When the Rev. Derrick Sneyd was a young boy growing up in India, his mother would often drop him off with a good friend who would take care of him while his mother went shopping in the city.
Her friend was a nun with the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta. Her name was Mother Teresa, and she is now known by Catholics around the world as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
Now in his 40th year as a priest, the senior parochial vicar at Saint Gregory the Great Catholic Church fondly reminisces about his holy caretaker.
“People ask me … ‘Did she have any influence in leading you to the priesthood?’ Good question, and I wouldn’t deny it,” Sneyd said.
Along with other holy people Sneyd spent time with over the years, Mother Teresa, the humanitarian known for helping the poorest of the poor, helped instill in him a love for Jesus and a desire to do the Lord’s work.
The Bluffton priest described Mother Teresa as an ordinary person. She had something extraordinary, though, and that was her dedication.
“To be dedicated is to have God’s wishes, God’s design in your mind and heart,” Sneyd said.
Sneyd recalls Mother Teresa watching him play with the other children. The nuns also took care of orphans. She didn’t really play with them; she just made sure they were safe. He looked forward to visiting the future saint and the other nuns because they would spoil him, although he added that he was never given preferential treatment.
Sneyd also remembers Mother Teresa as a disciplinarian. If she caught him not paying attention when he was supposed to be praying the Rosary, she would give him a little tug.
“I remember her as a very kind person,” Sneyd said. “I remember her as a loving person. I can hear her say, ‘Derrick, be a good boy.'”
Many years later, when Sneyd became a priest, Mother Teresa said something very similar: “Derrick, be a good priest.”
Sneyd thinks about Mother Teresa often. He prays daily that she will intercede for him. On the days when he doesn’t feel like doing God’s work, he is reminded of her dedication.
“The lady was dedicated,” Sneyd said. “She had no doubts in her mind and heart why she was doing what she did.”
She did it all for Jesus.
Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.