Clerics mourn death of Mother Teresa

September 06, 1997


Staff Writer

EMMITSBURG, Md. - When news of Mother Teresa's death reached the campus of Mount St. Mary's College Friday afternoon, bells tolled and flags were lowered to half mast.

Priests there who had met her spoke of her fondly as a great inspiration.

"It's a great loss for the world. She was such a holy woman," said the Rev. Kevin Rhoades, rectory of the seminary.

Many of the students and faculty have a special place in their heart for Mother Teresa, especially since her visit to the campus in December 1995.


It doesn't seem that long ago that a near capacity crowd at the 2,500-seat Memorial Gym listened to a frail, stooped woman talk about working with lepers, AIDS patients and the homeless.

Mother Teresa also spoke with the seminarians about the priesthood, Rhoades said.

"Everyone will remember that for the rest of our lives," he said.

Rhoades also met Mother Teresa when he was a priest in Rome from 1985 to 1988.

When she visited Rome, she would stay at San Gregorio, a homeless shelter run by her Missionaries of Charity.

"I just felt like I was in the presence of a saint. She never seemed rushed. You felt like you were the only person in the world at that moment," he said.

She was soft-spoken, but had great strength.

The highlight of knowing Mother Teresa was introducing his mother to her.

Rhoades was feeling disappointed that day because his mother wasn't able to meet Pope John Paul II.

When he brought his mother to San Gregorio to meet some of the sisters, they surprised him by bringing out Mother Teresa, who spoke to them beautifully about how wonderful it was that she gave her son to the priesthood.

The Rev. Donald Haggerty also saw Mother Theresa on many occasions through his work with Missionaries of Charity.

"It's a loss for the church, but it's also a great inspiration for all of us to see the completion of a saintly life," said Haggerty, professor of moral theology.

Even when she was very sick the last few years, she continued giving herself to the poor, he said.

Her homeless shelters were not institutions, but truly homes where people felt loved and cared for, he said.

A big part of her legacy will be the charity and its 4,000 sisters, he said.

Graduate student David Karn said he'll never forget hearing Mother Teresa speak at the campus.

"It was just awesome," said Karn, 22, of Hagerstown.

Karn was surprised and saddened about her death.

He plans to keep her words of constant prayer with him always, he said.

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