|Mother Teresa with one of Donna-Marie's children.|
February 15, 2010. There are not many women who can
say that their lives and families have been illuminated by
a friendship with a saint of Mother Teresa’s stature. Donna-Marie
Cooper O’Boyle can.
Her most recent book, Mother Teresa and
Me: Ten Years of Friendship (published by Circle Press),
tells the story of a friendship that unfolded in her
life as an unexpected gift, bringing blessings of spiritual growth
to her entire family and to the people she went
on to serve in her many apostolates.
It is a
book well worth reading, full of personal words of advice
from Blessed Mother Teresa, and sprinkled with stories of the
many miracles, small and great, that flow from a life
of authentic prayer and surrender to Jesus.
The start of a
It all began with a hug. Donna-Marie and her three
small children were attending Mass at the Missionaries of Charity
convent in Washington, DC. When Mother Teresa saw her six-year-old
daughter Chaldea making her little genuflection before Jesus in the
Eucharist, she swooped down on the child (who was about
her height) to embrace her.
|One of Mother Teresa's letters to Donna-Marie.|
Later, as the family stood outside
the chapel, Mother Teresa appeared again and greeted the young
American family. As they were chatting, the two-year old Jessica
squirmed out of her mother’s arms and “made a beeline
for the nun.” To Donna-Marie’s astonishment, Mother Teresa and the
child held hands and simply gazed at each other for
a long time.
“That was when Mother Teresa told me
that Jessica might become a sister of the Missionaries of
Charity one day,” writes Donna-Marie.
That was also the day a
friendship was born. Over the years, Donna-Marie wrote letters to
Calcutta, sharing personal situations, including some heavy crosses and trials.
Mother Teresa always wrote back in her carefully typed letters,
written on the same antique typewriter.
For Donna-Marie, each of
those 21 letters—and the handful of personal meetings that followed—
was a beacon of hope, an encouragement on her own
|Mother Teresa and Jessica gaze at each other.|
path toward holiness.
A mission to encourage
But beyond the letters,
there was another form of communication at work: the exchange
of prayers, and the sense of communion in the mission
to live the Gospel. Not surprisingly, Donna-Marie’s own spirituality was
deeply influenced by Mother Teresa’s example. Before too long, an
apostolate of writing and speaking was born alongside the works
of mercy that she had long practiced with her family.
has given you many gifts—make sure you use them for
the glory of God and the good of the people.
You will make your life something beautiful for God. You
have been created to be Holy,” wrote Mother Teresa. “Keep
the joy of loving Jesus ever burning in your heart,
and share this joy with others.”
Mother Teresa and Me
does just that. In a world that yearns for heroes,
for true saints who live the Gospel authentically and honestly,
it is deeply encouraging to read the story of this
friendship and of the many miracles and graces that have
flowed from it.
At the same time, the story of Donna-Marie’s
journey of faith sends another message: we are all called
to holiness. Each of us has a mission in life,
a role to play in God’s plan, a task that
begins with prayer and is consummated in acts of love.
As Mother Teresa used to say, the poorest of the
poor are not only in Calcutta. They are all around,
and each of us is called to be “Jesus with
Mother Teresa and Me is an inspiring push toward
that goal of holiness, a reminder that God has big
plans for us… if we let ourselves be led by
To purchase Mother Teresa and Me: Ten Years of Friendship,
Learn more about Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle and
her speaking and writing apostolates at her blog spot: http://web.mac.com/dcooperoboyle/Site/Welcome.html.