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Lessons I learned from Mother Teresa: Humility, joy, and service, says author

ST. CHARLES, Il (The Catholic Observer) - “We give most when we give with joy,” was just one of Mother Teresa’s lessons shared by missionary, author, artist and television hostess Susan Conroy.

Conroy was the featured speaker at the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s (DCCW) biennial convention, April 12, at St. Patrick Parish in St. Charles.

A Mass celebrated by Bishop Thomas G. Doran and the installation of the new DCCW officers also took place during the day-long convention.

Conroy, who spent 11 years working with Mother Teresa, told the women gathered about life lessons she learned from this “modern-day saint.” “When I first came to India in 1986 at the age of 20, all I had was myself to give. Mother Teresa welcomed anyone with hands to serve, a heart to help and love to give,” Conroy said. “If you have hands and a heart the only other thing you need is joy, cheerfulness and a sense of humor.”

A native of Portland, Maine and the seventh of 10 children, Conroy was a student at Dartmouth College when she decided to travel to India and help out in the orphanages and homes for the dying. “Nothing I ever witnessed in my upbringing had prepared me for the poverty of Calcutta. I remember having to walk in the gutters because there were so many people actually sleeping and living in the streets.” Conroy’s sense of humor was also tested in India. “I’m not like St. Francis of Assisi; I don’t like bugs and in India, there are lots of cockroaches and lizards,” she joked. “Of course, when the other volunteers I worked with pointed out that the lizards ate the cockroaches; I grew to appreciate the lizards.”

The opportunity to learn spiritual lessons from Mother Teresa was a definite highlight of Conroy’s time in India. “When I arrived in India, my only training was having hands, a heart and joy in working with the orphans, the sick and the dying,” Conroy remarked.

“In working with Mother Teresa, I saw how her humility, willingness and love transformed the lives of others. From Mother Teresa I learned, ‘Joy is half the gift you bring.’”

‘You do it to me’

Conroy’s experiences in Calcutta working with Mother Teresa are the basis for her book, Mother Teresa: Lessons in Love and Secrets of Sanctity. From her work with Mother Teresa, Conroy was also inspired to render a drawing of two hands touching with Mother Teresa’s words, “you do it to me” inscribed on the fingers of the dominant hand.

Conroy has recently signed a contract with EWTN to host a mini-series on the lives of saints. The programs are set to begin airing in June.

Bishop Thomas G. Doran installed the new officers of the DCCW during Mass at the convention. They are: President Jeanette Gawronski, Church of the Holy Spirit, Roscoe; First Vice-President Sue Greskoviak, St. Patrick Parish, St. Charles; Second Vice-President Patricia Wightman, St. Joseph Parish, Richmond, and Treasurer Pat Leatherwood, St. Therese of Jesus Parish, Aurora. The day concluded with a prayer service.


This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of The Catholic Observer(, official newspaper of the Diocese of Rockford, Ill.



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1 - 3 of 3 Comments

  1. vincent
    4 years ago

    On the morning that Mother Theresa received the Nobel Prize,she stated:
    "Sixtythree thousand babies will not be born this year, because of my work!"

  2. Terri Cermignano
    4 years ago

    I just had the superb pleasure of watching Susan Conroy on EWTN tonight when she appeared with Fr. Mitch Pacwa on his program: "'EWTN LIVE". I must admit I turned it on not knowing that this beautiful and truly saintly young woman was going to appear. But I feel it was a blessing to watch her and listen to the lessons she has learned working with Blessed Mother Teresa and the poor and the dying in Calcutta along with the spirituality she has gotten from her favorite saint, (My patron Saint) St. Therese of the Child Jesus from Liseaux. (St. Therese truly does send you roses as a sign that she will answer your prayers, believe me.) It was good to hear someone else talk about her love for the The Greatest Saint of Modern Times
    abd her extraordinary experiences with Blessed Mother Teresa. Catch the show on rerun, it is well worth your while. I'm looking for her email address. I'm that impressed with this angelic, Spirit-filled young woman who is obviously in love with the Lord Jesus. To watch and listen to Susan Conroy is life changing. Terri C. Havertown, PA 6-30-10

  3. Eileen Huff
    5 years ago

    Would like to know where Susan Conroy is speaking next.

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