Mother Teresa: blessings delayed but not forgotten - The Korea Times
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Mother Teresa: blessings delayed but not forgotten

By Choe Chong-dae

Mother Teresa (1910-1997) was revered by millions as a true mother figure, philanthropist and an extraordinarily special human being. She was an Albanian Catholic sister with neither wealth nor power. She gave herself to others with tireless energy and without expecting anything in return. I am deeply moved by her compassion for the poorest of the poor.

Why am I writing about Mother Teresa? It's an uncommon story.

An old American friend, Dr. Frank Tedesco, was an expat in Korea when he flew to India for research in early 1997. On his way back to Seoul, he volunteered for a week at a disabled children's' home in Calcutta, India run by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. Frank was to have an audience with the Holy Mother but could not because she was gravely ill. She passed away later that year. In lieu of meeting her in person, her attending sister gave Frank an envelope with nine small Miraculous Medals which the Holy Mother had blessed.

He was to share them with the Missionary sisters back in Korea. Frank put the envelope in a safe place. So safe he lost it! Twenty-four years later, Frank recently found the envelope in an old suitcase in storage in Florida. To his chagrin, he realized that he had failed to share the medals with the nuns in Korea!

The yellowing envelope included a note to the Indian head sister and an old address and phone number. Being aware of my interest in religious matters, Frank, a Buddhist scholar, called me to find the current address of the convent. Although I am not Catholic but follow of Chondo-gyo (Dong-hak, Eastern Learning), a Korean native religion, the story reminded me of Mother Teresa's universal healing mission.

I managed to contact the Missionaries of Charity in Incheon to trace Sister Drusilla, the "point person" mentioned in the note. Sister Drusilla had returned to the Missionaries of Charity's home in Calcutta years ago. The very busy Mission Home there is hard to reach. Much has changed since Mother Theresa's canonization, but the sisters still adhere to their vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor."

When the head sister in Incheon learned that Frank, a former U.S. Peace Corps volunteer leprosy worker in 1980 in Korea, has been a long-time end-of-life chaplain, she advised him to give the medals to the terminally ill and staff who care for them. Frank informed me that he had already given a Miraculous Medal to Sangita, the founder of a Hare Krishna hospice in India, who mentioned her awe of Mother Teresa during a hospice care training. The intent of Saint Teresa's gift was not lost after all!

Frank gave a second Miraculous Medal to Saint Teresa of Calcutta Community Catholic Church in St. Petersburg, Florida. The priest was elated to display a Miraculous Medal blessed by the Holy Mother in the church's reliquary. You can watch the presentation at. Dr. Tedesco's story begins about 26 minutes into the Mass. He ends his talk with a short quote from the ancient Buddhist scripture The Dhammapada!

Frank is looking for other recipients whose lives emulate Mother Teresa's selfless service to the neediest. Many, many people today are desperate for spiritual support. Twenty-four years later, and continents away, the Miraculous and Spiritual Medals are again providing the healing of Mother Teresa's love through a compassionate Buddhist teacher in Florida!

Choe Chong-dae is a guest columnist of The Korea Times. He is president of Dae-kwang International Co., and director of the Korean-Swedish Association. He can be reached at


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