Spreading hope one smile at a time

Mary Suatrik
God placed a desire on Mary Sutarik’s heart to go to Kolkata, India where Mother Teresa created the Missionaries of Charity.

A little over a year ago, a friend told Mary Sutarik, a May graduate of Loras, about her trip to India. With little knowledge of the country, she was intrigued, yet continued on with her daily routine, never thinking she would step foot in the unknown country.

Prior to this happenstance, Sutarik, known as “Smiley Catholic” on her blog, was given a book about Mother Teresa by her church. She finished the book quickly and was intrigued by the Catholic nun’s perseverance through all of life’s trials and her authentic joy which radiated so easily through those in whom she served and encountered.

A few months later, God placed a desire on Sutarik’s heart to go to Kolkata, India where Mother Teresa created Missionaries of Charity.

Sutarik joined 13 other young adults on their Fellowship of Catholic University Students mission trip and traveled across the world to Kolkata in June. Once in India, she and the others realized God wanted to show them how to accept and embrace change, this meant getting outside of their comfort zones and truly enjoying “the City of Joy.”

Sutarik attended daily Mass and Adoration in the Motherhouse and prayed at Mother Teresa’s tomb. After Mass, the group met up with volunteers from around the world before they divided among the different houses in which the Missionaries of Charity sisters serve.

“One of my greatest joys was seeing the smiles of the kids at Shishu Bhavan, one of orphanages,” she said. “We spent much of our time feeding, changing, and singing/dancing to keep the children’s spirits high. It’s crazy to think that without Mother Teresa following God’s plan for her, this orphanage wouldn’t exist and so many kids would be without proper love and care.”

Sutarik found it easy to see Christ’s presence in every person who lived, worked, and volunteered.

“Oftentimes, we disregard ourselves, doubting the person that God has created us to be,” she said. “Yet with the gentle care and uniqueness in which God created each person, we are meant to go out and to do ‘little things with great love,’ whether we’re in Kolkata or in the comforts of our own home.”

Sutarik will soon begin work as a Catholic missionary for the University of Northern Illinois’ Newman Center.