Letter from Mother Teresa arrives for longtime admirer in Garland

    Hillol Ray of Garland, a native of Calcutta, says he’ll pass the letter he received from Mother Teresa last week on to his sons, along with memories of her good works. Hillol Ray couldn’t believe it Thursday when he found a letter from Calcutta among the other mail at his Garland home. Mother Teresa had been dead five days – and was scheduled to be buried in less than 48 hours – but here, in his hand, was a personal letter from the woman Mr. Ray had admired most of his life.

    “I was speechless,” Mr. Ray, who grew up in Calcutta, said Saturday. “I got home and just happened to open it and I was speechless. Tears came to my eyes. “The letter was in response to a poem that Mr. Ray wrote about the Nobel Peace Prize-winning nun on her 87th birthday in November.

    He mailed the poem to Mother Teresa’s order, the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, just last month.

    “I wrote the poem to her, wishing her well on her birthday, and also I described her lifelong activities in the form of a poem to let her know those things were being appreciated,” said Mr. Ray, 47, an environmental engineer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “As a poet, it came from my heart. “

    And now he has a simply written letter on Missionaries of Charity letterhead: “Dear Hillol Ray, Thank you very much for your kind letter and the accompanied poem. I do appreciate your thoughtfulness and send my best wishes and blessings to you in your effort to touch the hearts of people of our society through the poems. Keep the joy of loving God in each other.

    God bless you, Mother Teresa” Mr. Ray said he will pass along her words – and memories of her good works – to his sons, Brian, 13, and Ryan, 10.
    Growing up in Calcutta, Mr. Ray saw Mother Teresa’s work in action.

    Mr. Ray’s father died at an early age, leaving a wife and three young sons. Mr. Ray’s mother had a difficult time raising the children on her own, but she never gave up and always instilled in her sons the importance of helping others.

    Just like Mother Teresa, she would say.

    Mr. Ray watched and videotaped Mother Teresa’s funeral, which started late Friday night, Dallas time, and ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

    The funeral coverage will join other videotapes about Mother Teresa that he has recorded since her death eight days ago. His collection also includes clips from newspapers and magazines.

    “It is for my kids, for when they are more mature they will be able to see it and think about Mother Teresa and what she did and the legacy she left behind,” Mr. Ray said.

    Just hours before the funeral carriage of Mother Teresa made its way through the streets of Calcutta, natives of her adopted country gathered in a tiny Garland church to embrace her memory.

    About 120 congregants of St. Thomas the Apostle Indian Catholic Church said farewell to a woman whose spiritual power, they said, will always resonate from her Calcutta home half a world away.

    But they did not mourn as they spoke of a new beginning for “the mother and her children. “ “Today, Calcutta seems to be the world’s capital,” the Rev. Peter Kocherry said in his eulogy. “One more saint is being entombed. India is holier than yesterday. We are so fortunate and privileged to be gathered here at the same time. We are gathered here, not because of her death. We are gathered here because of her life, a life so beautiful, a life so vibrant, a life so holy. “ St. Thomas serves segments of an Indian population that numbers about 40,000 in the area and is as culturally diverse as the subcontinent itself. Only about 2 percent of India’s population is Christian.

    Jolly Kakkanatt, a mother of three who was wearing a bright red sari, said she was not saddened by Mother Teresa’s death.

    “She was very great,” Ms. Kakkanatt said. “I don’t think she’s gone. She’s up there and looking out for us. “

    Staff writer Todd Bensman contributed to this report.

    PHOTO(S): (The Dallas Morning News: Andy Scott) Hillol Ray of Garland, a native of Calcutta, says he’ll pass the letter he received from Mother Teresa last week on to his sons, Brian and Ryan, along with memories of her good works.

    ©  Copyright 1997 The Dallas Morning News Company



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