As sisters Irene and Maureen Boyd celebrated the canonization of St. Teresa of Kolkata earlier this month, they felt, once again, a close personal connection to the saint. In 1991, when the Boyd sisters were caring for their mother with Alzheimer’s disease, Maureen wrote a letter to then-Mother Teresa and received a personal response. “It meant a lot,” she said.
The two exchanged two more letters after that. “We were just amazed,” Irene Boyd said of receiving a personalized typed letter, signed by Mother Teresa. “We never expected anything like that would happen.”
The letters, addressed to Maureen, mention the Boyds’ mother, also named Irene, and offer prayers and words of support for the sisters, who were their mother’s primary caregivers during her long illness. “These were very personal, not form letters,” said Irene Boyd, a parishioner at St. Joseph Church in Madison.
“Let us pray for her that she may let Jesus share His Passion with her and allow Him to live His life in her. This is true holiness for Irene. Thank you for sharing her beautiful poem,” reads the second letter St. Teresa wrote, referring to a poem that Maureen sent, written years earlier by her mother.
The letters were exchanged in 1991, during which time the Boyd sisters were caring for their mother, and coping with other family members who were ill or had recently passed away. “It was a series of sadness,” Maureen said, but the letters from St. Teresa “brought me a lot of comfort.”
The Boyd sisters share a deep respect for St. Teresa. “From the minute I heard her story, I admired her and her love for the poor,” said Maureen, a member of Holy Name Parish.
“The type of love she gave when she cared for people who were so poor and dying in the streets, that’s a very powerful thing,” said Irene, who is still in awe “that someone like her would be personally interceding for us.”
While caring for a sick family member can be trying, Irene said, she took comfort that St. Teresa faced her own trials, even struggling with her faith through “a dark night of the soul,” but never completely losing trust or faith in God.
The Boyd sisters were happy to see St. Teresa canonized earlier this month, and to have a direct link to her through the letters. “She emulated Christ in so many ways, her love for people and her example of giving herself to others, that’s really important to me,” said Maureen.