The visit is a “Family Must” in Kolkata. Let me explain.
Married in 1987, Mary and I were “older.” We had been unsuccessful in having kids. During the summer of 1990, I was fortunate to participate in a Fulbright-Hays India grant for non-South Asian specialists. After this 6 week wonderful program ended, another participant, Carl Griffen, and I traveled India and Nepal for another two weeks.
During those two weeks, we visited Kolkata. Rev. Subodh Mondal, our host (who later became bishop for the Methodist Church of North India), generously showed us the city and introduced us to his friends. One of his friends was Mother Teresa, so one afternoon we visited briefly with her at the Mother House.
Mother Teresa emerged from her one-room quarters above the courtyard. She greeted the three of us. Since she was short and stooped, I suspected that she was a frail woman since she had also had a heart attack the previous year. Still, after stretching out her hand, she shook our hands with the grip of a coal miner. Strong. Firm. Decisive.
We chatted for a few minutes. She asked us questions to make us feel comfortable. After we stated how much we admired her work and the work of her sisters, she asked if there was anything she could do for us. “Two things, please.” Carl and I each handed her several Bibles to sign. With clear and legible handwriting, she wrote “May God Bless, M. Teresa.” I also asked if she would say a prayer. “Write it on a slip of paper please.” I wrote on a slip of paper and handed it to her. She read “If it is God’s will, may Mary and I have children.” Mother Teresa responded, “We will pray.”
What do you say after Mother Teresa speaks those words? We thanked her and left.The chance to meet Mother Teresa was a highlight of that summer in India.
But there is more. The next summer 1991 Mary began to expect our twin sons. Charles and Dwight were born on February 7, 1992. No matter what others might think, I think Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity played a part in our having children.
During this 2017 trip, Mary, Dwight, and I had to pay our respects to the Missionaries of Charity. We simply had to say “thank you” to Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa, before her tomb in the Mother House.