Mother Teresa Praised for Her Concern for the Poor

ARLINGTON — Mother Teresa’s Sept. 5 death in Calcutta brought forth a litany of praise from Washington area Catholics and pro-life leaders who recalled her heroic work in defense of the poor and unborn. "Many years ago, God called Mother Teresa to a life of service to the poorest of the poor," said Washington Cardinal James A. Hickey. "Today, God has called her home. How grateful we are to have had this remarkable woman among us." The cardinal offered a memorial Mass in honor of Mother Teresa on Sunday, Sept. 7, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity have a strong presence in the District of Columbia. Their Home for Infants in Northwest Washington assists mothers awaiting adoption. Gift of Peace home in Northeast Washington provides shelter for persons with AIDS and other terminal illnesses. A Southeast Washington convent helps unwed mothers and includes a soup kitchen and other community services. "Mother Teresa visited (Washington) many times, enthralling us with her wisdom, kindness and holiness," Cardinal Hickey said. "The Missionaries of Charity who help serve the needy of our area continue to remind us that together, we can do something beautiful for God. "Mother Teresa did what many priests, religious and lay people do throughout the world: serving the needy in the name of Christ," the cardinal said. "But God’s light shone through her in a special way, beaming brightly against the background of her simple, humble life." Father Franklyn M. McAfee, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Great Falls, serves as chaplain to two local convents of the Missionaries of Charity. He is spiritual director and a member of the Corpus Christi movement, which is a branch of the Missionaries of Charities for diocesan priests. He also has conducted retreats for the Sisters in Washington, New York and Central America. "Mother used to say, ‘Joy is like a net in which you catch souls,’" said Father McAfee. "Mother was an incredibly joyful woman, even when immersed in what others would look upon as depressing work. "But that happiness which we all crave, and which the world cannot provide, was hers in abundance because of her profound love of Christ in the disguise of the Eucharist." Father McAfee said Mother Teresa’s favorite hymn was "O What Could My Jesus Do More?" which sings in rather emotional terms of one’s love for Christ in the Eucharist. "I can hear Mother singing the last verse as she lay dying — ‘In Jesus triumphant I’ll live, in Jesus triumphant I’ll die, the terrors of death calmly brave, in His bosom breathe out my last sigh.’" "Mother Teresa was one of this century’s great, complete Christians," said Brother Patrick Ellis, F.S.C., president of Catholic University. "She lived the Gospel with a courage that was as dazzling as it was supernaturally inspired," he said. "She was a gift of God to our time, not only to those whom she and her followers directly helped, but to all the rest of us as she showed us the way." "There is no doubt that Mother Teresa has been, for all of us, a continual sign of the love of God," said Keith Fournier, president of Catholic Alliance. "She didn’t need to speak even a word. Her life, her humility, her courage and her purity spoke louder than any words. She was "a sacramental woman" who truly incarnated the Lord whom she served and with whom she now reigns," Fournier said. "The greatest tribute we can give to this saint of God is to take up her mission of life and love," he said. "Love for all men and women, born and unborn, elderly and young, healthy or infirm, wealthy or poor, simply because they are human and possess a dignity that should never be stripped away." "Through her selfless devotion to the poorest of the poor, Mother Teresa rightly came to be called a ‘living saint,’" said Kenneth F. Hackett, executive director of Catholic Relief Services, the official overseas relief and development agency of the U.S. Catholic bishops. "Her presence, wherever she traveled in the world, was noted with admiration, respect and warmth," he said. "Her work and words inspired all of us." Hackett said CRS officials had the unique opportunity during the past 40 years of meeting and working with Mother Teresa at her Calcutta home, as well as numerous other locations around the world. "Of the thousands of counterparts Catholic Relief Services has joined with, none has touched the world as Mother Teresa did," Hackett said. "Today we join with her many friends and supporters in mourning her death." Wanda Franz, president of the National Right to Life Committee, remembered Mother Teresa as a humble and diligent champion of the unborn. "She will be remembered for her words and work on behalf of the world’s unborn," Franz said. "The National Right to Life Committee is honored to have worked with her toward achieving our common goal of trying to protect all innocent human life." Copyright ?1997 Arlington Catholic Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.

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