I’m back from Calcutta and still having nightmares

I didn’t want to write this. Probably because I didn’t want to think about it. Since I returned home from Calcutta, I’ve been trying to shake off what first seemed like a major case of jetlag. I’ve been referring to it as my “India hangover.” I’m battling extreme fatigue and trying to laugh it off, and I’ve been waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, terrified that I’m still there. I’ve been avoiding conversations about it, and not even wanting to archive the photos I took. Something’s been seriously off. So this morning, in an …

The Sacred Trail

I don’t remember the exact moment it happened, but I remember the pain. It was March 13, 2013. I was standing in St. Peter’s Square in Rome at the Papal Conclave waiting with several other journalists for some smoke to arise either announcing the new pope or not. It felt like someone had jammed a hot knife into my right shoulder, it was absolutely blinding. The pain began to radiate out and in a few moments I couldn’t feel the fingers in my right hand. Perfect. I had been on assignment to cover the Conclave, which was rather chaotic and …

The Prayer of the Atheist

Don’t judge me, but I love heavy metal music. In fact, I spent the first half of my adult life completely immersed in the genre. It has a certain guttural power that other forms of music lack, and there’s something deeply visceral and rebellious that is at its heart. All I know is that I love it. So when I reverted to the Catholic faith and I began to seek out that relationship of all relationships with Jesus Christ, certain ‘things’ started to nag at me as my conscience became awakened. For example, ‘Man in a Box’ by Alice in …

I put away my camera in Calcutta … and learned to see

Today I put away my camera to join the volunteers who assist the Missionaries of Charity with their work. There were about 80 of us, of different nationalities, religions, and backgrounds, deployed as one unit into the field. Knowing no one and nothing of navigating the streets of Calcutta posed some challenges, but my friend Sr. Ita came to my rescue again and introduced me to two volunteers from Egypt, Bassem and Iriny, who happened to be going to the locations I was. Continue reading…

Calcutta celebrates the canonization of Mother Teresa

Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta — where Mother Teresa first heard her call to help the poorest of the poor — joyfully celebrated today the canonization of their founder. As the Pope in Rome officially declared Mother Teresa a canonized saint, her sisters in India celebrated with volunteers, children and other devotees of the tireless nun who brought the attention of the world to the plight of the poor. “Following Jesus is a serious task, and, at the same time, one filled with joy; it takes a certain daring and courage to recognize the divine Master in the poorest of …

I touched her arm… and she touched my heart

Today I went to the Motherhouse not knowing what to expect, but knowing I had to be there. During this time in Calcutta, I’ve been praying to Mother Teresa, asking her to direct and guide me … to tell or show me what she wants to be revealed through what I do. The morning was simple enough. I attended a 6:00 a.m. Mass with the sisters and volunteers and then spent some time at the foot of Mother Teresa’s tomb. I prayed, I took some photos, and I wrote about seeing the face of Christ in the Poor. It was …

Now I see why Mother Teresa chose Calcutta

If Christ is present in the poor, then the heart of Christ must be in Calcutta. You can’t escape the suffering and hardship that seethes in the streets amid the dust, noise and smog of the city. When I set off on this journey to seek Mother Teresa, to really understand her faith, one of my initial questions was, why Calcutta? Now that I’m here, that question has been answered. When she arrived here in the late 1920s she taught and administered at the St. Teresa School as a novice with the Sisters of Loreto — it was her first …

Seeking Mother Teresa (and God) in Calcutta

(Practicing Mercy #38) Take a few minutes during the week to stop at a church and sit before the Tabernacle simply to be with Christ, the Merciful. If you cannot do that, meditate upon the crucifix. The first time I felt the nudge, I was kneeling in St. Mary’s Church in Krakow during World Youth Day. I was still processing everything that I’d experienced that week, when Mother Teresa came to mind. She had so much faith, so much trust, I thought … and look where it led. As I left the church, I couldn’t shake my musings about the intensity of her …

Why You Should Care About World Youth Day

People accuse folks of ‘not being present’ during the big events in their lives because all they care about is snapping a picture with their phones, or grabbing a selfie with a celeb. As a photojournalist, I’m the worst. When I’m covering events, I rarely experience the significance of what’s happening before me. In fact, I try to block it out. My full attention is on getting a photo that might tell the story. Add to that the concerns of security checks, language barriers, and finding the best place to shoot — yep, I’m barely even ‘there.’ But in covering an …

Sisters of Life Throw a Block Party to Celebrate 25 Years of Pro-Life Ministry

Under the soaring roof of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, Cardinal Timothy Dolan praised the “fresh and young religious institute” of the Sisters of Life in a Mass of Thanksgiving for the order’s 25th anniversary on June 1. And the cardinal also passed on a message from the Dominicans, who just celebrated their 800th anniversary: “Tell those kids congratulations!” In his homily, Cardinal Dolan described the Sisters of Life as a “breath of hope” for consecrated religious life. “A quarter century ago, we worried – we worried that consecrated religious life was in trouble,” mused the Cardinal. But …