Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 27, 2007
Stories of meeting Mother Teresa to be compiled into a book
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
When JoAnne Christie travelled around India last year, she kept encountering people who told her stories about Mother Teresa.
"When they told the stories the look on their faces was quite remarkable," Christie said. "Everyone's face shone."
Now Christie and co-editor John Jerome are compiling the stories about the famous nun so people can understand the impact she has had.
While in India, Christie visited Calcutta and the motherhouse for the Missionaries of Charity, the order Mother Teresa founded. She saw Christ's love in action in the faces of the women who worked there.
"It's hard to put in words that love that you see," she said. Though she never met Mother Teresa herself, she realized she was "getting a glimpse of her through all the nuns in Calcutta" and all the people who were sharing stories about her.
Upon her return, she met Jerome, a lay member of the Missionaries of Charity, and they decided to gather stories about Mother Teresa into a book.
So much variety
Word of mouth has spread about the project and stories are pouring in. They range from the humorous to the deeply poignant.
One of Christie's favourites concerns veteran Ottawa-area pro-life activist Frank Mountain as told by his wife Margaret. Three months before Mother Teresa was to speak at a massive September 1988 pro-life rally in Ottawa, the Mountains and their five children were in a car accident on their way to picket outside the Ottawa Civic Hospital.
Though everyone else in the family escaped with minor injuries, Frank broke his neck and has since remained a quadriplegic.
When September 1988 rolled around, the rally organizers arranged for Mother Teresa to make a surprise visit to Frank's hospital room.
"When Mother Teresa arrived, the place literally buzzed with excitement," Margaret writes. "The room quickly filled with doctors, nurses and other patients who could walk."
"She came immediately to Frank. When she spoke to us, it was as if there was no one else in the room."
"She told Frank that he had been specially chosen to share in Christ's passion. Being able to walk was a gift from God, but not being able to walk was also a gift from God."
Msgr. Pat Powers, now the rector of Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, recounted a conversation he had with Mother Teresa.
During her 1988 visit to Ottawa, Mother Teresa attended a dinner for her at the archbishop's residence. She told Powers about the Missionaries of Charity Fathers and listed them by name.
Powers realized Mother Teresa was inviting him to become a Missionary of Charity Father. "I could never become a Missionary of Charity father: I'm too fat to join your order," he told her. "She looked at me with the beautiful smile and twinkling eyes, 'If you joined my order, Father, you wouldn't be fat for long!'"
Christie has taken away several lessons from the stories she is collecting. One is the apparent absence of burnout or fatigue that often seems to plague people involved in Church-related work.
"If you are truly doing Christ's work you should be cheerful and happy."
She has also been challenged to give more. "The whole concept of service has left an impression on me . . . The experience of Mother Teresa made me look at service with different eyes and see the beauty of service in everyday life."
Anyone who would like to share his or her experience of Mother Teresa can contact Christie at firstname.lastname@example.org.