Resurrection Catholic School seventh and eighth grade religion classes had a visit Nov. 21 from a woman who met and worked with Saint Teresa of Calcutta as a member of the Missionaries of Charity. The married mother of two children misses her time with the order, but she doesn’t regret her decision to pursue a different path.
As a young girl from Lancaster, Wurster felt called to join a religious order after graduating from Lancaster Catholic High School. So, she joined the sisters of St. Francis and began studies to become a teacher.
“If you know anything about St. Francis, he’s all about the poor, so I read a lot about Mother Teresa and the poor,” Wurster explained. What she learned led her to leave the Franciscans to join the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa.
“That was culture shock. Everything we owned fit into a bucket,” she said.
“Everything” was two saris, two pairs of socks, one pair of shoes, one sweater, a Bible, a Christian prayer book, a book to keep track of faults, a Rosary, a crucifix, a tin cup, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a bar of Ivory soap.
Twenty sisters slept in one room. The women changed clothes underneath a sheet and looked, Wurster recalled, “like a bunch of ghosts kneeling beside their beds.”
All nuns take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but Missionaries of Charity added another: whole-hearted free service to the poorest of the poor. In the Bronx in New York City, they spent their days in service at homeless shelters, hospitals, prisons, soup kitchens, or serving elderly in their homes.
Talking to people they served was allowed, but talking to each other was prohibited except for 90 minutes a day – 30 minutes at lunch, 30 minutes at dinner and 30 more at recreation time after dinner. Grand Silence, as it was called, was for prayer. They didn’t look at each other, to avoid taking away from another’s prayer time.
One student asked if Wurster saw miracles. She had heard of many and even witnessed some herself.
Shortly after she arrived in the New York convent, a sister told her to go and pray for fruit. “I was skeptical and my prayer went something like, ‘I don’t know why I’m praying for this, but I am.’ Then the doorbell rang. I answered it, and there was a box of fruit someone had left for us.”
A memorable miracle that happened when Mother Teresa was visiting them, and Wurster experienced the miraculous through the power of the Rosary.
“There was a Tabernacle in the men’s shelter in the Bronx. Someone on the inside unbolted it and handed it out the window to someone on the outside. They wanted the gold of the ciborium,” Wurster said.
“Mother Teresa said, ‘We have to pray to get Jesus back.’ She was more concerned about the Eucharist than she was about the tabernacle or the ciborium,” Wurster said.
The saint hung a sign announcing the soup kitchen was closed “until we get Jesus back.” Then they prayed the Rosary. Mother Teresa called other convents and asked them to pray the Rosary. They prayed all day long.
Finally, they got a phone call from a lady who asked, “Are you looking for a box? It’s in the lot across the street.”
The tabernacle was broken and the gold ciborium was stolen but the six hosts it held were there.
“The Rosary is powerful,” Wurster told the students. “Mother Teresa always carried the Rosary. Wherever she was, she was praying the Rosary.”
Wurster had other stories for the students in the 40 minutes she was with them, including her description of Mother Teresa as a small person with “the most beautiful blue eyes,” the kind that see your soul.
When a student asked if she regretted her decision to leave the order, Wurster looked thoughtful and said she is happy with her life now but she thinks nostalgically of that time and of Mother Teresa.
“She left me with these words, ‘Be only all for Jesus.’”
Wurster ended by reading a prayer written on the wall of Saint Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta.
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.