Read what Brian Gall shared with Father Steve about his experience this summer volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India.
Fr. Steve: Brian, why don’t you introduce yourself.
Brian: My name is Brian Gall, I just graduated from UK in May with a degree in chemical engineering. I’m from Ft. Thomas, Kentucky where I grew up and lived my whole life before coming to UK.
Fr. Steve: Tell me what you did this summer.
Brian: For the first three weeks in June, I went with another friend to India. We mainly worked in Calcutta with the Missionaries of Charity which is the order that Mother Teresa started. We worked there in a home for the destitute and dying. We volunteered there working with the sisters. We also did a little bit of traveling around India while we were there.
Fr. Steve: What motivated you to do this this summer on your break between graduating from college and going to seminary in the fall?
Brian: Since we both graduated, we wanted to do a big trip and we both love doing mission work so we wanted to do that. We also both love Mother Teresa and the work that she does, so we decided that India was the perfect place for us to go and see the work she did and walk where she walked.
Fr. Steve: Who went with you?
Brian: Another friend, Marcus Monty, who graduated with me.
Fr. Steve: What was the most exhilarating thing about working with the Sisters in Calcutta?
Brian: I think just seeing the work they do. It’s hard seeing the conditions and the poverty, but seeing the joy they live with even though they have most everything that our culture would say wouldn’t allow for joy. It was very beautiful seeing how they lived and how much they touched the lives of the people they worked with.
Fr. Steve: What exactly did you do for them?
Brian: In the mornings we worked in the home for the destitute and dying. We started with laundry, either hanging it on the roof or helping them hand wash it. Then throughout the rest of the time, we would do random tasks: maybe shaving guys, or clipping fingernails and toenails, give massages. A lot of time was just sitting with the men there and showing them love and attention; showing that they had dignity and that someone loves them.
Fr. Steve: What part of scripture came to your mind the most as you were doing this work with the Sisters and taking care of those that had been forgotten and needed such help.
Brian: Definitely, Matthew 25 where Jesus says, “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me.” These were people that had a lot of suffering in their lives. Much of their lives weren’t easy; they were filled with suffering. They were hungry, thirsty and many without homes. Jesus tells us whatever we do for them, we are actually doing to Him. It was very beautiful to go there and through serving them to be able to serve Christ.
Fr. Steve: How has your experience going to Calcutta and working with the Missionaries of Charity going to change your life here in the United States?
Brian: I think it’s so easy in the United States to get wrapped up and involved in the small things. In the big scheme, these things don’t really matter. I really want to make an emphasis on giving up myself and my time to service to other people. The poverty may not be as bad here in the US – the physical poverty – but the spiritual poverty is. People are longing to be loved, longing to be showed attention. I want to be like Mother Teresa was a light to the people of Calcutta; I want to be that to the people here in the United States.
Fr. Steve: What other types of people did you meet there who were volunteering with you?
Brian: We met people from all over the world. There were a few other groups from the United States; college students and older people. We also met people from France, Spain, Belgium, Argentina, New Zealand; all different types of people from all different walks of life. We met Catholics, Protestants, atheists, and agnostics. We met people that were retired, doctors, people from all walks of life.
Fr. Steve: Do you want to say something about being able to pray at her tomb?
Brian: It was very special. Every day we went to the Mother House, where her tomb is before we volunteered, to pray. It was very powerful being able to pray right there and talk to her and give my intentions right to her. I know she’s giving my intentions right to Jesus; whatever prayers I ask of her; she’s giving them right to Jesus.
Fr. Steve: So Mother Teresa is being canonized on September 4th. Tell me about your relationship with her and her inspiration to you and what you think about this upcoming canonization.
Brian: Mother Teresa has had a huge impact on my life over the past five or six months. She has had a huge influence in changing my spiritual life. After she died and more of her writings came out, we saw this darkness in her life and that she struggled with her relationship with God, yet she always exhibited this joy and this smile. Her faith had such a deep foundation. I’m extremely excited to see this canonization. Through all her work, she has definitely become my favorite saint; she has given a great example upon which to live.