By Peggy Weber
I was blessed at age 27 to attend a press conference with Mother Teresa. You can see me in my mint green dress on the left. I have on a red ribbon and still wear my hair the same way. The photo is from Marquette’s archives and my daughter, Elizabeth, found it.
Soon-to-be St. Teresa was amazing. I recalled the experience in an article for The Catholic Observer in 1985, when she was visiting the Diocese of Springfield.
I still cannot believe I asked her about her retirement plans. But I will always remember her kindness, her eyes and her smile.
Enjoy this article from the archives and enjoy my photos from a day long ago that I remember quite well.
FROM THE CATHOLIC OBSERVER
“Strong, clear, loving blue eyes. That’s what I think of and remember best from my meeting with Mother Teresa of India four years ago.
I was working for the Catholic Herald newspaper in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when it was announced the famous missionary would visit the Midwest and be given an award from Marquette University. I was assigned to cover the award’s Mass and attend the press conference.
In preparation for the event,, I began reading all about the Yugoslavian girl who joined an Irish order, taught in India and then began her own order which serves the poor and dying. Her work and reputation were so impressive that I was not prepared to see a tiny, frail little woman walk into Mass.
But even in her ‘little way’ she radiated strength. All during Mass, people were taking pictures of her (me too) but she didn’t look around. She was there to pray and communicate with her Master. She did give one big smile though, when two young Indian children were part of the Offertory procession.
Later she admitted that she didn’t like having her picture taken. She said she offered it up for the souls in purgatory. The with a grin she added, ‘I must have helped a lot of souls today.’
When laughter filled those incredible eyes, I thought to myself –now I know what it means to see Christ in another human being. She was magnificent. She was demure, aging and a foreigner, but she was witty, serene and strong. She held firm when reporters hounded her about her pro life stand and she said, ‘abortion is the greatest poverty a nation can experience.’
She showed so much love when she asked her listeners to discover that the poor and dying are somebody, too. She never wavered in her stands on church issues yet she also was so calm and forgiving.
When it was my turn to ask a question I couldn’t think of anything ‘tough’ to ask her. Most of the ‘good stuff’ had been used by the secular reporters but I wanted to speak with her. So I asked her about her future plans for herself and her order. (She was 70-years-old then). I can’t recall her answer exactly, but I do remember that she smiled at me and I looked into her eyes and if at that moment she had asked me to come to India to work I would have said yes. There I was trying to be an objective reporter but she was so impressive. And the beauty in her magnificence is that she doesn’t really think it’s a big deal. After all, she is just doing what God asks of us, to love one another.”