Sunday, January 25, 2015
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

Solano GOP welcomes address from King niece

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Nursing students take next step in higher education

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

Friend seeks justice for 1982 Vacaville homicide victim

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 10 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Biggest Little Car Show returns for 31st year

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Solano Safety Net Summit set in Fairfield downtown

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

 
Wine, chocolate pairing comes to downtown Benicia

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Local gas prices dip below $2 a gallon

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Crews respond to residential fire

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Be heart smart all year long

By Gerald Bourne, MD | From Page: C4

 
Kindergarten Readiness Roundup enlightens parents

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Weather for Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

 
CHP seeks witnesses to I-80 crash

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Saudi monarchy transition a real economic concern

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

 
City seeks input on downtown plan

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7, 2 Comments

Privatized housing tenants to feel BAH pinch

By Tom Philpott | From Page: B10

 
Fairfield police log: Jan. 23, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Airman with Fairfield tie completes training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 23, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Suisun City police log: Jan. 22, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
.

US / World

Abe ‘speechless’ after video claims IS hostage dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
It’s a hoot hanging out with owls at this Tokyo cafe

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2 | Gallery

Avian flu confirmed in commercial turkey flock in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Boy, 13, arrested in fatal stabbing near Los Angeles school

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Abortion opponents express renewed hope at SF rally

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
School: Sea otter conceived in wild is 1st born in captivity

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Man searching by plane finds body of missing son off Mexico

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Kia recalling nearly 87,000 Fortes because of fire risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Elon Musk’s SpaceX drops lawsuit against Air Force

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California’s public-worker payroll increased post-recession

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Company seeks rights to names of iconic Grand Canyon lodges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

GOP presses state bills limiting gay rights before ruling

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
1st attempt to lift fuselage of crashed AirAsia plane fails

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Tens of thousands protest after president resigns in Yemen

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Thousands march against socialist president in Venezuela

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Expert says King Tut mask can be restored after epoxy used

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Obama to cut short India trip to pay call on Saudi Arabia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Rockets kill 30 in Ukrainian city as rebels launch offensive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
.

Opinion

 
Plea for return of stolen statue

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Not all police are bad

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 6 Comments

Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 25, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sound off for Jan. 25, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Today in History: Jan. 25, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Jan. 25, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

The gift of a new beginning

By Dalia Adams | From Page: C3

 
Mennonite group to build houses in tornado-damaged town

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Yearbooks bring Jewish, Catholic groups together

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Horoscope Jan. 25, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

My dad can’t get over the bad first impression of my boyfriend

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

 
.

Entertainment

Mariel Hemingway working on memoir and young adult novel

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
Jonathan Franzen to appear at BookExpo America

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

25 years of trying to get it right

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Sharapova, Bouchard into quarterfinals at Australian Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

2 Williams sisters, 2 Madisons into 4th round at Aussie Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Hall of Famer Ernie Banks mourned in sports world and beyond

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Thompson’s record 3rd quarter leads Warriors past Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Belichick on deflated balls: ‘We try to do everything right’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s surgically repaired hip on mend

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Buckeyes celebrate their title at Ohio Stadium

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Carroll, Belichick excelled after failing the first time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Luck-led Team Carter vs. Romo-lead Team Irvin in Pro Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

AP Explains: The Pro Bowl, unlike any other All-Star game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Abdullah leads North to 34-13 win over South in Senior Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

As Brady, Gronk know, pre-Super Bowl injury talk always big

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
AP Interview: Selig says MLB could expand internationally

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Could Super Bowl be Lynch’s finale in Seattle?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sherman, Seahawks take the trash-talk lead over Patriots

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Ashley Wagner wins 3rd US title with record-setting scores

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Weber’s 108.5-mph blast gives him hardest shot at NHL skills

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Jimenez, Mediate share lead in Champions Tour opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Grace wins Qatar Masters by 1 stroke

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Matt Kuchar stumbles in, gives away Humana Challenge lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
For streaking Atlanta Hawks, it’s all about the balance

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Upstart wins $400,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Mischief Clem wins California Cup Derby in photo finish

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

World Cup of Hockey tournament set for 2016

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Hometown report: Bowling

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

Sports on TV for Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B5

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 25, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Business

Anheuser-Busch to buy craft beer company

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Booking a trip to the ER on your smartphone? It’s a breeze

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Higher standard deduction, other breaks for older taxpayers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Tiny Cokes: Less guilt means more money for makers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Recalls this week: cleaners, fitness machines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
First Look: Apple’s HomeKit could help smarten up your home

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

.

Obituaries

Don Johnson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Thomas Clark

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Sheila Margery (Smith) Luxenberg

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics