Tributes paid to Mother Teresa at UN event

Ambassadors to the UN from Albania, India, Macedonia and Italy spoke of the saint’s impact on their countries.

Friends, colleagues and ambassadors from countries most closely associated with Mother Teresa’s lifetime of ministry recounted the saint’s efforts during an event to mark her canonization.

The program titled, Leaving No One Behind: Mother Teresa’s Enduring Message for the International Community Today, was held on September 9th at the UN headquarters in New York.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, called St Teresa of Calcutta the human face of eternal hope who embodied the founding principles of the world body.

The saint offers an enduring example of what the UN can achieve, he said. Mother Teresa was perhaps the first person since St Francis of Assisi who was considered saintly by people of so many countries and religions, Archbishop Auzaadded.

Other presenters contrasted Mother Teresa’s diminutive stature with her can-do attitude. Alan Sears, president of ADF International, a co-sponsor of the event, said Mother Teresa used joy as a net to catch souls and demonstrated courage by giving up her anonymity to speak out for those who could not.

“She was completely normal and at the same time completely extraordinary,” said Fr Leo Maasburg, an Austrian who was a close friend of Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa never imposed her ego on others and her intention was to bring a little light to the darkness of the human condition, Fr. Maasburg added.

British author Kathryn Spink, who worked with Mother Teresa, traced the biographical details of the saint’s life and her persistent mission to minister with love to the unwanted and alone. Spink recalled Mother Teresa’s December 1985 “Miracle in Manhattan” where New York Governor Mario Cuomo granted her request to release dying prisoners to a hospice she established to care for people afflicted with AIDS.

“Mother Teresa was one of the most countercultural people of the 20th century,” said Fr Daniel Jones, associate professor of theology at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and a retreat leader for the Missionaries of Charity.

Ambassadors to the UN from Albania, India, Macedonia and Italy spoke of the saint’s impact on their countries.

Ambassador Besiana Kadare of Albania said that after Mother Teresa received international recognition for her work, the “quintessence of an unspoken drama” played out in her “unusual and rather tragic relationship with her country.” During the communist control of Albania before 1990, Mother Teresa’s “name was received in profound silence and she was not allowed to visit her mother and sister.”

It is a “sad paradox” that a woman who ministered to dying strangers in other countries “could not offer solace or comfort to her own mother before she died,” Kadare said.

In the years since the fall of communism, an airport, university and main square in the country’s capital have been named for Mother Teresa.

Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin of India said Mother Teresa was remembered and valued as “one of our own” and personified the Indian worldview, “All the world is our home and all humanity is our kin.” While most of India did not share her faith, she was considered a saint in India in her lifetime, he said. Sister Clare Roy, a Missionary of Charity in the Bronx, said Mother Teresa did not love from a distance and demonstrated a mother’s love and tenderness by leaving no one behind.

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