By Merita B. McCormack*/
On Saturday, May 7th, on the Eve of Mother’s Day, Albanian Community in the Diocese Of Arlington, Virginia, welcomed Monsignor Lush Gjergji of Kosova, the Albanian Biographer of Saint Mother Teresa. The Mass and reception were hosted by Divine Mercy University in Sterling, Virginia and the Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Charles Sikorsky, LC , President of the University. During his homily Dom Lushi spoke about the teachings of the church , commenting on the passages read from Holy Scripture and also spoke about the virtue of love and the message of mother Teresa in our times.
He emphasized the role and values of family, particularly the role of the mother, which was poignant due to the fact that Mother’s Day Feast fell on Sunday, May 8th. He said among many other things, that a complete traditional Albanian family is that of three generations, with parents, grandparents and children. Dom Lushi blessed the mothers present at the end of Mass and then after Mass he blessed the congregation with the relics of Albanian martyrs. The mass servers and gift bearers were from the Crnkovich family and the cantor was from the McCormack family. Denis Guma and Nela Crnkovich helped with the readings in Albanian.
After mass, we moved to a reception hall, where coffee, soft drinks and desserts were served. The desserts were provided as a donation by Ira Mehani, owner of “Sweet Treats by Irene”. During the reception Denis Guma recalled the history of the community and thanked the rest of the core members of this group. The author of this note summarized Dom Lushi’s homily for English speakers present and provided translations onwards.
Dom Lushi had a conversation with the community and many questions were asked during a reception. During that Q&A session Dom Lushi touched again upon the revered Albanian traditions as that of love, compassion , multifamily generations and harmony in the family. He called to our attention the dangers of today’s 5 dictatorships which are: 1. materialism, 2. consumerism, 3. hedonism, 4.relativism and 5.practical atheism.
There was a question regarding divisions among the faith communities, and Dom Lushi elaborated on the nature of common good, true love and the unity through diversity by respecting each other’s freedom and loving each other truly as God does love us. In the post Mass reception he answered several questions and shared his vocation story. He said he was 13 years old when he saw his parish priest being arrested by the communist government and felt filled with sorrow. At that time he said he asked God :” If you will, please make me your priest” And his brother too became a priest.
He shared the story of Mother Teresa’s Grandfather , Lazer Bojaxhiu from Prizren, Kosovo in the mid 1800 and how he escaped the massacre and moved to Skopje, Macedonia, where he established the business ( Trade and Real Estate). His son Nikolle Bojaxhiu, mother Teresa’s father, continued his charitable work with the poor and owned ten homes, nine of which were used for the homeless.
Dom Lushi shared that he met Mother when he was 18 years old and at a Seminary in Rome and that she was so happy to meet an Albanian seminarian that she would not let go of him and checking his health and asking about all Albanian related issues. He said at that moment he knew she was a saint and began writing about her.
When Dom Lushi was asked about his books, he mentioned that one book with selected writings on Mother Teresa is soon becoming available in English. It is published by “Illyria” Newspaper owner, Mr. Vehbi Bajrami.
Also he mentioned the newly printed book about St. Jerome, the Illyrian(Dalmat), which is available in Kosova.
Preservation of Albanian Culture and Tradition in Washington DC (PACT DC), an artistic youth dance group welcomed Dom Lushi, performed a few dances and invited everyone to join the dances (valle).
After the event, several families went to a local restaurant and treated the guests to dinner.
Dom Lushi was accompanied for the whole duration of stay in Virginia by Mr. Marash Nucullaj of Michigan, an activist in the Albanian community.
On Sunday May 8th, Dom Lushi concelebrated Mass at St.John the Beloved Catholic church and visited the first class relic of Mother Teresa. He then was met by Sabri Tahiri, an Albanian of Kosova in DC who, together with other friends, treated the guest to lunch and did some sightseeing around DC. Dom Lushi returned to Detroit, where he has been staying since Easter.
The events were well attended by Albanians and Americans. Among the notable community personalities there were Ms. Buta Biberaj, the Loudoun County Commonwealth Attorney, who is of Albanian origin, former VOA journalists and authors Shaqir Salihu and Laura Konda. Mrs. Gabriela O’Connell, a German- American, attended as a friend of the community. We are grateful to all.*The author is the co-founder of the community and the current coordinator.