On Sept. 4, 2016, we landed in Rome with just one hour to get from the airport to St. Peter’s Square.
After arriving in Vatican City, we had to follow a path and go through security. We got lost many times, but we somehow managed to get in. By the time we made it past security, Mass had just started.
What was so important that we would travel all the way to Italy for a two-day trip during the school year?
We were pilgrims from New Orleans, patiently waiting for St. Teresa of Calcutta to be declared a saint in St. Peter’s Square. We were there, standing in a crowd of more than 300,000 people.
Pope Francis said in Latin: “After due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a saint, and we enroll her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole church.”
Everyone around us broke out into applause before Pope Francis could complete the formula for canonization. We had waited for weeks to hear him say those words.
The impact Mother Teresa has had on our family is amazing! She cared for those who were left to die on the side of the road, seeing their God-given dignity.
She taught us to always show respect to everyone, no matter who they are or what they look like.
She also taught us how to be compassionate with one another. If we don’t show love to others, how will they know if anyone cares about them?
Mother Teresa said: “If we judge someone, you have no time to love someone.”
We often judge homeless people, but there are always two sides to every story. Mother Teresa didn’t care how they looked or how nasty they were. She saw goodness in them, and that’s what we should look for in all people.
While we were exploring Rome, we bought a few rosaries for our teachers and a prayer card that will remind us that Mother Teresa will always be with us.
Our favorite parts of the trip were the canonization ceremony and walking through the Holy Door, which is only opened every 25 years. Walking through the Holy Door was a big deal because, to us, it symbolizes our hearts and how they should always be open to Jesus.
As we boarded the plane home, we reflected on our pilgrimage to Rome and prayed to St. Teresa, thanking her for being with us on this trip.
The Nguyen sisters – seventh grader Gabrielle and sixth grader Isabelle – attend Our Lady of Prompt Succor School in Chalmette. They traveled to Rome with their parents, Jennie and Danny Nguyen. It was the students’ second trip to that city, the first taken in 2014 for the canonization of St. John Paul II.