Kingston Archbishop inspired by Mother Teresa

September 08, 2016
Patrick Planter/ Photographer Roman Catholic Archbishop-elect, Kenneth Richards.
File Pope John Paul II greets Mother Teresa of Kolkata as they meet in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in June 1997.

Around 3 p.m. last Sunday, Catholics from across Jamaica gathered at the Holy Trinity Cathedral on North Street in Kingston to celebrate the canonisation of Mother Teresa into sainthood.

Archbishop-elect of Kingston Kenneth Richards recalled meeting the nun when she visited Jamaica in the 1990s and how it affected his mission as a young priest.

"I met Mother Teresa when she visited Jamaica sometime in the '90s, and one of the things that fascinated me about her was her humility, and when you speak to her, one of the things she would always say is 'please pray for me. Think of me as that drop of water that you poured into the wine for the celebration of the Eucharist', and I have reflected on those words as I carry out the work."

global popularity

Mother Teresa, who gained global popularity for her work with the poor in a Kolkata, India, was converted into Saint Teresa of Kolkata in a three-hour Mass at the Vatican.

"Her ministry truly captured the social teachings of the Church," Richards said.

Richards' meeting with the Saint has inspired him to tackle crime in Jamaica and the Caribbean in the same way that Saint Teresa dedicated her life to eradicating poverty in Kolkata and many corners of the world, including Jamaica.

"As Mother Teresa identified poverty in Kolkata, we should tackle crime the same way, and we have in place a number of institutions that we can use to change the mentality of the youths in Jamaica," Richards said.

"While I was in Antigua, we had a youth conference that focused on marriage and family life, and subsequently, we had an evaluation of the process that took place. In dialogue with my colleagues, we are looking at a five-year programme for the renewal of family life," Richards said about playing his part in reducing crime in Jamaica.

Richards has also expressed contempt for Saint Teresa's critics who, according to an article in the Daily Mail, claim that Saint Teresa used funds from donations to finance trips around the world to meet with politicians.

"I think that persons can be so disingenuous about what Mother Teresa did in Kolkata. She didn't create the conditions that caused persons to be living in the streets, and she reached out. She could have lived a comfortable life in Europe," Richards said.

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