Mother Teresa filmmaker says new documentary is ‘the work of the Holy Spirit’

WASHINGTON — A new documentary about St. Therese of Calcutta, produced by the Knights of Columbus, aims to show how her mission and her spirit continue in the work of her order, the Missionaries of Charity.

“Mother Teresa: No Greater Love,” directed by Emmy-winning filmmaker David Naglieri, screened at the Vatican Sept. 2 and had its U.S. premiere Sept. 11 at St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington. The film will screen in approximately 900 theaters as part of Fathom Events’ Saints series on October 3-4.

Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly told the audience that the film intends to reach younger audiences who may not be as familiar with the work of the saint who died 25 years ago.

He also said Pope Francis praised the film in a letter.

The August 25 papal letter says: “Thank you for promoting this type of initiative which helps, in a creative way, to make zeal for evangelization accessible, in particular for the younger generations who promote the desire to follow the Lord who loved the first. .”

The Washington screening capped off a weekend of events dedicated to the saint, including a special Mass at the National Shrine Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and the dedication of the Mother Teresa Institute in Washington, designed “to preserve, protect, promote and develop the authentic legacy of Saint Teresa of Calcutta to the church and to the world.The institute will provide resources for scholars and researchers.

During the Mass, which marked the 25th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death, Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory encouraged the faithful to look to the holy woman as a role model and to “continue to fulfill what she does not did not do by serving and loving the poor.”

“While we admire his work and his extraordinary example of love, mere admiration is not enough when it comes to saints who inspire our lives,” Cardinal Gregory said. “St. Teresa was a woman of amazing ability and she used all the gifts God gave her for others. Her example should inspire us all to imitate God’s mercy in caring for those whose lives continue to be in danger.

The Cardinal noted that Mother Teresa “has not been exempt from criticism in our contemporary world which always needs to find fault with even the most generous and loving individuals.”

“St. Teresa herself would be the very first to recognize that there was so much more she could have and would have liked to do to care for God’s poor,” Cardinal Gregory said. holy does not mean that a person has done everything perfectly – just that he has done everything he has done with heroism and generosity.”

During a panel discussion on the new documentary after its screening, Naglieri said the process of filming new interviews and finding footage for the new documentary took 11 months and was “largely the work of the Holy Spirit”.

The particular challenge was that there wasn’t a lot of vintage Mother Teresa film footage available. She was not seeking personal publicity and only became known when British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge made a 1969 documentary, “Something Beautiful for God”, about Mother Teresa’s work from 1948 in India. to meet the physical and spiritual needs of “the poorest of the poor.

The public’s fascination with this practitioner of “radical poverty” grew instantly and built for the rest of her life. Mother Teresa, born in North Macedonia in 1910, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was elevated to sainthood by Pope Francis on September 4, 2016.

“We didn’t want to do a chronological biography,” Naglieri said. Instead, the goal was to “show how its mission and spirit continues today.”

Accordingly, the documentary shows the Missionaries of Charity working with children and adults in Brazil, India, Kenya and New York. The sisters are currently in over 130 countries.

Sister Mary Bernice, a charity missionary in the Bronx, NY, tells a story in the film about Mother Teresa encountering a gang-infested Chicago neighborhood in the 1970s that quickly became legend.

She ordered the sisters, “Lead me now to the door where they are shooting at us.

“We couldn’t believe it. As we walked towards the gate, all these buildings around us, the guns were pointed and kept shooting at us. Not a bullet hit us. And when we got to the door, this big man said to Mother Teresa, “Mother, you can’t come in here. I have business here.

“And Mom lowered her head. And she looked up at him and said, “I too have business here.” Let’s make a deal. The man was so shocked that Mother was speaking that way. He said, “You can come in here, mother.” I can’t stop my business. But I will protect your sisters. “

Richard Szczepanowski, editor of the Catholic Standard, a newspaper for the Archdiocese of Washington, contributed to this story.

Maria D. Ervin