Mother Teresa’s nuns still quietly serve the poor at D.C. convent

Source: The Washington Post

By Julie Zauzmer

Greg Zingler watched a movie about Mother Teresa six years ago and was awed by the world-famous nun’s compassionate service to the poor. He went to the Basilica of the National Shrine in the District and asked: Is there any chance that any of Mother Teresa’s nuns are here in D.C.?

The Missionaries of Charity keep a low profile — the nuns in the order that Mother Teresa founded refuse interviews, keep to their convent’s grounds at almost all times and don’t even have a website to tell neighbors that they do indeed have a presence here in the District. But Zingler went to the address that the Basilica receptionist gave him, and there a nun agreed to give him a tour of the convent and adjoining nursing home.

“This hallway is where the live-in volunteers stay,” she told Zingler.

 He hadn’t even known that living at the convent was an option. Within half an hour, he had a key to his room. Six years on, he hasn’t left.At the Missionaries of Charity facility in Northeast Washington, he now helps care for 51 ill and aging men and women alongside 34 nuns and nuns-in-training. It is a place apart from the rest of Washington, secluded from curious neighbors by expansive gardens. And it is a place suffused with veneration for Mother Teresa, who will become a saint in the Catholic Church on Sunday.

The nuns speak of Mother Teresa, who died in 1997, as simply “Mother,” a familiar inspiration who beams down from the walls in almost every room. The first thing one sees upon entering the building is a glass-encased wheelchair that she once sat in, followed by a cabinet full of relics — a tiny square cut from a sheet she once used, a bit of leather from her sandal, a piece of tube used to draw her blood.

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