Mother Teresa's road to sainthood holds special meaning for St. FX
This week’s announcement that Mother Teresa will be named a saint is resonating with people around the world, including those at St. Francis Xavier University, from which she received an honourary degree 40 years ago.
By the time she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, Mother Teresa was known around the world for dedicating her life to helping the poor in India.
Four years before that, she was invited to the Antigonish, N.S. university to receive an honourary degree at the fall convocation, thanks in part to a connection with the Coady Institute’s overseas programs.
She made the trip and received the honour, but with one major stipulation.
“She didn’t want to accept the degree even from us, but finally she accepted it,” Fr. Vince MacLellan told CTV News back in September 1997. “She accepted it only under the condition that it was received for the poor people of the world and that was her reason for accepting it finally.”
Will Sweet, co-ordinator of the Catholic Studies program at St. FX, says it comes as no surprise that Mother Teresa is about to canonized in 2016, which is the Holy Year of Mercy in the Catholic Church.
He also says he realizes some people may not understand why she is being made a saint.
“We don’t really know what saints are anymore and I suppose that’s probably the biggest problem is that people don’t know what saints are, but really they’re basically people who reflect God in their daily lives,” explains Sweet.
However, the campus connection to a soon-to-be-saint is a source of pride for many St. FX students.
“I think it’s amazing. That’s one of the best parts about the university is that we recognize people like that,” says student Maari Singfield.
“I’m honoured to be a St. FX student and be able to associate with her like that,” says student Dariana Al-Salan.
Mother Teresa died on Sept. 5, 1997, at age 87. At the time, her Missionaries of Charity order had nearly 4,000 nuns and ran roughly 600 orphanages, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and clinics.
She will be made a saint on Sept. 4.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh