by AnnaMarie Prono
For the past two years I have been taking courses in the Lay Ministry Program sponsored by the Brooklyn Diocese. This fall’s semester begins my final year of study, in which students focus on developing a ministry to serve those within their parish. As a member of Our Lady of Mercy parish, Forest Hills, I came into the program with a plan to focus on arts and communications as a means to glorify the Lord. As an artist, my hope is to bring others closer to Jesus through art.
A colleague, Anne Smyth, from St. Andrew the Apostle, Bay Ridge, asked me to work with her as she develops a one-day children’s program using art and prayer in conjunction with a saint. I immediately agreed, thinking we’d focus on Our Blessed Mother Mary or one of the historical saints such as Joseph or one of the Apostles. A bit surprised at the suggestion of Mother Teresa, I thought I would have to do some research.
I am embarrassed to say that the Church’s newest saint is not someone on my list of go-to saints. Our lifetimes have overlapped, and Mother Teresa was no stranger to the news media. When I think of her, the things that come to my mind are the Nobel Peace Prize, the slums of Calcutta and the famous photo of her and Princess Diana.
But this feeling did not last long. Suddenly, Mother Teresa started to bombard me with messages via a variety of sources. The next day I received the September issue of Magnificat, and opened it to discover a postcard with her smiling back at me.
The following day, I received an email from Catholic News Agency, titled, “The Happiest Day of Mother Teresa’s Life,” which shared the story of the day she met Pope John Paul II. And on the third day, when I walked out of my house, I was greeted by a woman from the neighborhood, who opened a bag and handed me a roll, saying, “Mother Teresa Bread.”
I am always searching for signs from above to provide me with reassurance or a sense of peace. Mother Teresa was not going to stop. The next night, I sat down to paint an image that I hoped to use for the upcoming children’s event. When I finished it, I placed the small painting on the kitchen table for my husband to see in the morning.
And when I awoke the following morning, I found that he left me an updated reissue of Time’s Special Edition, with my new acquaintance gracing the cover, in her traditional white habit with blue stripes
Is all of this a coincidence? I choose to think not. Now devouring everything I can find that is written about this holy woman, I am attracted to her strong will to serve Jesus. Though I am not called to the slums of India, I admire her devotion and relentless dedication to serve others. Hopefully, these gentle nudgings from the remarkable lady will help me to gain a little bit of humility and compassion for others.