During Mother Teresa’s 1989 visit, St. Rose of Lima parishioner Helen Onofrio was asked to prepare a prayer altar for the Blessed Mother. She acquired an ante-room and a small table near the auditorium, and she took a rug from her home, an altar cloth, a vase and one single stem red rose. She then asked her pastor for permission to take a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament, which he granted. She carefully prepared the altar with her sister and waited for Mother Teresa to arrive.
When Mother Teresa entered the room, she didn’t notice Onofrio and her sister at first. After kneeling to pray silently for 15 minutes, Mother Teresa stood up, turned around and noticed them.
“She came up to us, blessed each of us, and gave each of us a big hug,” Onofrio said. “She was a tiny lady, but the strength in her face and in her eyes…she seemed like a giant.”
Before Mother Teresa left to give her presentation, Onofrio asked her to autograph one of the programs, which she has framed to this day, as well as the rose that was on the altar. Onofrio also has the rug upon which Mother Teresa knelt to pray. It has been in storage for the past 27 years until recently, when she donated it to be displayed at St. Rose of Lima.
“It was a great blessing and an honor and experience that I will never forget,” Onofrio said of meeting Mother Teresa. “It means so much to me in my prayer life that I have met her and that I have been that close to such a wonderful person.”