'Mother Teresa: No Greater Love'
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
"Mother Teresa: No Greater Love" is not only a film, but a heartwarming and powerful work documenting the heroic and humble legacy of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, twenty-five years after her death.
The film - a copy of which was presented to Pope Francis by the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus on Wednesday - was presented in three events in Rome and the Vatican this week.
Seeing Christ in every person
Produced by the Knights of Columbus and filmed on five continents, the documentary features unprecedented access to both institutional archives and the apostolates of the Missionaries of Charity.
The film chronicles Mother Teresa's entire life and the tremendous global impact the Missionaries of Charity continue to have today, as they privately and humbly do their work, to help "the poorest of the poor" seeing always "Christ in every single person."
“Mother Teresa: No Greater Love” will be released in theaters throughout the United States by Fathom Events on Monday and Tuesday, 3-4 October.
This film is part of Fathom Events’ “Saint Series,” a curated collection of films chronicling the lives of Catholic saints.
The Film has been presented in the Filmoteca Vaticana, Vatican Radio's Sala Marconi, and the Pontifical North American College.
'A pencil in the hand of the Lord'
The new Rector of the Pontifical North American College (NAC), Monsignor Thomas Powers, recalled the visits of Mother Teresa, and how her "humble and holy example left a long-lasting impact on the lives of the men there."
The Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Patrick Kelly, spoke to Vatican News about what inspired the Knights to spearhead this endeavor, and also remembered her unforgettable visit to the Knights' headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut.
"I think about when she says that she was the pencil in the hand of God," said Mr. Kelly. "That means a lot to me, because I try in my spiritual life to surrender to the Lord and the Lord has moved me along in the Knights of Columbus to be the leader of the Knights of Columbus. But I try to use that in such a way that's to help people to be a witness of charity and to really do what the Lord wants us to do. And I pray for that every day."
Also present at the NAC screening was well-known actor, Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus in the highly-acclaimed TV series "The Chosen".
He told Vatican News that learning more about her "long period of suffering," her "own dark night of the soul," really moved him.
"I had no idea that it lasted that long in her life. And also the fact that she had visions and heard Jesus's voice early on, was something I didn't even know at all," he said.
Mr. Roumie called the documentary "really fascinating" and "moving," saying it sheds so much light on her courageous and holy life and eventual sainthood.
He also suggested the film could greatly inspire young people.
"I think for young people to kind of experience her story and be moved by it and what she did with the Missionaries of charities, I think it's going to inspire many people to to seek out the Order, and want to emulate the qualities that she possessed."
25 Years to 'soak up' her legacy
In addition, the film's director and senior producer, David Naglieri, told Vatican News what inspired his involvement in this project.
"We've had 25 years to kind of have soaking time to digest the legacy of Mother Teresa," he said, noting much information about her came out after her death, specifically when they did "research into their cause for canonization."
"They found these letters that she would write to her spiritual advisors about pain and about suffering that she went through about this dark night of the soul that was not known during her lifetime. So a lot of films made previously do not really explore those areas. I think our film is able to kind of put a correct theological understanding and a framework to some of this information that came out later."
'Not publicity seekers,' all for Christ
Mr. Naglieri also expressed another aspect that sets the documentary apart, namely the "great privilege" for him and the Knights of Columbus to have "unprecedented access" to all the postulates of the Missionaries of Charity.
The film takes viewers to the slums, to where the sisters including Mother Teresa herself were literally being shot at in Chicago, to serving indigenous peoples that have no contact with the outside world, to the slums outside Rio de Janeiro, where the drug dealers live, to borders, to projects, and to put it bluntly, he suggested, to all the places where no one else would ever go.
Visceral sense of reality of Missionaries of Charity
All these different locations, he said, really offer "a visceral sense of the Missionaries of Charity, their mission, and how they continue to teach us to love and to serve the poorest of the poor."
Mr. Naglieri noted how 25 years after her death, "you have a generation of young people graduating college, entering into the workforce who were born after she died, who don't know about Mother Teresa the way my generation did, where she's on TV and she's visiting your city and she's got a bestselling book."
The film's director lamented how many are not necessarily introduced to her spirituality and to her mission.
Transformative figure who can inspire our faith
"My hope is that this film can inspire Catholics and non-Catholics alike, because I think Mother Teresa had the ability to transcend geographic, religious and cultural divides," he said.
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