I was baptized as a Catholic when I was six. I attended a convent school from 6 to 18. In those school years, I practised my religion fervently praying in the little chapel and attending mass almost every morning. My mother was worried sick that I might want to be a nun. I didn’t but a couple of my classmates did.
After graduation, I was so engrossed in working several jobs to support my family of ten that I virtually stopped going to church. That could be an excuse. There should be other reasons. These years, church visits are limited to celebrations and commemorations. This Tuesday, I attended the mass in memory of a nun, also my Chinese Language teacher who passed away a year ago. The mass was celebrated by a young priest. He gave a brief but thought-provoking sermon.
He recounted to us how as a novice, he and other novices, men and women, had to do community service in some of the deprived districts all over Hong Kong. That evening, they were in Shamshuipo distributing rice-boxes to the street-sleepers. They arrived at a slum under a footbridge and these homeless people were anxiously awaiting. They were the opposite of refinement. Tattooed and foul-mouthed, they did not restrain themselves even with the young ladies there. One of the male novices believed these street-sleepers had gone overboard and walked up to these men about to reprimand them when one of the lady novices cried out “Don’t! There is no need to stop them because I can see Jesus in them!”
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, or more fondly Mother Teresa, the recipient of numerous honours including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize had this quote which, to me, should be indelibly imprinted on all teachers’ mind.