by Tony Magliano
Allow me to share with you one of the highpoints of my life – a short, yet deeply enriching
encounter with a saint.
Nearly 30 years ago, I worked at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington’s emergency food warehouse. Missionaries of Charity sisters caring for HIV/AIDS patients at their Gift of Peace House in Washington, D.C. use to regularly stop by for food assistance.
Since I helped with food distribution, I got to know the sisters. One day while picking up food, one of the sisters said to me, “Mother is coming.” I said, “Do you mean Mother Teresa?” She said, “Yes.” I excitedly replied, “May I come?” And she said, “yes.”
A few days later, standing in front of the Gift of Peace House with about 20 other guests, I saw Mother Teresa get out of a car and walk towards the house. Immediately the sisters affectionately ran to greet her.
Then, as we stood in a circle, Mother Teresa began to walk to each guest silently placing a Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Mother in each of our hands.
I remember she seemed to keep her head humbly bowed as she approached each of us. But when she reached me, I said to her “Namaste” – which is the normal greeting in Hindi.
Lifting up her head, and looking at me somewhat surprised, she greeted me back saying “Namaste.”
Then I said to her in Hindi, “Kaise hain?” Inquiring, how are you? And she replied, “Theek” which means OK.
Having exhausted my Hindi vocabulary, my brief encounter with Mother Teresa of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) had ended. But the personal experience of conversing with a living saint continues to spiritually enrich my life to this day.
In a few days, on Sept. 4, Pope Francis will canonize Mother Teresa – officially designating her as one of the saints of the Catholic Church.
Imperfect like all of us, yet holier than the vast majority of us, Mother Teresa truly exemplified what it means to pick up one’s cross and follow Jesus.