MAHANOY CITY -- Mother Teresa is now Saint Teresa of Calcutta and while the official ceremony took place at the Vatican, a full day of events were planned to celebrate St. Teresa in Schuylkill County, at a church named for the iconic nun who made helping the poor her mission.
A sweet song of faith could be heard along Mahanoy Street in Mahanoy City as children wearing blue and white made their way to the church now named for St. Teresa of Calcutta.
As neighbors filed into the church, they remembered Mother Teresa's visit in 1995.
“It was the same type of weather, the same type of excitement in the air. It was phenomenal,” said Ann Marie Richmond.
Memories of that day have always been sacred, but now that Mother Teresa has been elevated to sainthood they mean even more.
“They knew that they were in the presence of a saint. Isn’t it wonderful, 21 years and a few months later, to be able to celebrate that reality?” said Bishop John Barres of the Diocese of Allentown.
The church wasn’t the only place the saint was being celebrated. Houses were decorated with pictures and blue and white streamers.
Some people got up around 3 a.m. to watch the official ceremony in Vatican City and listen to the bells ring in Mahanoy City.
At the Mass to mark the canonization, the pews were packed, except for the spot where St. Teresa once sat.
Everyone we spoke to had a story of how she impacted their life. Holly Benner became inspired to become a missionary in Africa.
“Just the fact that she opened her heart to the poor and had so much faith in God and had no fear,” Benner said.
While St. Teresa may be celebrated around the world, to people in Mahanoy City she will always be a local hero.
“You can say, ‘I, a human of this era, have seen a saint,’ and in this little town of Mahanoy City,” Helen Digirolomo of Mahanoy City said.
Volunteers even came from out of state to help get the church ready for the Mass on Sunday.
After Mass, a dinner was held inside the newly named St. Teresa of Calcutta Church.