AS Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a saint 19 years after her death, a tiny school community halfway across the world rejoiced.
The ceremony to proclaim the Nobel laureate, who is recognised globally for her work with poor people in the slums of Kolkata, India, drew 100,000 pilgrims from around the world to St Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
But in the suburb of Ormeau, on the Gold Coast, staff and students at Mother Teresa Catholic Primary School marked the occasion in their own special way.
The school, which only opened its doors six year ago, began celebrations with prayers led by parish priest Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament Father Joseph Kanatt.
It was the 19th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death and it was the fifth anniversary of the school being in its current location.
Staff and students reflected on the life of Mother Teresa and the ways she continued to influence people to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, to do small things with great love each day.
Fr Kanatt told the students they would now and forever celebrate the “feast day” of St Teresa of Kolkata at the school.
Assistant principal for religious education Kathleen Crawford said as she watched footage from Rome and witnessed the massive gathering of people for the canonisation, she felt it was something the students would never forget.
“Our aim here is to worship active faith and we’re really fortunate to have as our school motto an example from Mother Teresa ‘to do small things with great love’,” she said.
Ms Crawford said the canonisation had not really sunk in yet for many students.
“I don’t think they really understand the uniqueness of the occasion,” she said. “But they do understand, in the context of our school, that it’s a day of joy and celebration.”
Ms Crawford said it also was an auspicious occasion for the school’s foundation students.
“It’s really special to be here right from the beginning of a school’s life, but to add a canonisation and a sainthood to that is even more remarkable,” she said.
Foundation student Brianna Livingstone said it was wonderful to be part of the worldwide celebrations of the sainthood of Mother Teresa.
“It’s going to be hard for us to get used to saying St Teresa of Kolkata from now on when we are talking about her,” she said.