Memories of ‘Blessed’ Mother Teresa, the Saint of the Gutters
“By blood I am Albanian by birth, an Indian by Citizenship, and as to my calling I belong to the world. From childhood, the heart of Jesus Christ has been my first love”- Mother Teresa
Mangaluru: My memories goes back to those two years, 1986 when I had close encounters with Pope John Paul II when he had visited Bajpe, and 1995 when I was just a feet away from Mother Teresa when she had come down to the City for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations at St. Agnes College. That was the greatest moments in my life having the glimpse of two religious world humanitarians and figures. Another thing that makes me proud is that both, the Pope and Mother Teresa have been canonized to as Saints. It feels like I met the ” Living Saints” then.
During Pope John Paul II visit to Bajpe on February 6, 1986, me and my friends had camped a day earlier near the venue where the Papal was to deliver his speech and blessings, that was four years before I immigrated to US in 1990. Luckily we got the best place, and as the Pope was walking down the aisle on to the podium, I was just a feet away from him. We had best seats in the gathering, since I was a volunteer being in AICUF and CLC, and also that my friend Loy D’Souza and his dad did the catering (M D’Souza Caterers) for the event. I feel proud to say even today that I was so lucky to have a glimpse of the Pope so closely, thereby admiring his smiling face, his piercing blue eyes, his ruddy complexion, his rumbling voice with its thick accented English-and most of all receiving his blessings.
In 1995, I came down to Mangaluru on holidays, and I had the greatest opportunity to see Mother Teresa at a function at St. Agnes College, where I was invited by a family nun. I was seated right in front of her, and had the opportunity to shake hands with her, where she whispered “May God bless you,”. Mother Teresa has marked the history of our century. The last time I wrote an article on her, entitled “The Living Saint of Calcutta” was during my college days at St. Aloysius College, when I was then the editor of Co-Life Magazine. Once again it gives me immense pleasure to write this tribute column honoring a person whom I adored the most, the “blessed”Mother Teresa.
In my eyes, and in the eyes of millions everywhere, irrespective of nationality or religion, Mother Teresa has already been anointed a saint in her lifetime. It takes many, many years for someone to be confirmed as a Saint. For instance, Joan of Arc was declared a Saint, 489 years after her death. But in the case of Mother Teresa, it is one of the fastest-ever cases of Sainthood in recent centuries. This diminutive nun will become, even more than ever, a beacon in a world disheartened by difficulties and scandals and dazzled by consumerism. For in her humble and simple way she never passed a single day without the Mass that sustained her and entrusted her every action to her God.
It is learned that Mother Teresa was always proud of Mangalore, which is called the ” Rome of the East”. The Mother had visited four times to Mangalore during her lifetime-once each in 60’s and 70’s, and twice in 1995. There is a Church in Paldane dedicated to her. There is also a Mother Teresa Home in the City, on Sturrock Road. During one of her visits to Mangaluru, she had this message for the City, ” Peace and Happiness can survive in the world only through love”. We should all follow her teachings and spread the message of love and compassion.
Born on August 26, 1910 in Albania, she was named Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, but her parents called her ” Gonxha”, which means in Albanian language as ” flower bud” because she was plumpy and pink. She became a active member of Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Albania, and the same Sodality which she joined in the Entally Convent in Kolkata. She came to kolkata, India at the young age of 18, and started serving the poor and the destitute, thereby making kolkata her humble service centre. She was called the ” Saint of the Gutters” because of her selfless service, love and care for the homeless, destitute, downtrodden and the sick. She became the Citizen of India in the year 1948.
Taking her first vows on May 24, 1931, to become as a Sister of Loreto at a convent in Kolkata, she was called Sr. Teresa. During that time she saw all the poverty and suffering of the people in Kolkata where she started her life of dedication, devotion and loving care to serve those who had no support to look for, and she started the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa had proved that helpless and distressed people can return love and affection to all. For her social service and her selfless work, Mother Teresa has received several national and International awards namely: Bharath Ratna Award, the Magasaysay Award in 1962, the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971, John F Kennedy International Award in 1971, and Noble Peace Prize in 1979. article
I end this tribute article with the words of wisdom, words of love, and the words of Mother Teresa – ” We can do no great things, only small things with great love. It is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do. From my childhood, the heart of Jesus has been my first love. If you have a heart to love, two hands to serve, then you don’t need ant training for this work. Just listen to the loving message of God “. With these thought-provoking words from the ” Mother”, let us all strive to put smiles on the faces of the poor and the needy. Let us make a difference in their lives, and this would be the most befitting to Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa passing away left a void not just in Kolkata, but the entire humanity. While she is canonized as a Saint today, I hereby respectfully offer my prayers, love and gratitude to a great soul, because she lived a life serving the poor and terminally ill who had no hopes and help. She had captivated the whole world, becoming a Patron Saint of a difficult century. Like a great masterpiece of Sacred Heart, she was indeed something beautiful for God. We all should follow her footsteps and her teachings to make a difference in the society that we live in.
And on behalf of Team Mangalorean, I ask the “blessed” Mother/Saint for her blessings and prayers for all us here in Mangaluru, Dakshina Kannada, and around the nation, for better health and prosperity. And for the world, peace and harmony.