RIPON – A documentary on the ministry of Mother Teresa with the poorest of the poor in Calcutta will be shown tonight at St. Patrick’s Church as the three-day Lenten Parish Mission continues.
The documentary film, which will be shown in the Parish Hall, follows the work of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta among the destitute and the dying in India during a span of 10 years. The nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity is now called Blessed following her beatification, a step toward sainthood.
Monday night, Father Joseph Illo’s talk on the theme, “Spirituality of Mother Teresa on the rosary,” focused on the life of the Blessed nun from her birth and childhood in Albania as a member of an upper middle-class and deeply devoted Catholic family to her religious calling.
She was given the name Agnes when she was born in Albania, “the only country in the world where God was outlawed,” and whose persecution of the church was considered the “most ferocious” and “most brutal” in the 20th century.
“This is where Mother Teresa was born,” said Father Illo Monday night to the faithful who packed the church on East Highway 120. Many of those who attended the first night of Lenten mission were parishioners from St. Anthony of Padua in Manteca.
Father Illo, who spent about a month in the mid-1990s working with Mother Teresa at her home for the destitute and the dying in Calcutta and who has given many spiritual talks for more than a decade to the Missionaries of Charity sisters throughout the world, remembered the humble nun as saying, “I never forget my own mother,” while talking about her childhood in Albania.
Other vignettes shared by Father Illo about Mother Teresa:
•She took the name Teresa when she became a nun after St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as the Little Flower of Jesus.
•When she founded her Missionaries of Charity, she chose as her sisters’ habit the white cotton sari with three blue stripes to identify themselves with the poorest of the poor. White is the color of the cloth worn by the poorest of the poor in India, and the type of cloth is all cotton which “gets wrinkled all the time.” The cloth for the nuns’ habits is woven by lepers “with no hand, some of them with no feet,” he said. These are lepers who live in a leper colony established by Mother Teresa.
•Mother Teresa started her Missionaries of Mercy order “in a little slum area,” and began teaching the children using a stick as pointer or pencil that she used to write on the dirt.
Father Illo also shared how he came down to his decision to travel to Calcutta and work with Mother Teresa. He had been spending a week in Tijuana on missionary work when he was urged bu his fellow missionaries to go to India. They told him, “You should go and see Mother Teresa while she is still alive.”
Arriving in Calcutta was an eye-opener for the former associate pastor of St. Anthony of Padua in Manteca where he was serving when he took the trip to India. If Tijuana looked like a Third World country, Calcutta was the “Fourth World,” he said.
Several materials – books and a CD – on the life and works of Mother Teresa, some of them offered free of charge, were made available to the faithful Monday night. More books will be available tonight as well for purchase. The mission, which begins at 7 p.m., will continue tonight and Wednesday night at St. Patrick Church, corner of East Highway 120 and Carrolton Road in Ripon.