Continuing St. Mother Teresa's work Print
Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

It doesn’t seem possible that it has been 20 years since the death of St. Mother Teresa.

She died on September 5, 1997.  I remember that year well, because Princess Diana died on August 31, just a few days before Mother Teresa.

Connection with Princess Diana

The two were connected by more than the proximity of their deaths. They had met and Princess Diana had said that Mother Teresa inspired her to help the poor.

Letters written by Princess Diana revealed how a trip to Calcutta to visit Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity in India caused a spiritual awakening and changed her life.

The Princess of Wales wrote about her visit, “Today, something very profound touched my life. I went to Mother Teresa’s home and found the direction I’ve been searching for all these years.”

She added, “The Sisters sang to me, a deeply spiritual experience, and I soared to such heights in my spirit. The light shone from within these ladies, saints for want of a better word, and such love came from their eyes and their touch was full of warmth.”

Inspired by her experience with Mother Teresa and her Sisters, Princess Diana went on to help the sick and the poor. At the time of her death, she supported a cancer fund; a London children’s hospital; the National AIDS Trust; a leprosy mission; the English National Ballet; and Centerpoint Soho (providing services to homeless youth). She raised public awareness worldwide for the ban on land mines.

Living the Works of Mercy

Of course, St. Mother Teresa has inspired many other people around the world by carrying out the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. She set up nearly 500 houses to help the dying and unwanted and set up homes for AIDS patients, prostitutes, and battered women, and orphanages for poor children.

Pope Francis canonized her as a saint on September 4 of 2016, so we will be celebrating her feast day on September 5.

As we observe the 20th anniversary of her death and her feast day, those of us in the Diocese of Madison can help carry on St. Mother Teresa’s work. We can do so by doing Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy in our own lives.

Support endowment fund

We can also assist the Diocese of Madison by supporting the Saint Mother Teresa Mercy Endowment Fund. This fund was established last year during the Catholic Church’s Year of Mercy by the Catholic Diocese of Madison Foundation. The fund provides ongoing financial support to ministries performing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy in the Diocese of Madison.

This year a portion of the fund’s distribution will support The Beacon, a homeless day resource center opening in Madison this fall being operated by Catholic Charities.

Catholic Herald readers have a special opportunity to donate to this Endowment Fund. Please consider a gift of at least $20 in honor of the 20th anniversary of St. Mother Teresa’s death. Gifts can be mailed using the envelope included in this edition of the Catholic Herald or online at

Please join me in supporting this appeal and carrying on the important work of serving the poor, sick, homeless, and others in need in our area.