September 9, 2016, Rome – Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), attended the September 4, 2016, canonization of Mother Teresa, as an official representative of the President Barack Obama.
“I’m very humbled to be asked by the President to represent him and the U.S. on this occasion,” Sister Donna said. “Mother Teresa did so much to call attention to the plight of the poorest of the poor, and now it is our responsibility to continue that ministry as we work to change the systems that have resulted in this suffering of the most vulnerable.”
Others in the U.S. presidential delegation were Carolyn Woo, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS); Kenneth Hackett, U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican; Hon. Suzanne George, Special Assistant to the President for National Security; and Lisa Monaco, Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security. The group traveled from Andrews Air Force Base on a military jet and were met by police escort at Ciampino Airport in Rome.
The Mass was celebrated by Pope Francis at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square, where Sister Donna said the Presidential Delegation was seated in the diplomat section, on the level with the altar and across from cardinals and bishops.
“The liturgy was moving and quite beautiful, including Taize and Gregorian chant, all with the antiphonal singing between the choir and the people,” she said. The group was seated in the hot sun on a 95-degree day for the 90-minute canonization liturgy, she added.
Sister Donna was impressed by the energy of Pope Francis, who took time after the Canonization Liturgy to greet some of the bishops and then rode through the crowd of 120,000 people. “After that, he threw a pizza party for the homeless of Rome,” she noted.
Born in 1910 in what is now Skopje, Macedonia, Mother Teresa joined the Sisters of Loreto and, while teaching and later serving as principal in Calcutta, India, she felt the call to serve the sick, destitute, and dying of Calcutta. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in the Archdiocese of Calcutta and, until her death on September 5, 1997, directed her order and continued her service to those most in need.
Through the canonization process, the Catholic Church declares that Mother Teresa has lived a life of heroic virtue and is worthy of imitation and veneration by members of the universal Church.
Feature photo: Carolyn Woo (left), President of Catholic Relief Services, and Sister Donna Markham, OP, wait to board a military jet for Rome to attend the Canonization of Mother Teresa.
February 5, 2016, Washington, DC – It seems to be common knowledge in the U.S. these days that the two sides of the Congressional aisle – Democrats and Republicans – will never come together and agree on anything. That was proven false on the evening of February 3, when Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Speaker of the House; Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Leader, and some 70 Congressional leaders came together with Catholic Charities USA to discuss what can be done to help people who are most in need.
With those present at a planned reception at the Capitol, Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), said she took the opportunity to discuss “how we might work together on poverty alleviation, criminal justice, and mental health issues.” She offered the services of Catholic Charities to “be ‘Switzerland’ and invite both sides to address what we might do to help the most vulnerable among us.” She was gratified that everyone in the room spoke together about ways to help those most in need.
Sister Donna, former Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, is the first female president and CEO of CCUSA. CCUSA is a national network of 164 local agencies that serve their local community through such means as providing shelter for the homeless, feeding the hungry, welcoming refugees, and meeting the needs of the vulnerable population.