Embracing poverty and simple faith, Mother Teresa is lovingly referred to as the "Saint of the Gutters." A Noble Peace Prize recipient and the model for interfaith understanding, on Sunday, September 4, she will be canonized at the Vatican.
Two members of the University community, alumna Maureen Creagh-Kaiser '95/M.A.'98/Ph.D.'03 and Religion Professor Ines Angeli Murzaku, shared their insights and experiences of the beloved saint.
"I can say it is truly a blessing to have a woman like her become a saint, someone who truly embodies that the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is prayer. Her acts of kindness really are the embodiment of love," said Creagh-Kaiser, who met Mother Teresa in June 1997, just three months before her passing.
While at the International Institute for Clergy Formation at Seton Hall, she accompanied the late Monsignor Andrew Cusack, Institute director, when he was invited to the Missionaries of Charity in the Bronx. He was invited to give a private Mass and Monsignor Joseph Reilly served as Mass co-celebrant. Mother Theresa established the Missionaries of Charity to serve "the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind… all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society."
"It was an absolutely amazing experience," said Creagh-Kaiser. "She was such a magical person to be around and to be in her presence. You could literally feel her spirit within you."
Creagh-Kaiser, for a time, stood next to Mother Teresa, who gave her a medal and addressed her, simply. "She really said, 'May the spirit be with you.' It was one of those empowering situations where you truly feel God's presence."
That attitude of experiencing the world with love, kindness and a smile proved transformative.
"Meeting Mother Teresa served as a stepping stone personally and professionally," noted Creagh-Kaiser, who now serves as a counseling psychologist and utilizes spirituality, religiosity and career development in her practice.
She has been inspired to help people manifest healthy relationships and care for each other's welfare. These fruits of her meeting with Mother Teresa have proven to be of great service in her work with her students at Seton Hall, in her private practice and with the psychological assessments she does for women who feel the calling to become nuns.
Ines Angeli Murzaku, professor of ecclesiastical history, feels a strong connection to Mother Teresa; they both came from Albania.
"Mother Teresa left her native Scopje, her closely-knit family, friends and her church community, to take a vow of poverty and service and embark into a life-long mission to serve the poorest of the poor," said Murzaku.
Mother Teresa said that if she ever became a saint, she would surely be one of darkness.
"Undergoing a dark night of the soul, doubt and absence of God made her a more down-to-earth and reachable saint," said Murzaku. "With a universal mission of love, Saint Mother Teresa will continue to inspire by her simple and rudimentary faith, blissfully serving the world's poorest of the poor, and expecting nothing in return."
A CNN International interview, Mother Teresa's Road to Sainthood, with Professor Murzaku will be broadcast Sept. 2 at 5:30 a.m., Sept. 3 at 2:30 and 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., and Sept. 4 at 1:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. She is also a keynote speaker discussing Mother Teresa's life and service during a program organized by the New York State Assembly and the Albanian community.
Categories: Faith and Service