Summary of today’s show: Susan Conroy flew to India as a 21-year-old Dartmouth college student with the idea of serving beside Mother Teresa. That trip to the slums of Calcutta changed the course of Susan’s life and she joined Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams to talk about her experiences with Mother Teresa and the secrets to holiness and a life of faithfulness found in her work and witness. Susan will be a keynote speaker at the 6th annual Eucharistic Congress for Youth and Young Adults in Boston April 19 and 20.
Listen to the show:
Watch the show via live video streaming or a recording later: BostonCatholicLive.com
Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams
Today’s guest(s): Susan Conroy
Links from today’s show:
- The 6th Annual Eucharistic Congress for Youth and Young Adults
- Susan Conroy
- Mother Teresa’s Lessons of Love and Secrets of Sanctity
Today’s topics: Susan Conroy: Mother Teresa’s Word’s and Witness for a Life of Holiness
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed Fr. Matt Williams to the show and they discussed Cardinal Seán’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a group of 29 priests and today’s events on the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum.
- BostonCatholic videos on YouTube.com
- Read the blogs from the pilgrims at The Good Catholic Life website
Next weekend is the 6th annual Eucharistic Congress for Youth and Young Adults and one of the speakers is today’s guest, Susan Conroy. Fr. Matt said the theme this year is “…In memory of Me.” Msgr. Jim Moroney will be speaking on how the liturgy shapes and forms our spirituality to have missionary hearts. Susan will talk about her experiences with Mother Teresa and what it means to shape our hearts in missionary service to our neighbor.
2nd segment: This week’s benefactor card raffle winner is Kenneth and Janet Conroy from Bridgewater
They win the audio book “St. Bernadette of Lords” and the CD “Ecce Fiat: The Annunciation Gregorian Chant”.
If you would like to be eligible to win in an upcoming week, please visit WQOM.org. For a one-time $50 donation, you’ll receive the Station of the Cross benefactor card and key tag, making you eligible for WQOM’s weekly raffle of books, DVDs, CDs and religious items. We’ll be announcing the winner each Wednesday during “The Good Catholic Life” program.
3rd segment: Scot and Fr. Matt welcomed Susan to the show. He asked her how she first came to know Mother Teresa. She said she was 20 years old when she first started learning about Mother Teresa when she was a student at Dartmouth in New Hampshire. Her own mother had sent her a poster with some words of Mother Teresa that so impressed her. When she came home, she found three books by Mother Teresa purchased by her mother and this started her dream to work beside Mother Teresa. Fr. Matt asked about the words on the poster.
Susan said: “Joy is prayer. Joy is strength. Joy is Love. We give the most when we give joy.” Then as a young women who always longed for heaven, Mother Teresa’s other words that we don’t have to wait for heaven floored her. She said her mother had no idea what she was igniting in her daughter’s heart. Her mother has 10 children and only wanted to give her children uplifting and inspiring books. The first person she mentioned her dream about helping Mother Teresa in Calcutta was her mother who said it would be her worst nightmare. Her natural response was to not want her 21-year-old daughter to fly around the world to be exposed to death, danger, and disease. She remembers her first trip away, watching her mother crying in the airport as she left, knowing she couldn’t assure her mom that she would be home alive and well.
Fr. Matt said some people would say they went to Calcutta to feel good about helping people, while Susan went to experience heaven on earth. Susan said helping the poor and dying was happy and fulfilling, but it was grueling and some days were very difficult. Someone once asked Mother Teresa how she kept doing it without going into depression or getting burned out. She said: “I pray”. It’s through her relationship with God that she had this endless source of love and grace. Susan added that every very early morning in Calcutta started with Mass and only after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist could they go out and serve. Then every evening they would come back to the Mother House to have adoration.
Mother Teresa also wanted to make sure people didn’t think what she was doing was social work. Instead she was serving Christ. It is Christ who is the sick person or lonely or in need. As she reached out to person, she remembered that as she touched each person, she was touching Jesus himself.
Scot asked how Mother Teresa’s sanctity was expressed in her daily life. Susan said she was captivated by the idea of a living saint. She had only thought of saints as long gone. As a young person, she thought she could do anything and had very expectations of what a saint might be like and Mother Teresa surpassed them. Her first impression of Mother Teresa was talking to her face to face after Mass in the Motherhouse. Susan was struck by her humility. As a young college girl she knew she was about to meet a celebrity and had never put humility together with celebrity.
Another of her qualities was her kindness and her motherliness. Finding out that Susan’s mom had been struggling with cancer, she gave her two Miraculous Medals for herself and her mother which she kissed first. Her mother lived another 20 years.
Susan said Mother Teresa also treated every single human being she encountered the same way, whether a man in a gutter, a Russian dignitary, or an American college girl. She treated every person like gold. It was as if they were the only person in the world to her.
Scot asked Susan how this encounter affected the trajectory of her life. Susan said Dartmouth graduates are among the most successful in the country and she was definitely on that track, but this changed it completely. She recalls Mother Teresa saying once that it’s not a sin to be rich; it’s a blessing. Susan found it remarkable coming from someone who lives among the poorest of the poor. But although it’s not a sin, it brings a responsibility to the poor. Mother Teresa also said at the end of our lives we won’t be judged based on the money we made, the cars we drive, etc. but on how we love.
Fr. Matt asked what Mother Teresa’s life, witness, and words teach us about the New Evangelization. Susan said the most powerful evangelizers in her life are not those who spoke much, but those who loved much and served much. Mother Teresa didn’t talk about faith so much as showed others. She invited people to come and see for themselves, to serve in the homes for the dying. She preached the faith by her witness.
Susan said God tells us that we are to be holy as he is holy. We’re all called to be holy. So how do we become holy? Susan has hosted a series on EWTN called “Speaking of Saints” and so she was able to study the question. Humility is at the heart of holiness. Jesus told St. Faustina that only the humble of soul can receive His divine grace. A saint is full of the goodness of God. A saint is a friend of God. A saint is led by God through prayer and the spiritual life. Love is also at the heart of holiness. St. Paul said faith without love is nothing. Mother Teresa would say it didn’t matter how many people you help; it’s how you do it. It’s the love you put into the deed that can save souls.
They talked about daily Eucharistic adoration and its importance. Once Mother Teresa started daily adoration the Missionaries of Charity order flourished.
Fr. Matt said Mother Teresa once said, “We’re not called to be successful. We’re called to be faithful.” He asked Susan to explain what that means. Susan said the context of that statement was a group of businessmen visiting the home for the dying in Calcutta. They were there as tourists. Susan said the house was a place where the dying were treated as royalty, lifted from the gutter. This was not a hospital, but a place where the dying who were in the streets were given a place to die with dignity. These professionals thought they should be kept in modern hospitals, not in the simple home for the dying. Mother Teresa was being faithful to what Jesus called her to do, to serve the poorest of the poor. Jesus had told Mother Teresa that poor didn’t love Him because they didn’t know Him and so she was to go among them and bring Him to them.
Our duty isn’t success. That’s up to God. Our duty is to do God’s will, exactly like the Blessed Mother did. St. Therese of Lisieuex equated faithfulness with holiness.
Scot asked Susan what it was like in 1996 to receive permission from Mother Teresa to write her book. Susan had been giving presentations to businesspeople in packed audiences. She was told to keep sharing it. So she wrote to Mother Teresa and asked for her permission and she was stunned how quickly, even miraculously, the letter came back. Mother told her to do it for the glory of God and for the good of souls. Wouldn’t it be great if we did all things every day like that.