On September 4, 2016, Blessed Mother Teresa was canonized and from now on will be known throughout the world as Saint Teresa of Kolkata. When those of us my age or even older think of Saint Teresa, we may best remember her work with AIDS patients in Calcutta, her friendship with Princess Diana, and her tireless efforts to help the impoverished and dying in India. Her stooped figure, time worn face, and white and blue robes are iconic images, at least in my mind, of what it meant to be a very holy woman.
In following the process leading to her canonization, I am certain I was not the only person to be shocked to learn that she suffered, for years, from what the Church calls “the dark night of the soul.” A plague of spiritual doubt, that she shared with nobody haunted her life. She felt at times, in her own words that “Souls hold no attraction. Heaven means nothing, to me it looks like an empty place. The thought of it means nothing to me and yet this torturing longing for God.”Pray for me please that I keep smiling at him in spite of everything.” I wonder how many of us could continue on, feeling such as she did day in and day out for years. And yet, perhaps as a testimony to her eventual path to sainthood, her faith in the goodness of God and the teachings of Jesus allowed her to continue to be a leader for women, both in the sisterhood and laity.
At Saint Dominic Academy, it is always possible that we are shaping the creation of a future saint, but what is a certain fact is that each one of the women who passes through our doors as a student will go forward and make significant changes in the world around them. Our alumnae and our current students, regardless of whether the direction of their lives leads to comforting the dying on the streets of Calcutta, contribute in their own ways to better the lives of a myriad of people. The lessons of faith, love of God, and service to others instilled at Saint Dominic Academy leave a lasting impression and cannot help but shape the daily actions and interactions of our young ladies far into the future. Our mission clearly states “ we empower women for leadership in our global society.” This is our primary goal at SDA, one I think we achieve daily in the life lessons, both small and large that our faculty, administration and staff work to impart within the walls and halls of our school.
At SDA, every time we pray together as a school community, we call upon Saint Dominic and Saint Catharine of Siena to pray for us. This year, I will at times encourage our young ladies to pray to our newest saint, Saint Teresa; for guidance, for support and for assistance whenever they feel it is needed. For what better example could our young ladies see reach the status of Sainthood than Mother Teresa; who started out in her calling at the same age some of our young ladies are at right now and who dedicated her life to “helping people in their most difficult conditions and created a mission for religions and lay persons to follow in her footsteps.”