On Thursday, 6th December, the whole MITHRA family and friends gathered around the tomb of Sr Mary Theodore to commemorate the occasion of her 97th Birthday Anniversary.

As prayers, readings and reflections were shared, it was obvious that love and affection burned brightly in the hearts and memories of those gathered, especially the older children who hold fond and personal memories of “Mother” as they called her.

Below are two reflections from former Australian diplomats who came to know Sr Mary Theodore during their service in India.

Mr John McCarthy, AO, former High Commissioner to India 2004-2009.

“I first met Sr Mary Theodore in 2005 and knew that she was different. I subsequently made many visits to MITHRA and saw the work of this gifted, driven and simple Australian. It was work that gave the children back their lives and crucially a sense of dignity. For me it was the sort of work that gives meaning to Catholicism.

“MITHRA has also achieved more at a grass roots level for the Australia-India relationship than a host of Government memoranda and visits both ways by people of rank. The inspiration and energy behind the creation and growth of MITHRA must not be allowed to dissipate. Australians are in one sense the heirs of Sr Mary Theodore. The others are the children of MITHRA. We in Australia owe it to her to ensure that MITHRA continues and grows.”

Mr David Holly, Australian Consul-General to South India, 2010 – 2012.

“To put it quite simply, Sr Mary Theodore was loved and admired by all those that came into contact with her. This could not be helped, as Sister shared her vision for Chennai’s differently-abled in such a passionate way. And her words were reinforced through uplifting concerts, Special Olympics and contact with (Australian) students.

“I know of none that came away from meeting Sister that was not struck by the importance of the work being carried out by MITHRA.

“Recently (some) past visitors to MITHRA have shared with me the following thoughts about Sister:

  • a great lady whose passionate concern transformed thousands of difficult lives to be far less difficult.
  • Sr Mary Theodore made me realise what a difference a committed individual can make to a social cause in India.
  • I have never met anyone with an aura such as she had.
  • What Sister has achieved with badly disadvantaged children from impoverished backgrounds for over 40 years has been truly inspiring and humbling.

“Sr Mary Theodore was great at using every opportunity to further MITHRA’s cause. She would tell it to you straight – in her gentle, good-humoured manner – what was needed. From a new website, to special vehicles, to a centre for the elderly – her vision was uncompromising when it came to caring for the differently-abled.
“Friends, Sister Mary Theodore has shown us the way. It is now up to us to continue to share her passion, determination and vision for the differently-abled with others.

“It is up to us to take forward Sister’s vision into the future.”

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