Mother Teresa accepted the “Mater et Magistra Award” from College of Mount St. Joseph in 1974.
Someone Beautiful for God
On Sunday, Sept. 4, the world celebrated the canonization of Saint Teresa of Kolkata. She is most remembered for her selfless charity, ministering amongst the poorest of the poor, and her ability to inspire kindness and compassion. The excitement of her canonization prompted a few Sisters of Charity to take a look back at their experiences with the Church’s newest saint, who long before her canonization caused many to believe this day would eventually come.
Mother Teresa made the first of three visits to Cincinnati to promote her work for the poor in 1974 - five years before she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; she was to be awarded the “Mater et Magistra Award” from College of Mount St. Joseph, given in honor of Pope John XXIII. The award was established by former college president Sister of Charity Maria Corona Molloy in 1964 and recognized women who influenced the practice of social justice at either the national or international level.
The citation read in part: “For her untiring work on behalf of the poor, the unwanted, and the sick … and for embodying Christian love in action, the College of Mount St. Joseph on the Ohio presents the Mater et Magistra Award to Mother Teresa of Calcutta … ‘Someone Beautiful for God.’”
Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Loretto Burke, who was chairman of the music department and managed the college’s theater at the time, remembered standing backstage with Mother Teresa.
“I remember how short she was. We had to put a little box under her. Otherwise she couldn’t reach the microphone,” S. Loretto said. “She said it was necessary to be faithful to whatever your calling is - raising a family or a religious order.”
In recollection Sister continued: “I’ve met some very big celebrities, but Mother Teresa is the most memorable person I’ve ever met. My impression was she knew her mission in life and was spreading the values by which she lived.”
S. Ramona Chisholm with the framed letter she received from Mother Teresa in 1991.
A Special Correspondence
The year before she re-entered the Sisters of Charity, S. Ramona Chisholm wrote to Mother Teresa, saying how much she admired her books, and also informing her that she would be entering the Sisters of Charity the following year. Never did she think she would receive a response! A typed letter – dated December 30, 1990 - arrived one day reading:
Dear Ramona Chisholm,
This brings God’s blessing and my prayer that you will be His Presence and His Compassion to His people – especially to those you live and work with. I am glad to hear you are going to enter the Sisters of Charity and pray that you do it with one strong desire – to be only all for Jesus through Mary. Have that one conviction that nothing and no body can separate you from the love of Christ. Prefer nothing and no one to His love and satiate His thirst to love you and to be loved by you by giving your whole life to Him as a religious. May the love, the peace and the joy that Jesus, Mary and Joseph shared in the Holy Family, fill your family too during this Christmas season and in 1991! God bless you.
It was signed M Teresa MC. Today the letter is framed and kept as a treasured item of S. Ramona’s. She said she knew one day this woman would be a saint, and she wanted to take good care of the loving note she received from her.
While we continue to celebrate the legacy and sainthood of Mother Teresa, we see in these simple encounters her true devotion to her call to serve God’s people; her words and actions inspire today.