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"Holiness is not the luxury of a few. It is everyone's duty: yours and mine."  ~Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa Medal

 

 

Fr. Sebastian's Talk Upon Receiving Mother Teresa Medal
3rd May 2015
Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala, M.C.

 

Your Excellency, Mr. Bujar Nishani, president of the Republic of Albania and your councillors, Your Excellencies Rt. Rev. Ramiro Moliner Ingles the Apostolic Nuncio for Albania, and Rt. Rev. Angelo Massafra, Archbishop of Shkodra-Pult, Zoti Zef Hila, the mayor of Kommuna Bushat, distinguished guests and visitors, all the priest concelebrants, my Brothers and Sisters.

I would like to welcome all of you to Kisha Bushat and Bethel, House of God, and home for our disabled boys and men. Thank you for taking the trouble to come to our humble place where we, the community of the Brothers of Missionaries of Charity of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, live and work since 8th September 1991. Blessed Teresa in person has been here several times, to visit us and the people of Bushat and the surrounding villages, to pray with us and to thank God for all His blessings.

I received the news of today's event while I was giving a retreat to our brothers in Ghana, Africa. My spontaneous thought was: Why me, Lord? Who am I to be selected to receive this prestigious award by the president of this noble land of Albania? The answer I received deep within me was not to question but to accept it with humility and gratitude in the name of the poor. To work harder, more prayerfully, more faithfully and more perseveringly for our poor people, especially in Albania. I was made to understand that it is part of the work of God who inspired Zoti Zef Hila, the Mayor of Bushat, to present my name to your Excellency, the president of Albania and for your Excellency to take the decision to confer it on me.

Instead of questioning let us thank God and thank God for you Mr. President, and for all those who have assisted you to make this a reality for all the people of Albania. You represent this noble Albanian nation, one of whose unforgettable daughters was Bl. Teresa Bojaxhiu M.C. I must say that by giving me this national award, you are honoring her and myself who was her first spiritual son. I was fortunate to work very closely with her for the poorest of the poor for over thirty years, from 1967 to 1997, in the different parts of the world.

Your coming to our house here in Bushat is a sign that you too not only have the same Albanian heritage but have the same Albanian spirit of simplicity, humanity and solidarity.

On 25 April, 1993, the Pope St. John Paul II visited Albania, invited by the apostolic nuncio, His Excellency Archbishop Ivan Dias. On that day Pope St. John Paul II of happy memory, standing on the balcony of the Archbishop's room, in Shkodra said: "On the Cross Jesus prayed for those who crucified him, set an example of love without conditions, of a life which goes beyond the offences it has received, and which, even forgetting them, is ready to offer forgiveness...I cannot fail to greet a very humble person who is here among us, Mother Teresa of Kolkata in India. Everyone knows where she is from, what her homeland is. Her homeland is here. Even during the period when Albania was completely isolated, this humble religious, this helpful servant of the poorest, brought the name of your country to the whole world. In Mother Teresa, Albania was always held in esteem. This is her mission and that of all who, like her, are true followers of Christ, apostles of Christ, apostles of Charity. Today I thank you, Sister, in the name of the universal Church. I thank you, dear Albania, for this daughter of your land and your people".

Mother Teresa, like you, loved her people and her country. In one of her letters to me, Bl. Teresa wrote: "My Dearest Father Sebastian MC,...My mother had not seen me for 46 years- months before she died, she kept calling and longing to see me, her youngest child. Albania, being what it is, no Indian is allowed to go. I could go so near and yet not to her. So she died with my name in her mouth".

In the name of the Brothers of the Missionaries of Charity, our poor people, especially the disabled boys and men of Bethel, and all present here, I say thank you Mr President, thank you to your family, your councilors present here with us this morning, all your close collaborators and in a special way Mr. Zef Hila and his family, who has been a real help to us ever since we came to Albania.

Our heartfelt gratitude for all the timely support we receive from your Excellencies, our Archbishop Angelo Masafra and our Apostolic Nuncio Ramiro Moliner Ingles who represents the Pope in this country. I feel a strong bond of solidarity with you as you officially represent the Church. God is at work here, both in the Church and in the State for the good of everyone.

My dear brothers and sisters, with all of you present here I would like to thank God with all the powers and the fibers of my being and request your continued help and collaboration. Together let us do something beautiful for God; together let us continue to be burning candles and let us have the true spirit of invincible love and unconditional service to our needy people of this great land of Albania as far as we are able. Let us continue to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.

Today's Albania depends so much on the young people, who are the life of today and the hope of tomorrow. It is up to the people of Albania of today to build up a true Albania filled with peace, joy and hope. Bl. Teresa of happy memory built not only Albania but the whole world on the invincible love of God. She was chosen to be the faithful Spouse of Jesus crucified, who went to every corner of the world spreading the fragrance of Jesus' love, Jesus' compassion, Jesus' peace and joy. She established homes of love for the homeless, abandoned and unwanted people, who lived perhaps like animals on the streets, but died like angels with dignity, gentle love and tender care. These homes have become oasis of love, joy and peace for all, including lepers, AIDS patients, unwed mothers and unwanted children.

The Albania of today must try to take Bl. Teresa as their model and their mirror. The Albania of today can be very proud of her if she lives the ideals of her daughter Bl. Teresa Bojaxhiu, whose beloved mother and sister rest in the cemetery of the capital city of Tirana.

Let Albania as a nation become an instrument of peace and joy. Let there be peace and let it begin with Albania. To this end I pray and ask the prayers of all.
I end with the simple payer which all M.C.s all over the world pray everyday:

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellowmen throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them this day their daily bread and by our understanding love give peace and joy.

Zoya e Shkodres, lutu per ne. Nene Térèze, lutu per ne.

God bless you.

 

View photos of this event here: Mother Teresa Medal Awarded to Fr. Sebastian by Albanian President, Mr. Bujar Nishani.