On Her 100th Birthday — Fond Memories of “One of the Greatest Missionaries of the Twentieth Century”
By Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle
I don’t think anything could have prepared me for my first encounter with Mother Teresa “one of the greatest missionaries of the twentieth century,” as Pope John Paul II called her. It’s a good thing that the moment I met her was totally unanticipated, because it left me no time to worry about what to say or do when suddenly face-to-face with a “saint!”
I didn’t first run into Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India among the dying she was known to serve at Nirmal Hriday (Pure Heart) where those in their last moments lie on simple mats, lovingly attended to by the Missionaries of Charity Sisters. I didn’t visit with Mother Teresa at the Motherhouse where she spent much time at 54 A Lower Circular Road in Calcutta — that address that became instantly recognizable to me every time I spotted it on the corner of the envelopes of the letters I would later receive from her.
No, I first met the “saint of the gutters” in the capital of one of the richest nations in the world. I found her “by chance” in Washington, DC. Mother Teresa was visiting her Sisters and helping to care for the terminally ill cancer and AIDS patients lying on simple beds in their “Gift of Peace” home at the convent located in a poorer section of that great city and command center of the U.S. government.
|Me with Mother Teresa about 23 years ago |
when I was pregnant with my son, Joseph