Mother Teresa: Her Spirit Lives On

Dear Friend,

Four years ago, I had the honor of being present with my family in Rome for the beatification of Mother Teresa. It was a privileged moment when the universal Church recognized the founder of the Missionaries of Charity for a life lived in service to the poorest of the poor, and for the example she left to us all.

As we mark the 10th anniversary of her passing, I join the nearly 5,000 employees of CRS in expressing our deepest gratitude for the many years of friendship and collaboration we shared with Mother Teresa. Her spirit lives on in the partnership we share with the Missionaries of Charity in virtually every country in which we both work.

CRS' involvement with Mother Teresa goes back to the earliest days of her ministry in Calcutta, India. Shortly after she founded the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa was looking for a way to transport the gravely ill and dying people lying on the streets of the city to her hospital. And we were able to help. The archives of CRS India from the early 1950s provide this account:

Mother Teresa was given permission by the Calcutta authorities to open a hospital for the dying in one of the more crowded sections of this most populous city. Through a private gift, supplemented by help from Catholic Relief Services-N.C.W.C. [National Catholic Welfare Council], she has now been given an ambulance which her sari-wearing sisters use to pick up the dying bodies of the destitute who are brought to her 'Hospital of the Immaculate.'

Mother Teresa's vision of loving service and her affirmation of the unassailable sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person touched the most destitute and vulnerable people of our world. In his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), Pope Benedict XVI held up Mother Teresa as an exemplar of the proper attitude of Christian charity. He wrote:

Those who work for the Church's charitable organizations must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely meet the needs of the moment, but they dedicate themselves to others with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience the richness of their humanity.

We will always fondly recall the one opportunity that Mother Teresa had to visit our CRS headquarters in Baltimore. She came in May 1996, and was only scheduled for a stop of several minutes. She stayed for over an hour. And she left us with this note, which hangs on the wall outside my office:

I thank you all for the love you have always given to me to give to our poorest of the poor. Please pray for us as we do daily for you in Catholic Relief Services. God bless you. M Teresa MC

Mother Teresa's memory continues to inspire all of us committed to serving those in need to act with care, respect and humility.

Thank you for your continued support and your prayers,

Ken Hackett

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