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Jain religious leaders gathered to pray. The topic of the service was “Love, as I have loved”. Today, an exhibit on the life and deeds of Mother Teresa (28 August – 5 September) also ended in Ernakulam (Kerala),

Khaligat’s Nirmal Hriday is the first hospice Mother Teresa opened in 1952 to bring in, care for and clean the dying left in the streets of Kolkata. “In this house, we have joined tens of thousands of people with God,” Sister Alex said. “We cleaned and clothed them. They died with dignity, knowing that in the last moments of their life they were loved.”

“People are thirsty of love,” Sister Alex said, “but not only human love because our souls are created by God. In the eyes of the dying poor who are brought here in Khaligat, there is often hopeless desperation. But once they are touched by the missionaries’ care and compassion, they are full of dignity. Despite their haggard breath, they are restored and die, smiling, surrounded by the love of Jesus. All the comforts of the world will not quench the thirst humans have—only Christ can satisfy them.”

For Fr Cedric Prakash, director of Prashant, a Jesuit centre for human rights, justice and peace based in Ahmendabad, Mother Teresa “represents a challenge for each of us”. Her work is also a lesson that can be used in the fight against corruption.

In the past few months, the Indian government has introduced anti-corruption legislation in parliament, which led Anna Hazare to adopt a Gandhian strategy of resistance. His repeated hunger strikes successfully blocked the bill before lawmakers, which gives him hope that his proposal might be examined.

“India needs the values Mother Teresa stood for, nurtured and born witness to in all her life,” Fr Prakash said.

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