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Press Release: Mother Teresa, “The Ambassador of Love”

Those who have heard Mother Teresa speak attest that she is the communicator extraordinaire. This diminutive, humble, yet dynamic lady is known throughout the world for her love of the poor and destitute. She became my guide on a special odyssey when I gazed with wonderment into her penetrating eyes, hardly able to believe t was actually in her presence in Calcutta, India.

Why has she touched so many lives? Why was I so blessed and privileged to he there with her? I hungered for an insight into what makes Mother Teresa so beloved and revered by people of all persuasions.

Flight to Calcutta

I wanted to learn what makes her so fascinating. I watched her with the poor and the rich, dignitaries and common people. As I saw her with her nuns and saw her speak to each person she met, the solution to the mystery began to unfold. Her great gift is humility. She demonstrated it from the first moment I met her.

I had traveled to India with my brother, Monsignor John Esseff, a priest in the Diocese of Scranton, PA. He was to conduct a retreat for Mother Teresa and her Sisters in Calcutta. I could hardly contain my excitement during the 26 hour flight. On entering the airline terminal, I was rendered speechless as I spotted Mother Teresa. She approached us with outstretched hands and a radiant smile.

Here was one of the most famous of women in the world, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. She could have sent someone else to pick us up, hut instead chose to come in person. Then she began hoisting our luggage into the dilapidated ambulance which was to be our transportation. I was bowled over!

As we rode with her to her Motherhouse she pointed out the devastating effects that poverty and hunger create in Calcutta. I was horrified at the sight of emaciated shells of human beings barely able to walk. They ambled aimlessly along filthy disease infested streets. I will never forget the smell. Little naked children begged for food, Lepers approached our truck hoping to get alms. I began crying. These scenes are etched into my soul.

Mother Teresa told me to stop crying, for these unfortunates had enough misery. She told me they needed smiles, not tears. Their pinched faces turned from dour to radiant when Mother Teresa smiled at them. She reached out to touch them, giving them consolation and hope.

Her gentleness with the sick and dying is a quality I so admire. She makes each one feel that they are special. Mother and her nuns go out into the streets daily and bring as many as possible to the hospital. Food cooked by the sisters and volunteers is given out until it is gone. Then they pray to God to send food enough for the next day. Each day we watched in amazement as the larders were replenished for that day’s needs. She has total trust in the Lord to provide.

More Blessed to Give

Mother never has fund raisers. She asks that God put the desire in people’s hearts to help, then they will share what they have. It breaks her heart to see countries such as the United States waste so much.

Once when speaking at a banquet for the Knights of Columbus she looked at the grand ballroom with its elegant chandeliers, opulent decor, and gourmet dinners being sewed. She told the audience that the exorbitant cost of this evening would feed thousands of her poor. The Knights were so touched, they matched the cost of the dinner, and donated it for her work.

Miracle in Beirut

She speaks honestly from her heart. No gimmicks, no rehearsed gestures. My brother was in Beirut for four years helping refugees and orphans. I le worked with the Missionaries of Charity and through them met Mother Teresa. Monsignor John shared a story about how her prayers brought miraculous results.

Beirut was in the midst of a horrendous war, shelled and bombed relentlessly. Many were homeless. Mother Teresa heard of retarded children left behind to die. She approached President Jamail of Lebanon to ask for permission to cross the Green Line to rescue them. He told her it was too dangerous. “If the war stops, may I go in after them?” she asked. He agreed, though he knew it was impossible.

She gathered her nuns around her in the Chapel and prayed all night. Suddenly the noise of the bombing stopped. She rushed to call President Jamail. “May I go for the children now?”

He not only allowed her to go, hut sent several Red Cross trucks, personnel and equipment with them to rescue the children. They found 64 retarded children, half starved, crying. They cleaned them up and got them aboard the trucks. As they crossed back over the Green Line, the shelling and bombing resumed.

“Just Good Boys”

My brother witnessed her powers of communication and loving persuasion when he went to Ethiopia with Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, accompanied by an entourage of hierarchy and film crew from the United States. Their mission was to check conditions and to send aid from the Mission Societies to the starving people. At Adclis Ababa they discovered the trip by land to the Famine Center was not possible. they would have to fly.

The Russian pilots, learning that these were hated Americans, became angry. They did nut want the famine area filmed. They refused to help.

It was hopeless

Then my brother spotted Mother Teresa and several of her Sisters. As he watched she went directly to the Russian pilots and spoke to them in Russian (She is of Slavonic descent). Mother Teresa took some medals of the Virgin Mary from her pocket. Then this tiny lady reached up to the big, fierce, atheist Communist soldiers and placed a medal over each one’s head, while asking God to bless them.

The Russians began to smile and react to her love. Within minutes, the Cardinal. my brother and the rest of their group were aboard the plane and taking off down the runway.

Her simplicity and love cut through the hatred and barriers. Her title of ‘Mother fits her. She did not see them as young soldiers or communists. She remarked to the group as they boarded the plane, “They are nice boys.”

The Opportunity of Love

Mother Teresa’s persuasive powers lie in her ability to tell people simply that she is giving THEM the opportunity of serving God’s poor, who to her are not pathetic, but treasured brothers and sisters. To watch her as she gently cares for the retarded is edifying. They respond, smile, feel special.

Whoever meets her, regardless of their language, religious beliefs or mental capabilities, understand her love. She is real, simple, direct. Each word she speaks is so filled with unconditional love that people are drawn to that light that emanates from Mother Teresa. Her heart is joyful. Her mission of love brings to everyone she meets the Face of God.

Marlene says, “My life has been enriched more than I could have ever hoped. Watching Mother Teresa in the streets of Calcutta, in the wretched slums of the Bronx, in the miserable poverty of Tijuana, I saw her selflessly give of herself to the poor. She stirred in my heart a desire to emulate this ‘Saint of the Gutters.”

Mother Teresa, the gentle persuader is the little pen in the hand of God. She writes her message of love indelibly upon her listeners’ hearts.

Ed note: When a friend met Mother Teresa, he noted that she is bent far over from the arthritis in her back. He told her he was so sorry. She replied, “I am grateful that God lets me he bent over so that I can be closer to those souls in the gutters of the world, who need me.