2nd Mother Teresa Church Opens, in Tamil Nadu

Thanks in Part to Donations From Non-Catholics

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MADURAI, India, JUNE 8, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Diocese of Sivagangai unveiled the world’s second church named after Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

The church, built with donations from faithful of a number of religions, is expected to be a major Catholic pilgrimage center in the country.

The Mother Teresa Church was inaugurated May 29 in the village of Malvalayanvayal, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Priests, nuns and individuals of other faiths were among those who attended the ceremony at which Bishop Edward Francis presided.

«This is a church that is the epitome of the love and charity that Blessed Mother Teresa symbolized,» said Bishop Francis, 75.

Church officials noted that the new church is the second dedicated to Mother Teresa in India.

The first was inaugurated Oct. 19, 2003, in Venniyode, in Kerala, the day the founder of the Missionaries of Charity was beatified by Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.

Electrifying effect

Father Arul Singarayar, parish priest of Our Lady of Mercy Church of Andavoorani, who directed the construction of the Mother Teresa Church in the Tamil Nadu village of Malvalayanvayal, said that it is a dream come true for the village.

The priest explained that poor villagers, most of whom work as common laborers, approached him two years ago, giving him money to build a church of their own.

Father Singarayar asked the diocese to contribute 40,000 rupees toward the construction cost and the villagers soon began building the chapel. However, they were unable to complete it as the funds ran out.

So the priest had the idea of dedicating the new church to Blessed Mother Teresa.

«It had an electrifying effect,» he said. «As the word spread that the church would be named after Mother Teresa, people of all faiths came with donations to construct» it.

The newly consecrated chapel is situated about six kilometers from the Andavoorani parish, which has a Catholic population of 4,000, spread over 22 substations.

Villagers are thrilled that they now have a chapel of their own.

«We are excited that we have a church of our own,» said parishioner K. Arulswamy. «We are lucky also that our church is named after Mother Teresa. We are proud to be the parishioners of the Mother Teresa Church.»

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