Daniel Berrigan Walt Whitman Martin Sheen Nick Virgilio Edwina Gateley Mother Theresa Thich Naht Hahn Mairead Corrigan Mick Maloney Eugene O’Donnell Barbara Dever Harry Reasoner Othmar Carli Sister Peg Hynes Cesar Chavez Eileen Egan Paddy Doherty Michael Flatley Tommy Sands Lester Conner Father Des Wilson
FAMOUS FACES AT SACRED HEART
In 1976 Sacred Heart was graced by the visit of a woman who has reached the highest heights by showing the greatest humility. . . who has become so sought-after simply by serving others. It was a hot day on August 7, 1976, when Mother Teresa of Calcutta blessed the people of Sacred Heart with her great spirit. Michael Doyle described the day this way:
The people were happy as the Queen of the Poor in her sandals and sari came up the aisle to the altar, It was an Easter-morning moment. They leaned to her like flowers to the sun hoping that the touch of her hand or even her holy hem would heal their hearts and make them whole again.
Dana Redd, a third grade student at Sacred Heart School ( and currently the Mayor of Camden. NJ) gave her a lei of flowers gathered in the gardens of Camden. Dana, whose parents died tragically one month before, was immediately blessed in an embrace of tender and tearful love. (It was as though Mother Teresa knew of the child’s great loss.)
A hush came over the people as she arose to speak. Agnes Gonxhu Bejazhiu from Skoplje, Yugoslavia, a, former member of the Irish branch of the Sisters of Loreto. Teacher in India. In 1948 she took off the black and white habit of Loreto, put on the sari of India, and became Mother Teresa of Clacutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity. “To be here with you” she said, “is the end of a perfect day. I am very happy to be able to end the week of the Eucharistic Congress with you in Camden. We must do our best to keep love alive. Jesus made himself into bread so that everyone could come in contact with Christ. People may be hungry in their own homes in one way or another.
Is there a smile in your home? When I was a little girl my mother would work hard all day but before my father came home, she would dress up for him. I knew a man who brought flowers to his wife every Saturday for fifty years because that was the day they were married. He did his best to keep love alive. “
I am very happy to be with you,” she said again and tears of joy ran in the wrinkles of old people’s faces. The sad walls of Sacred Heart looked better than they had for years. They knew that something good was going on . . . something beautiful for God. The whole place glowed as Msgr. Adamo led us in Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament – incense burning, people singing and holy mother praying – it was warm and wonderful in the Heart of Camden.
It was time to go. Like Peter on Taber we wanted her to stay. But, like Jesus we decided to give ourselves to her in bread. Donato Gallucci, 92, gave her a loaf baked in Camden in a basket made in India. She blessed him and said: “It doesn’t matter if we grow old on the outside, as long as we are young on the inside. . .”
Outside, the streets were filled with people, she could hardly move. The little queen in a green Rabbit – caught in the crowd – it was Palm Sunday on a Saturday. Slowly she moved away from the reaching hands that urged her not to go – cradling our loaf in her arms and our future in her heart.
From A Heart in Camden for a Hundred Years