Over the last few days, a wonderful Sister, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, has claimed world headlines. On 4th September 2016, Pope Frances declared her a saint. From very humble beginnings, Mother Teresa has made an enormous difference to the world. In the 1950’s, in India, with twelve followers, she founded the “Missionaries of Charity” who vowed to serve the “poorest of the poor”. Her Order now numbers 5000 Sisters, Brothers, Priests, who care for the poor throughout the world.
I had the great privilege of seeing Mother Teresa three times. I believe it was in the 1960’s that she came to Worthing. A friend of ours, Bunty Watts, a co-worker of Mother Teresa, invited us to meet her. Mother Teresa’s goodness shone through and we were determined to do all we could to help her work for the poor. At The Towers, we collected dozens of blankets to send to India, and Sponsored Walks were instigated almost annually, some of the profits going to Mother Teresa’s poor. Some years later, coach loads of Mother Teresa’s poor from London would come to The Towers to enjoy a good lunch, dancing on the lawn, and then visit the seaside!
In 1974, Mother Teresa came to Guildford Cathedral to meet young people. I took a minibus of Upper V girls to meet her. (They never let me forget that inadvertently, I drove through a red filter light at West Grinstead on the way home!) The cathedral was packed with young people, and at the end of her talk, Mother Teresa asked for questions. She told of how on her way home from a conference she had heard a destitute person crying for help. It was a moment of decision. Should she continue on her way, or go back to help? She went back to help – a defining moment- and Mother Teresa and the world were never the same again.
The third time I saw Mother Teresa was when we were invited to London to see her awarded the Templeton Prize by Prince Philip, but there were so many people there that we did not have the opportunity to speak to her.
The aim of Mother Teresa’s life was, in her words, to do “something beautiful for God”. She most certainly did. There have been criticisms of her work. Some complain about the lack of hygiene in the early days. One must remember that things were so different in the 1950’s and she had little or no money to fund her work. But what Mother Teresa did was worlds away from being eaten by maggots in the gutter! What Mother Teresa most gave people was love, care, time, and her work, still greatly needed, continues to this day. S.M.Andrew
Below is an interview Sister Mary Andrew gave on Radio Sussex on the 4th September:
Below are two cine films from the Towers Convent Archive, taken when Mother Teresa visited during the 1970’s: