Pope Invites the Nuns of the Missionaries of Charity to Vatican

( [email protected] ) Oct 22, 2003 09:38 AM EDT

VATICAN CITY – Hundreds of nuns of the Missionaries of Charity order attended a special invitational gathering to the Vatican, to hear the Pope’s reflection on the beatification of Mother Teresa, Oct. 21, 2003.

On Sunday, Oct. 20, Pope John Paul II presided over Mother Teresa’s beatification ceremony, finalizing the penultimate step to her sanctification. Once witnesses to miracles are found, Mother Teresa will be known as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.”

While Sunday’s ceremony lasted merely three hours – the shortest beatification in the Vatican’s history, the Pope still struggled to speak his homily; other prelates read the text in his place.

Nonetheless, John Paul was able to personally greet the dozens of prelates and nuns who joined him for Monday’s gathering.

"The message of Mother Teresa, now more than ever, appears like an invitation to everyone," John Paul said. "Her entire existence reminds us that being Christian means being witness to charity."

Mother Teresa, the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner, was particularly beloved by the pope for her life of service to the poor, and steadfast adherence to church teaching on opposing contraception and abortion.

"She always spoke out in defense of human life, even when her message was unwelcome," the Pontiff said. "Her daily encounters with death, leprosy, AIDS and every kind of human suffering made her a forceful witness to the gospel of life."

Mother Teresa opened a center in Calcutta, India, named “Nirmal Hriday,” or “Holy Heart,” to tend to the dying and destitute. The volunteers and nuns at the center continued their work on Monday.

"The beatification gives us new vigor and zeal because Mother Teresa has been held up as a model of holiness by the Roman Catholic Church," said Sister Christie of the Missionaries of Charity.

"We express all our joy, sorrow, gratefulness through prayer and service. So, it's normal work for us now after a wonderful Sunday," added Sister Paula Marie.