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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Interview With Brian Kolodiejchuk

Aired October 19, 2003 - 09:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: The road to sainthood is paved with many challenges. And for Mother Teresa, the process was no less arduous, but it was expedited. Pope John Paul II granted a special dispensation and allowed the march to sainthood to begin two years after her 1997 death rather than the five years normally required. Father Brian Kolodiejchuk served as principal advocate for Mother Teresa's cause of beatification. He is also the co-founder of the priestly branch of her Missionaries of Charity.
Father Brian, thanks so much for being with us this morning. We do appreciate it.

REV. BRIAN KOLODIEJCHUK, MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY: You're welcome.

COLLINS: We want to know what it is about Mother Teresa that brought you in to all that she stands for. I know that you have been her principal advocate for the cause of beatification, as we have said. Why?

KOLODIEJCHUK: Well, I think it began for me when I was just a young man, and I'd like to say that Mother Teresa kind of fished me out, because she was the one who actually invited me to join a group of her brothers that was just beginning. And from that time, already at that time, I, along with others, had a sense that this was a holy woman.

And I think after doing all of the work in the last four and a half years, I really have come to understand much more deeply, much more intimately Mother Teresa, and especially her interior. And I would say even the profundity of her holiness.

COLLINS: How has she touched your life?

KOLODIEJCHUK: Well, I think she has certainly been influential in my own vocation, as I was saying, and just my effort to be -- to live my own Christian life better. And then my vocation as a priest, and to do it as a missionary of charity as one of her priests.

COLLINS: She had an incredible balance that she held between prayer and action. Talk to us a little bit about that. I know she prayed for something like four hours a day.

KOLODIEJCHUK: Well, someone once asked her, "Mother Teresa what is your secret?" And her simple answer was "I pray." And I think that's one of the keys, because she used to tell us and tell people in her instructions that, if you could -- maybe someone can do this for a year or two, but to do it day after day, year after year, and joyfully and willingly, it's not just something that is a human kind of thing, and it does require god's help, which mostly comes through prayer.

COLLINS: Let's talk a little bit now, if we could, Father Brian, about what it takes to become a saint. This is oftentimes an incredibly long, long journey. Sometimes centuries long. Talk to us a little bit about that.

KOLODIEJCHUK: Well, the -- recently, the norms were made more a little more streamlined, without taking away from its seriousness. But it begins when someone has a solid and widespread reputation of holiness, and then the Church comes in and does this formal process to really verify or discern whether that is, indeed, a genuine representation of holiness that is among the people. And that's the process we have done over these last several years.

COLLINS: What is the legacy that Mother Teresa leaves behind? Is it working with the poor?

KOLODIEJCHUK: Well, that's certainly an important part of her legacy, because that was what she -- what her vocation was and what she became known for. But I think also one of the keys is herself, what she used to say when she spoke in public. She would say to the people, you know, you don't have to go to Calcutta to find the poor. You can find the poor and look for them if you have eyes to see just right around you.

And even she would say, in your own family, who is the person at this moment who needs some attention, a gesture of love, even a smile? She would say do small things with great love or do ordinary things with extraordinary love. And I think that's the spirit all of us can take or anyone can take in their own circumstances and in their own present life situation, is just where they are, to look around them and see who is that someone who needs just even a very simple gesture of love.

COLLINS: That it is a very simple message, but a remarkable one as well. We thank you so much for your time this morning. Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, you are the principal advocate for Mother Teresa's cause for beatification. Thanks so much once again.

KOLODIEJCHUK: You're welcome.

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