A tiny village in remote northeast India, the only place in Arunachal Pradesh state that St Teresa of Calcutta visited some 23 years ago, celebrated the new saint’s canonization on Sept. 4 with great fervor and enthusiasm. Mother Teresa of Calcutta visited the tribal village of Borduria in Tirap District on Aug. 2, 1993, some 4 years before her death in 1997. The faithful of the village on Sunday joined the global celebration of Mother Teresa’s elevation to Sainthood, with a procession, a Mass and installing a statue of the Saint. Local Bishop George Pallipparambil of Miao, who was instrumental in Mother Teresa’s visit to the village, presided over a Eucharistic celebration. “It was a very pressing need to bring Mother here”, recalled Miao’s first bishop. “Any child born with physical deformity was considered a curse to the family and so such children were thrown in the river immediately after birth,” the Salesian bishop recalled. “We requested Mother to come and open a house so that such children would be collected and brought up”. With heavy restrictions on travel to the state bordering Tibet and Myanmar those days, it was difficult for Bishop George, a priest then, to get the required permission for her visit. “The administration was not willing to give permission and hostile response to our request was visible,” he recalled. “However, due to some kind people’s goodwill and support we managed to bring her to Borduria”, he said. Mother Teresa came and inaugurated the first Catholic Church in Arunachal Pradesh in Borduria and also laid the foundation for the House of the Missionaries of Charity (MC) Sisters there.
The celebrations in Borduria started with a huge procession with a portrati of the new saint from the general public ground of the village, leading to the first Church that Mother Teresa inaugurated in Arunachal Pradesh. To mark this event a statue of the Saint was installed at the entrance of the Church. Sr. Bibiane the superior of the house that Mother Teresa came to lay foundation says, “I am very happy today because of our Mother is in Heaven. She is praying for us and the whole world for God’s Mercy.”
Bishop George exhorted the faithful that celebrations must not end there. “Mother Teresa challenges us today to be like her, loving God through His people,” he urged. “There should be many Teresas from among us to make a difference to the people, to make it a better place to live in. There are no great things but only small things with great love,” he said.
The villagers of Borduria fondly remembered the Saint’s visit to their humble village. “23 Years has gone by after Mother’s visit but it feels like yesterday”, said Mr. Techa Tangddong whose father did the anchoring during her visit. The anchor for today’s event Mr. Nawang Lowang Medam, said that his whole village felt blessed to see this day. “I was a small boy when she came and the memories of her visit are so vivid in my memory. It feels so great today to realize a Saint has walked on the streets of our village”, he said. The MC Sisters working in Borduria were felicitated during the cultural event by the villagers. Mrs. Wangalet Lowangcha, the wife of the man who was responsible for the spread of Church in east Arunahal Pradesh, recalled with nostalgia Mother Teresa’s visit to her village.
On Saturday, the eve of Sunday’s celebration there was a series of animation programme for youth, women and men groups in Borduria. In Khonsa town, the headquarters of Tirap District, the faithful took out a candle-lit procession town with a photo of St. Mother Theresa of Kolkata and it concluded with a movie on the Saint.
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