BY MOST REV. DENIS CHIDI ISIZOH Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha Archdiocese
Onitsha, 2 February, 2017
L-R: Father (now Bishop) Denis Isizoh, St Mother Teresa & Cardinal Arinze
It was in mid-August 1997 that I accompanied Cardinal Arinze for one week official visit to India: Ranchi, Guwahati, Shillong, and Calcutta. One of the important locations I found myself was 54A, A.J.C. Bose Road, Kolkata 700016 – the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity.
When we arrived there early in the morning, we were taken upstairs to the chapel. It was a large room with the altar and sanctuary in the middle. Three priests would concelebrate: Cardinal Arinze, Priest Chaplain of the Sisters and me. Except for the three simple chairs for the concelebrants, there were no pews, no seats for the whole congregation. Every person sat on the bare floor. At one corner of the Chapel was the simplest of all women in the room, a lady “beautiful for God”, Mother Teresa. She was on a wheelchair, very recollected.
After Mass and meditation, we all came out to the corridor for exchange of pleasantries. It struck me that the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity, which was a massive edifice with three/four floors, did not have pipe borne water and taps. Every Sister must come out to fetch water downstairs for her use upstairs. Holy Mother Teresa explained that poor people “do not have taps in their rooms”. We were invited to have breakfast with Mother. Softly but with great lucidity and passion, she explained to us the work of her Sisters, and her desire to send them to Russia. She was full of fire for the Lord. She did not actually eat. And we followed her example! Only when we left her presence did I realize that we did not eventually take the breakfast which the Sisters offered us.
When she was beatified and later canonized, I had the special joy of knowing that I CONVERSED WITH AND TOUCHED A SAINT.