Mother Teresa's Family Helped Shape the Vocation

A Co-founder Recalls the New Blessed

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ROME, OCT. 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Mother Teresa learned her human and religious values early, says a co-founder and superior of the contemplative men's branch of the Missionaries of Charity family and of the lay Missionaries.



"The first school of Mother Teresa's human and religious vocation was her home; her mother was an exceptional woman," said Father Sebastian Vazhakala on Sunday, the day the Pope beatified the ethnic Albanian religious.

The priest recounted his firsthand testimony of the new blessed, with whom he worked since 1966, to Korazym (www.korazym.org).

"Mother Teresa's vocation and formation began in the family. She lost her father when she was 9 years old, like the Holy Father, who lost his mother at the same age. In a certain sense, they are also united by this," Father Vazhakala recalled.

Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. "When she lost her husband, Agnes' mother not only did not get discouraged, but she asked her four children to pray even more," the priest said. "Mother Teresa's first school was, precisely, her mother, the family, both for human as well as spiritual matters."

The missionary of Calcutta arose from there. She "prayed much, it's true, but her first concern was to understand what was the most immediate need: of the body? the soul? To feed, dress or pray?" the priest recalled.

"She did not waste time thinking about the past, about what she might have done," Father Vazhakala said. "She concentrated on the present moment. This was her exceptional teaching. When she saw a person in need, she never asked what others could do. She always asked herself: 'What can I do?'

"For her, every person represented Christ. Mother Teresa was radiant with the light of the Lord."

Father Vazhakala also described his first meeting with Mother Teresa. "I was in the seminary, in fourth year. Mother came to speak to us once. It was March 1966. I was looking for a way based on the example of Mother Teresa. It was important for me to live the Gospel and to put into practice what I studied and what I believed."

In Mother Teresa, the religious said he found "sincerity, simplicity, love. She spoke with the heart. ... I understood that the Gospel could be lived concretely."

"I spoke with her, and she said: 'What we do, we do for Jesus, because Jesus is thirsty,'" the priest said.

"The first time a saw the lepers of Calcutta with their disfigured faces it made a great impression on me, but it was as if I had seen the suffering face of Christ," he added. "That was Jesus' face. In just three days, I decided to return to Calcutta."