Only a few Sundays ago, World Day of the Poor commenced around the world in the Catholic Church.
In India, where Saint Mother Teresa spent most of her life caring for the poor before her death, World Day of the Poor was held in her honor.
More specifically, the day was observed “in memory of her words.”
When Mother Teresa was canonized in 2016, Port Lavaca broker Russell Cain donated an authenticated letter signed by the famous Catholic Mother to Our Lady of the Gulf School.
Her gentle words to Charles Irion, thanking him for his generosity in sharing her works, spoke of love and serving the “poorest of the poor.” Cain’s framed donation with a copy of Mother Teresa’s portrait hangs in the school for all the students to read and admire.
“I held onto that letter for three years before we donated it to the school,” said Cain, speaking of the donation from him and his wife, Cherre Cain, which they purchased from an antiquities dealer, American Historical Guild in New York.
Cain, an Episcopalian, had previously purchased several historical letters from the dealer written by former Presidents Richard Nixon, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. So when the dealer called in 2013 and said he had a letter from Mother Teresa, he said, “Yes, I’m very interested.”
“When she was made a saint, I thought I should give it to the school. I thought about giving it to the Victoria Diocese, but we thought it would have more of an effect on those children’s lives,” he said, remembering about 100 children were there the day he donated Mother Teresa’s letter.
Following the completion of a massive and long-awaited renovation of Our Lady of the Gulf Church in Port Lavaca, the Cains decided to make another Mother Teresa donation.
This time, Cain commissioned a watercolor of Teresa, painted by Texas artist Lisa Motley, and had a corresponding bronze marker inscribed with Mother Teresa’s life story.
“This was a surprise gift, and I was really very touched by his gesture,” said the Rev. Tommy Chen, pastor of Our Lady of the Gulf. “I think seeing her picture and reading the plaque will be an inspiration to all our members to imitate her.”
Chen said Teresa’s life was an example to everyone about love and service and has always been held up as an example.
Now that she’s a Catholic saint, she offers a new way for Catholics to connect with her.
“I think it’s helpful to have a more contemporary saint. She allows us to see even modern people can be holy,” Chen said.
Mother Teresa’s letter remains at Our Lady of the Gulf School, and her portrait and bronze plaque are hanging near the prayer altar of the church.
Cain said even though he’s not a Catholic, he has many friends who attend the church who he hopes will be blessed by her presence, just as he was.
“I learned from all the things she did for other people, and I’ve always been impressed with her,” Cain said. “I hope when people see her, they’re inspired to do the things she did.”
Cain, too, is attempting to follow Teresa’s lead, believing many will be blessed when one person is mobilized to be generous.
“I learned it from my grandmother May Cain. She said, ‘Boy, if you want to go far in life, then always give back. It will come back to you tenfold,” Cain said. “My grandmother instilled that in me, and I’ve always believed when you do something for someone else, it can have a big effect on their life. That’s what I hope will happen with these gifts.”