Arlington's first Albanian Mass celebrated by Mother Teresa's biographer

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More than 100 members of the Albanian community came to St. John the Beloved Church in McLean to attend Arlington’s first Albanian Mass Oct. 15. Some came from as far as New York to attend the Mass, which was celebrated by Father Lush Gjergji, a biographer and friend to the newly canonized St. Teresa of Kolkata. The Albanian priest also spoke at the Library of Congress Oct. 14 promoting the message of Mother Teresa.

“I condensed in a presentation what I have written in 16 books about Mother Teresa,” said Father Gjergji. “But today is the peak of my activities because the Mass is the summit of it all.” 

“It’s a thanksgiving Mass for having the opportunity to introduce Mother Teresa to the parish here. She always wanted to go up to the poorest of the poor, and she learned this giving nature in Albania from her mother.”

The Mass also was attended by some of Mother Teresa’s family from Albania. Nikoleta Bucaj, Mother Teresa’s first cousin, attended with her husband Gjon, son Edward and daughter Nora.

“It’s a thanksgiving Mass for having the opportunity to introduce Mother Teresa to the parish here,” said Edward Bucaj. “She always wanted to go up to the poorest of the poor, and she learned this giving nature in Albania from her mother.”

According to Merita McCormack, a parishioner of St. John the Beloved, many of those who attended the Mass and reception were not Catholic.

“We are a strong community and we attend each other’s feasts,” said McCormack. “But hopefully seeds will be planted here today.”

After Mass, everyone was invited to a reception in the parish center, Floreta Faber, the Albanian ambassador to the United States, said a few words thanking Father Gjergji for his work.

“Apart from being an exceptional scholar on Mother Teresa’s work, he has been working with the government to recognize Kosovo as an independent state,” she said. She went on to say that a lot of people are surprised to find out that Mother Teresa was Catholic because Albania is generally thought of as a Muslim country. 

“What is important to us is to give a little on what Albanians are,” she said, ending with the words of Mother Teresa, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016