Imagine working eighteen hours a day, every day for several months straight. Imagine baking, packing, shipping, unloading, and distributing two million loaves of bread a day. Imagine feeding, clothing and sheltering millions of homeless and needy visitors from another country. Imagine doing all this with Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta—and then spending your Christmas with her through an unforeseen twist of circumstances.
These are the actual experiences of a man whom I know personally. As an overseas Program Director for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), this man spent nine years in India working closely with Blessed Mother Teresa. In 1971, with her assistance, he organized and directed a tremendous humanitarian relief program for millions of East Pakistani refugees. Then, at the climax of this great effort, he and Mother Teresa unexpectedly shared a providentially arranged Christmas with a very special visitor: a well-known American Catholic archbishop whose cause for sainthood is now underway.
A few years ago, I was blessed with the incredible opportunity to interview this living witness of Mother Teresa’s sanctity and hear his own firsthand account of the amazing events in which he was involved—a true story never before told. I found it to be a dramatic, inspiring and deeply moving account of great human tragedy and suffering illuminated and uplifted by the gentle touch of Christ’s redeeming love.
Catholic Relief Services spent tens of millions of dollars to bring the East Pakistani refugees necessary food, water, clothing, soap, shelter, and medical aid, but Mother Teresa gave them what no money could buy—Christian love and compassion. “She was truly a mother to everybody, and of course the people responded to that,” the former CRS Program Director tells me in one of our interviews. He also recalls how the refugees in each camp would eagerly await Mother Teresa’s arrival regardless of the time of day or night. Whenever he and she arrived at a camp, the refugees would courteously welcome them according to Bengali custom by placing garlands of flowers on their shoulders and offering them food and drink. “Especially when it’s Mother Teresa because she was the big honored guest, so just by association I would get my share too,” chuckles the Director.
However, his fondest memory of the relief program is his unique Christmas spent with Mother Teresa and her famous visitor from the United States. “Mother Teresa had a wonderful opportunity that day to demonstrate to everybody just how a saint would operate on Christmas Day,” he remarks, “because I’m sure that she would have had a totally different type of a Christmas Day herself.”
More than forty years after it happened, this powerful true story will finally be told to the world as it was told to this author in a new book currently being written. The book, entitled My Christmas with Mother Teresa, will tell you who that surprise Christmas visitor was, why he came to visit Mother Teresa and the refugees, and how the CRS Program Director was personally affected by spending Christmas with two such holy individuals. (The identity of this now retired Program Director will be revealed in the published book.)
The book will also delve into the historical background of the East Pakistani refugee crisis to answer common questions such as: What prompted ten million East Pakistani refugees to flee into India in a single year? How did India and the world respond to the massive refugee crisis? How did the crisis end? What happened to the refugees after the crisis?
Additionally, My Christmas with Mother Teresa will feature a variety of colorful, entertaining, inspiring, and amazing personal anecdotes and experiences of the CRS Program Director culled from memories of his nine years’ life and work in India and his personal friendship with the “Saint of Calcutta.”
Information about the book’s publisher, release date, and availability will be posted on my Twitter page at http://twitter.com/justinsoutar as well as right here on my blog.