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Better ways to care for the dying


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Surely I shall never forget my first encounter with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It was in November of 1970 and I was teaching at Catholic University. We had received notice that the university was awarding an honorary doctorate to a missionary nun in the Caldwell Auditorium. Realizing that few people would bother to attend, I decided "to make the sacrifice" in solidarity with a fellow religious. Only a handful of people showed up. Cardinal Patrick O'Boyle presided and Eileen Egan, an early follower of Dorothy Day who was at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) was charged with introducing the nun to the assembly. None of us had ever heard of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Eileen Egan described her first meeting with Mother Teresa in the streets of the slums of Calcutta. She described seeing a wheelbarrow containing the filthy body of a dying man covered with open sores filled with maggots. She said that it seemed that the wheelbarrow moved on its own. Then she spied the diminutive nun pushing it. She learned that Mother and her sisters, for twenty years had been gathering the dying people abandoned in the streets, carrying them to an old former Hindu temple and taking care of them so that they could die surrounded by love.

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