Fr Lush Gjergji is the vicar of Prizren, in Kosovo. "As soon as I met Mother Teresa in 1968, I quickly realised she was a saint." The priest hopes that in 2017 Pope Francis will consecrate the shrine under construction. He talks about the question of the "dark night", the homes of the Missionaries of Charity, the size of the Catholic Church in Kosovo.
Rome (AsiaNews) – In 2007, in Pristina, capital of Kosovo, "we began building the Mother Teresa Cathedral. Masses started in 2010, but the building is not yet complete. In 2017, on the day of the first anniversary of the canonisation of Mother, we would like to have the shrine dedicated to her consecrated and hope that Pope Francis will do so," said Fr Lush Gjergji, vicar general of the diocese of Prizren, in Kosovo, who spoke to AsiaNews on the sidelines of the celebrations in the Vatican for the proclamation of the saint of Calcutta.
Recalling the day he met Mother Teresa in the fall of 1968, he said, "My first feeling was this: in front of me I had a great saint. She became the mother of my vocation, a constant inspiration for my life."
Father Lush is the official biographer of Mother Teresa, whom she met when he was young because of family connection to the founder of the Missionaries of Charity. His aunt Mrika and his mother Dile were contemporaries of Mother Teresa and spent their childhood in Skopje. Even before he met her in Rome in 1968, Father Lush had already heard about the nun, whose family and local priests "preached her life and works."
"When I met her,” he noted, “I felt right away the holiness of the Mother and at that moment I decided that I wanted to dedicate a good part of my life to know her more closely: the family, the parish life, the roots of this great marvel of goodness and love. "
The priest believes he "kept the promise, with 15 books devoted to the life of Teresa Mother”, including the first full biography. As he put it, "I tried to follow her for her entire life, until her ‘return to the Father's house'."
Of the numerous meetings with the saint of Calcutta – when she received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 1979, the opening of several homes of the Missionaries of Charity in Eastern Europe, five visits in Kosovo, ten days in Calcutta in 1989, and others – "Each meeting was like the first, attractive, deep, motherly."
The priest also cites Mother Teresa who always, “looking at the five fingers of the hand, would repeat every day that it was her Gospel: 'What will I do today for Jesus?'. This is the best test of the Christian conscience."
As for the "dark night", the period in which Mother Teresa experienced the "silence of God", Father Lush said: "It was a period when God put her to the test. It was a long and tough test; she felt as if she had been abandoned by the Lord. But Mother Teresa's response was outstanding: perseverance in the faith and fidelity in love. This testifies to the great holiness of the Mother, her ability to suffer and offer everything to God and her fellows."
"Without suffering and sacrifice, she would no longer be herself, much less the Missionary of Charity, so bold a person to face all evil in the modern world. She said: 'Without love and sacrifice, life does not make sense'.”
Fr Lush is convinced that the canonisation of Mother will bring many blessings to the Church in Kosovo. "Mother Teresa is the most beautiful expression of our Albanian tradition that respects and practices hospitality, generosity, sense of family life, ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue".
Regarding the relationship with other religions, the vicar of Prizren notes that the local church has good ties with the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Islamic community, with which "we seek different points of meeting and collaboration for the common good".
Incidentally, despite the small number of Catholics in the country, about 60,000 (3 per cent of the population), Kosovo has "provided some priests and religious to Albania, the European Diaspora and the US."
The priest is also happy about the valuable work done by the Missionaries of Charity. They are "respected by everyone", taking care of the poor, the elderly, the abandoned, in homes in Peja and Skopje (founded by Mother in 1982 and 1980 respectively).
Finally, he hopes that Pope Francis will consecrate the new shrine dedicated to the saint. "This will be a good opportunity for pilgrimages on Mother Teresa's footsteps: Prizren, where her parents were born; Skopje, where the saint was born; Letnica, where she decided to become a nun to help the world's poor".