To mark the 25th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death, the Knights of Columbus produced the film Mother Teresa: No Greater Love – a tribute to this spiritual icon. Below, Director and Writer David Naglieri weighs in on the importance of continuing to share her story.
1. Twenty-five years after Mother Teresa's passing, what is her lasting legacy?
There is a poignant moment towards the end of our film when we ask Jim Towey, her close friend and collaborator, how he thought Mother Teresa wished to be remembered. He looks humoured for a moment before breaking into laughter and saying, “How Does Mother want to be remembered? She doesn't. Because she wanted it to be about Jesus. It was never about her. It was all about Jesus. She said she was a pencil in the hand of God, that he wrote love letters to the world with.” I think that is a fitting description of Mother Teresa’s incredible humility that allowed her to become a unique channel of God’s graces. Her life’s witness points us towards the person of Jesus Christ. She powerfully reveals how we are called to find him not only in the poorest of the poor, but in all the circumstances of our everyday lives. For me this is her defining legacy.
2. It was reported that during its two-day run in theatres in the U.S. in early October, the film finished second at the box office that week earning more than $1.2 million. To what do you attribute this swell in interest?
I think there are several reasons for this. First and foremost, I think the success of our film at the box office is indicative of the great love and devotion that still exists for Mother Teresa. She had a transformative impact on the world and was a living embedment of the Gospel. Audiences were eager to be inspired anew by her witness. Secondly, I think the success reveals that movie goers are not just looking for films based on Marvel comic books or slasher films. There is a real interest in content that illuminates both the mind and the heart. Finally, I give tremendous credit to Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly. His leadership marshalled the combined resources of the Knights of Columbus at the local, state and national levels to successfully drive audiences to the theaters.
3. How can Catholics in the Archdiocese watch this film? Outside of the showing in theatres, how can people watch it?
We are very excited that our film will have a theatrical release in Canada. Later this year there will be an expanded theatrical release in both English and French in Montreal. We will also eventually be available on DVD, streaming platforms and broadcast on Salt + Light Television. All information on availability will be posted on our film’s website www.motherteresamovie.com.
4. What impact has Mother Teresa had on your life?
Spending the past year delving into the life of Mother Teresa has been enlightening on so many levels. She inspires me to be more merciful and loving to all those I encounter while also being courageous in upholding the moral truths central to our faith. She inspires me to cling to Christ during times of darkness, and to embrace the cross as she so valiantly did during her long dark night of the soul. She also inspires me to comprehend in a new and profound way the link between belief in Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist and service to the poor. Mother Teresa felt as though the Missionaries of Charity could not serve the poor if they had not first adored Christ in the Eucharist. For her, it was the same hidden Jesus, and without grasping this connection the sisters would simply be social workers. I think this profound insight can inform all our charitable instincts.
In the Archdiocese of Toronto, parishioners can view the film in theatres on November 2 and 3 at the following locations: Landmark Cinemas Bolton at 194 McEwan Drive East and Landmark Cinemas Whitby at 75 Consumers Drive.