Mother Teresa's sandals, rosary displayed in Gary

2010-07-18T00:00:00Z 2010-07-19T00:20:17Z Mother Teresa's sandals, rosary displayed in GaryBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Jennie Weer, 15, of Griffith, doesn't remember Mother Teresa's death at age 87 in 1997 because she was only 2 years old.

But she remembers and is astounded by the Nobel Prize-winning nun's life and accomplishments helping the poor.

It's the reason she said she felt "honored" to greet the more than 400 guests of all ages who arrived at St. Mark's Catholic Church in Gary on Saturday for a Mass and special devotion to the foundress of Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity.

The faith-based focal point of the service was the chance to see a rare display of relics from Mother Teresa, which are part of a traveling display honoring the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa's birth.

The gathering included a scattering of several orders of nuns, distinguished by their varied habits and styles of veils.

The most familiar for many was Mother Teresa's own Missionaries of Charity, which has a convent house connected to St. Mark's Church and rectory. That is why the display made the brief morning stop in Northwest Indiana while on its way to two Chicago churches later in the day.

"I volunteer with my dad every Saturday to help these sisters at this convent with their soup kitchen for the homeless," said Weers, the daughter of Phillip and Nadia Weers.

"There is so much to do, but the sisters never complain."

Mother Teresa's sandals, her rosary, her crucifix, some of her hair and a vial of her blood were among the items displayed.

Bishop Dale Melczek, of the Catholic Diocese of Gary, led the Mass assisted by several priests, reminding the comfortable capacity crowd of the curious and the faithful how Mother Teresa continues to have "an incredible spiritual influence for people around the world."

"There is no better example for all of us than Blessed Sister Teresa," Melczek said.

"And we are blessed in this diocese with the continuation of her presence."

Although Mother Teresa has yet to be granted sainthood, she is known and loved by millions for her work with the poor in Calcutta, India. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003, which is the first step toward sainthood in the Catholic Church.

Prior to being invited to venerate the relics with prayers and a symbolic kiss, Melczek reminded everyone that the Gary order for the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity did not want any monetary donations for Saturday's devotional service.

However, the nuns provided paper and pencils for anyone wishing to write down a name or prayer intention to be sent along with the relics for their return to Calcutta, with the promise the written intentions would be placed on Mother Teresa's tomb.

Following the service, Sister Maria Agnes, of the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, assisted the other sisters with giving each person attending a prayer card depicting Mother Teresa, which they said "had each been touched to the relics and blessed."

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