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By Thomas F. O'Neill

Mother Teresa of Calcutta worthy to be on a commemorative U. S. postage stamp

On September the 5th 2010 the U.S. postal service honored Mother Teresa of Calcutta with a commemorative postage stamp. Many in the Pennsylvania coal region where I was born and raised went out and purchased the stamps.

I am sure I would have purchased the 44 cent stamps as well if I was in the U.S. to purchase them. A friend of mine in America purchased 10 dollars’ worth. She mailed the stamps to me here in China and I only have five stamps left. My students here asked me for the others and I obliged their curiosity. They love everything American including American postage stamps.

There are some people in Northeastern Pennsylvania that are angered that the U.S. postal service never honored the coal miners with a commemorative stamp. Some Congressman and Senators are pushing the cause because there are people like myself who feel the coal miners’ hard work and sacrifice is virtually forgotten by the coal regions youth.

I am a great admirer of what Mother Teresa of Calcutta accomplished in her lifetime and she is deserving of all the honors bestowed upon her.

According to the Mother Teresa’s biography on, “Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia.”

“Agnes left her home in 1928 to join the Sisters of Loretto in Ireland. Six weeks later, she was sent to India as a teacher for the Sisters' school in Calcutta. While teaching in Calcutta, Mother Teresa began her work with the poor and sick, a work that would become her life's calling.”

“Working tirelessly for the less fortunate for more than 50 years garnered much recognition for Mother Teresa. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan in 1985, and honorary U.S. citizenship in 1996 – an honor she shares with only six other individuals. In 2003, the Knights of Columbus dedicated a Mother Teresa statue in her honor (one of several such statues around the world). There has even been a Mother Teresa movie and a documentary made in honor of the founder of the Missionaries of Charity.”

Mother Teresa died in Calcutta India on 5 September, 1997.

As you can see from she was greatly revered throughout the world due to the compassion she showed towards the sick and dying.

I discovered that all the major religions in India revered and loved her because she was a great humanitarian. She reached out to the unseen, the undetected, and the downtrodden with deep warmth and caring. She recognized the physical and spiritual longing of those in great need and she responded openly. The organization she founded the ‘Missionaries of Charity’ may have started out in 1948 caring for the sick and dying on the streets of Calcutta, India. Today, however, her organization reaches out to the most impoverished places throughout world. Her overall life’s devotion caring for the physical and spiritual needs of others, Mother Teresa, in death, is still universally respected and loved.

I worked directly with Mother Teresa in Calcutta in the early 1990’s. I also witnessed the Missionaries of Charity’s work in Ecuador, Malaysia, Australia, Washington DC, and the Bronx, New York. I spoke with Mother Teresa, almost on daily bases, when I was in Calcutta. I can still recall those conversations as if we spoke yesterday. She was deeply open and personnel with others when it came to spiritual matters.

What Mother Teresa possessed is not solely a religious trait it’s part of our humanity. Our spirituality is woven into the essence of what makes us human. Life whether we realize it or not is synonymous with the essence of god’s love.

We all know right from wrong the difficulty for most is doing the right thing when the right thing is called for. Mother Teresa’s spirituality led her to become proactive with a deep desire to be the presence of god to others. She believed every person she came in contact with was for a reason. Her spirituality impacted the lives of others in a positive way. Mother Teresa’s life’s work was not a mere religious platitude. She truly became a living and breathing act of love, especially, for those dying of AID’s.

In the early 90’s, AID’s victims, were referred to as ‘the modern day lepers,’ by many Roman Catholic Priests. Religious leaders told others to pray for the sick and dying. Mother Teresa on the other hand was building centers throughout the world to care for the sick and dying.

Her organization also has a center located in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania just three miles from my hometown of Shenandoah. I visited the center their twice and spoke to the Nuns about my experiences with the “Missionaries of Charity.”

Mother Teresa visited Mahanoy City in 1995 a few years before she died. I can remember a conversation I had with Mother Teresa in India about the deep poverty in Schuylkill County, PA. One year later her organization opened a center there and her Nuns are still in Mahanoy City. The name of the Church she visited in 1995 in Mahanoy City was changed to ‘Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta’ to honor her.

There were many other great spiritual leaders throughout history, Mahatma Gandhi, and Saint Francs of Assisi, come to mind. Their lives were also shining examples of how their spirituality transcended the religious divisions of their day. Their humane compassion was not rooted in ill willed fundamentalist beliefs but rather their lives were rooted in what makes us compassionate human beings.

When we reach out and touch those in need both physically and spiritually we become the light to help those living in darkness see more clearly. We also can become the presence of god with a simple kind word whispered from one heart to the other.

Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi they are both worthy to be on commemorative U.S. Postage stamps because of their spiritual significance, stature, and life achievements.

As for the coal miners, I come from a long line of coal miners but my ancestors immigrated to the Pennsylvania coal region not because coal mining was such a great job. On the contrary, they immigrated to the coal region and labored so that their children and their children’s children can have better opportunities as Americans.

I agree that the coal miners should be honored on a commemorative U.S. postage stamp because they are truly deserving of such an honor.

Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill

Phone: (800) 272-6464

China Cell: 011-86-15114565945

Skype: thomas_f_oneill


Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


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