Sunday, November 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

On religion: Mother Teresa: Remarkable person, remarkable day

By
From page C3 | January 12, 2014 |

Mother Teresa was having a bad press conference.

Journalists gathered for her 1989 Denver visit seemed determined to ask a litany of questions about her views on every imaginable issue in world affairs and American politics. The soft-spoken, yet often stern, nun seemed confused and kept stressing that her Missionary Sisters of Charity would always focus on the needs of the needy and the sick, including those suffering from AIDS.

One television reporter even asked if the day’s main event — a “Celebrate Life with Mother Teresa” prayer rally — would include a Mass. Once again, the tiny sister from Calcutta was confused. How could there be a Catholic Mass if the rally included Lutherans, Baptists, Episcopalians, Pentecostal believers and clergy from other churches?

“We will pray together,” she said. “That is what we can do.”

I raised my hand and asked another question that I knew she might not want to answer. I had heard that she had privately toured Northeast Denver, an impoverished area hit hard by gangs. Might she open a mission there?

Mother Teresa smiled, but gently deflected the question, noting that Denver had recently been added at the end of a long list of dioceses worldwide making just such a request.

What happened next was a singular moment in my journalism career, one that awkwardly blurred the lines between the personal and the professional.

Why bring this up now? For more than 25 years, I have written this weekly column for the Scripps Howard News Service, a streak that ended last month as the wire services closed. My “On Religion” column will continue to be carried by Universal Uclick, formerly known as the Universal Press Syndicate.

During this quarter of a century, readers have asked one question more than any other: Who is the most remarkable person you’ve met while covering religion? That’s a tough one. The Rev. Billy Graham or novelist Madeleine L’Engle? Who was the more charismatic positive thinker, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale or actor Denzel Washington? What was more amazing, seeing Chuck Colson preach inside a prison on Easter or Bono lead a Bible-study group at the U.S. Capitol?

My answer centers on what happened after that Denver press conference, after Mother Teresa — now the Blessed Mother Teresa, one step from being recognized as a saint — finished her private prayers before the ecumenical service.

The clergy taking part in the rally were gathered in a holding room deep inside the arena and, eventually, security guards moved through to remove the reporters. I was in a corner, hidden behind the Greek Orthodox cathedral dean in his flowing vestments. The guards missed me.

Suddenly, Mother Teresa entered, spending a few moments with each of the clergy. When a priest tried to introduce me, she took my hand. “Yes,” she said, smiling. “He asked me earlier about starting a house here.” We talked briefly and she said she was surprised that a reporter had asked that question.

Hours later, as the rally ended, Denver’s archbishop followed protocol and gave the elderly nun several gifts from the people of Colorado. Then she raised her hand to silence the crowd.

“I have a gift for you,” she said, gesturing toward members of her team. “I will give you my sisters and I hope that, together, we are going to do something beautiful for God.”

Archbishop J. Francis Stafford — now a cardinal in Rome — flushed red with shock. The work to build a Denver mission would begin immediately, rather than many years in the future.

Mother Teresa’s gift was the story of the day and my editors kept asking a blunt question: What led to her shocking decision?

Well, I had a quote from Stafford, who said: “She is a spontaneous person. Maybe we will never know why she made her decision now.”

But I also told them about my strange encounter with the woman that millions already considered a living saint. Could I include this factual material in a news report, even though I was directly involved in what transpired?

What happened really happened. The quotes were in my reporter’s notebook.

Nevertheless, we decided to play the main story straight.

The problem was that I was the eyewitness. I was there and so was Mother Teresa, the most remarkable person I have encountered in my journalism work.

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Contact him at tmattingly@cccu.org or www.tmatt.net

Terry Mattingly

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Fairfield-Suisun sits between bay, valley

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
Teens at Boys & Girls Clubs get their own place

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1 | Gallery

Salvation Army gets ready for Thanksgiving

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
New mobile office adds reach to The Salvation Army

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1

Time to start a local hall of fame

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
Conservancy plans Quail Ridge Walk in December

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Film festival brings people together for good causes

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Advance preparation mitigates frost damage

By Kathy Low | From Page: C4

 
Sudden Infant Death awareness and prevention

By Susan Whalen | From Page: C4

Weather for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B6

 
 
Two injured in Fairfield shooting

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A12, 4 Comments

.

US / World

Storms raise hope in California drought

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Gambling nuke commander linked to fake poker chips

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Winners and losers under Obama’s immigration plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Kohler introduces odor-eating toilet seat

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Civic group: No Ferguson grand jury decision yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
WWII mementos found in suitcase at thrift store

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Hawaii airline tells pilots to return $4,000 bonus

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Dogfighting thrives in years since Vick case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Man sets house on fire, kills responding deputy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Report: Washington toddler shot playing with gun

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Police: Pregnant woman, 3 others fatally shot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Official: SD man kills 4, including self, wounds 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Pope meets with autistic children

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Biden announces new aid for Syrian refugees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
AP sources: Obama broadens mission in Afghanistan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Somalia’s al-Shabab kills 28 non-Muslims in Kenya

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
Kerry says gaps remain in talks about Iran’s nukes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Iraqi forces, Islamic State group battle in Ramadi

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Japan earthquake collapses homes, causes injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

 
State Capitol braces for budget battle

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

 
Editorial Cartoon: Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Act of kindness at Raiders game

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Give the gift of gratitude this holiday season

By Dalia Adams | From Page: C3

 
Buddhist community builds shrine in Pineville yard

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Caught up in the spirt of the music

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Hackers can get into everything, including your camera lens

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

Horoscopes for Nov. 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
Library project puts 50 years of yearbooks online

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

Metrosexuals be gone: Europe is agog for beards

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
Graphic novel teaching history at Mississippi schools

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Lamott offers healing words in ‘Small Victories’

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Eddie Izzard has book deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Whoopi Goldberg writing book about marriage

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Bryan Cranston reads profane hit nursery rhyme

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

49ers host Redskins looking for third straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Cousins lifts sluggish Kings over Wolves, 113-101

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Stanford routs rival Cal 38-17 in 117th Big Game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Sacramento State downs UC Davis 41-30

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Vermette nets winner for Coyotes vs. Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Green says he’s ready to return to lineup for Broncos

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Bills practice in Detroit prepping for Jets game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

No. 4 Duke tops Stanford to win Coaches vs Cancer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Vacaville Christian’s Kenyon voted Sierra Delta League MVP

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Suzy Whaley becomes 1st female officer at PGA

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Giants World Series exhibit goes on display Monday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Oklahoma’s Perine runs for record 427 yards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Rivalry 150 goes to Lafayette, 27-7 over Lehigh

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Harvard beats Yale 31-24 in The Game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Bowling results for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

Bocce results for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Bicycle racing for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

Granada clings to 1-shot lead at LPGA finale

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Swiss lead France 2-1 in Davis Cup final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
This date in sports history for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Business

 
Tips on getting deals during Black Friday blitz

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Most US unemployed don’t get benefits: Here’s why

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Businesses cash in as women chase bigger butts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

At a Glance: Pros, cons of mobile-payment systems

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
Review: No cash, cards, just mobile pay for a week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

Recalls this week: strollers, candles, chargers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Obituaries

Leslie “Esi” Gros

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Norah Dean

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Florentina R. Dulay Florendo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Albert M. Ranzani

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Arthur Irving Weiner

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics