Hundreds gathered outside St. Athanasius Catholic Church in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, New York, to see the unveiling of a very special gift.
The President of the Republic of Albania, Bujar Nishani, unveiled a beautiful statue of Mother Teresa, who is officially recognized as St. Teresa of Calcutta by the Catholic Church, holding a child in her arms.
Although St. Teresa of Calcutta was a Catholic, her works brought people and religious leaders of several faiths together.
Marko Kepi, president of the Albanian Roots cultural organization, which donated the wonderful statue, stated: “Mother Teresa honored all Albanians with the great work that she did.
“She was beyond her faith when it came to helping people, and we felt it was important to have people of different faiths, backgrounds, and nationalities come because that’s what she was all about.”
Nishani joined several others to New York state Senator Martin Goldern, Mgr. David Cassato, St. Athanasius’ pastor, an imam, rabbi, Orthodox priest and Bronx Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, the son of Albanian immigrants.
Nishani told the crowd: “Today is very special. Our dear mother, St. Teresa, is with us.”
He called her a woman of “iron will” and “boundless love” before commenting she is “a saint of hope, of compassion, of unshakable trust in God.
“Mother Teresa is the most precious gift that the Albanian nation has generously bestowed to all mankind. I’m convinced that all of you, and everyone else who lives in Brooklyn, will be inspired and take the example of the life and work of the Albanian saint.”
Mgr. Cassato stated: “There’s a strong Albanian community in Bensonhurst. They’re Muslim, Orthodox, Catholic – and they all claim Mother Teresa. It just shows the inclusive love of god.
Children present at the unveiling ceremony wore traditional Albanian garb while Indian and Irish dance troops performed in honor of the saint who became a nun in Ireland and worked primarily in India, Kepi explained.
The Albanian Roots said several community members from different faiths united to donate services to help install the effigy.
Behind the statue, a donated banner of St. Teresa’s image carried with it one of her most famous quotes on unity: “By blood, I am an Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun.
“As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the heart of Jesus.”
According to the Catholic Herald, Mgr. Cassato spoke of St. Teresa:
“She looked me in the eyes with her wrinkly face, handed me a medal of the Miraculous Medal, and said to me: ‘Be a good priest. Take care of God’s poor people.’
“Indeed, this is what her life was about. She showed God’s inclusive love to all people…Today, let us all recommit ourselves to helping the poor. Let us be as Mother Teresa: people dedicated to the poor.”
By Kenya Sinclair