Austin brain surgeon remembers times with Mother Teresa

An Austin brain surgeon, who once worked with Mother Teresa, is remembering the nun who is expected to be elevated to sainthood later this year.

Growing up in Albania Dr. Mateo Ziu wasn't able to worship in a church like this one - until the fall of communism. Now, as often as he can, Dr. Ziu  gives thanks for the woman who restored more than just his faith.

"Mother Teresa was a very little Lady with a very strong will.”

Dr. Ziu - first met that strong willed woman a little more than 20 years ago. He traveled with Mother Teresa throughout Albania- as she re-established the Catholic Church in that former eastern bloc country.

"All the churches had been destroyed, and most of the Priest had been killed, or ended up in Prison, they were not able to say Mass, so Mother Teresa brought missionary Priest, to Albania, so we were going into the villages and having the Mass, and it was in an open space, certainly the Priest didn't speak Albanian and people didn't speak their language so I had to translate during the Mass."

Mother Teresa wanted him to become a priest, but after he told her of his dream to be a doctor, he got a surprise, a scholarship to an Italian medical school.

"Everything was just kind of, that had been so difficult before, the door opened and it became so easy."

At the time he did not know Mother Teresa and opened the door for him to go into medicine.

"I really don’t know, exactly, she never told me how she helped me, but I know it was her hand, probably a phone call, I really don’t know exactly." 

Dr Ziu is now a neurosurgeon at Seton’s Brian & Spine Institute. He is grateful for Mother Teresa's intervention which eventually brought him to Austin. He is also excited Pope Francis, in September, is expected to elevate her to sainthood.

“I’m sure I’m not the only one to say you can really feel the presence of God in that environment where she was … Personally I always knew she was a saint, and all of us who have worked with her … it recognizes her mission and what, and recognizes her as an example of the presence of God in this world for everybody."

Her legacy, according to Dr. Ziu, understands anyone can follow her example of helping others, regardless of how large or small the challenge.

"We came here, God brought us here with a mission each one of us, with a vocation and to find that vocation, and be that small pencil in his hand and be used by him, to write the story of the Word, that’s her legacy to be Gods light for everybody that we meet every day in not just work ... but daily life."

Pope Francis is expected to canonize Mother Teresa September 4th, the day before the anniversary of her death in 1997.

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