Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Seeing Christ In The World’s Rejects

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published August 19, 2010

Sometimes a simple question can change your life forever. For my husband and me, the wheels were set in motion for a life-changing event on an ordinary Sunday at St. Thomas More Church in Decatur. That day in 1994, Father Pat Mulhern introduced four rather shy nuns to the congregation. After Mass, Jef and I talked with them for a while, asking if they needed help with anything. And the rest, as they say, is history.

You see, for the next year or so, we worked every Saturday with the sisters plus a crew of other volunteers. We painted, sanded, hammered and cleaned; we perspired, persevered and prayed. All of us had the goal of transforming a rather bedraggled house on St. Charles Avenue into a beautiful home for women suffering from AIDS.

To be honest, though, when Jef and I first stepped inside the house, we were somewhat disheartened. We saw a broken-down place with sagging floors, dirty walls and ancient plumbing. The sisters, however, saw the possibilities.

And that was the truth about Mother Teresa too. She would see a dying person in the street, filthy and starved, someone that others considered a complete throwaway—and she glimpsed the soul shining within. She looked into the eyes of the rejects—and she saw Christ there. This motivated her to bring about tender changes in the person’s life with as much love as if she were ministering to Christ on the cross.

As we helped the sisters, we saw plenty of changes ourselves. In the house, walls gleamed with fresh paint and floors glistened with shining tiles. And we were being transformed too. My husband was in the process of converting to Catholicism, and I was making my way back. Neither of us had ever heard Mother Teresa’s favorite verse from St. Matthew in which Jesus tells us exactly where to find him: in the world’s hungry, poor, sick and imprisoned. What a shock that passage was to us. After so many years of wondering where God was, we finally had the answer, stated so simply and convincingly.

It seemed to take forever, but finally the renovations were completed. And then one day we heard the news: Mother Teresa was coming to town in June of 1995 for the blessing of the house, to be called The Gift of Grace. We were thrilled to be counted among the folks attending the special Mass celebrated by Archbishop John F. Donoghue.

After the Mass, all the volunteers lined up to receive a blessing from Mother. I could see her saying a prayer as she gently touched each person on the shoulders. When it was my turn, I was quite overcome with emotion, and right after she lifted her arms to bless me, I repeated the gesture. This brought big smiles from the nearby sisters, one of whom said, “Oh, look, there’s Lorraine giving Mother a blessing.”

After this momentous day, it wasn’t long before women began arriving. Many were desperately ill, lonely, forgotten. But at the Gift of Grace, under the sisters’ gentle care, these women learned about God’s love for them. Many of the ladies had never had a birthday party, but the sisters made sure that every woman had a cake and presents—and a sense of being special. Through the sisters, the ladies experienced God’s abiding love.

That day long ago, when we met Mother Teresa—now known as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta—one volunteer perfectly summed up her ministry to the world’s poor. He described Mother by telling a reporter, “You can see Christ in her eyes.” All these years later, as the world commemorates what would have been her 100th birthday on Aug. 26, I believe that is why so many hearts were converted and so many souls saved. This humble woman and her sisters walked the path trod by St. Paul, who put it so beautifully when he said, “It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.” And the blessings that come from meeting such people truly change hearts forever.

The Murrays are parishioners at St. Thomas More Church in Decatur. Artwork is by Jef Murray ( Readers may e-mail the Murrays at