Published June 11, 2021
For nine months, Mother Teresa has been visiting Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Booneville. With blue eyes and a cream coat, the small cat caught the eye of pastor Father Rajasekhar "Raj" Chittem when he needed her most.
She showed up just four days after the Oct. 6 death of his older brother, Rayappa Chittem.
"Mother Teresa was a symbol of love. And during the time of the loss of my brother and being away from my family, it came up and showed me some love," Father Chittem said.
Mother Teresa is an outside cat, coming into the rectory only to explore all the rooms and then wait by the door to head back outside.
"When I stop walking, it stops. When I take two steps, it takes two steps," Father Chittem said.
She is, as it turns out, a devout Catholic. She doesn't go into the church, but she does wait outside during Mass to greet all the parishioners coming and going.
"All the people who come to the church just love the cat," Father Chittem said.
Patty Pyle and Donna Strom, sisters and parishioners, and another parishioner Dorothy Lamb, feed and care for the cat, including monthly preventative medicine. Pyle, who runs a cat sanctuary with her husband on their property, made sure Mother Teresa saw veterinarian and parishioner Dr. Charles Meisner, who spayed her.
"It’s so good for him to have something to nurture. Because he’s so far from home and away from his family … he was always sending us pictures of his cat, Pyle said of Father Chittem, adding that, “We do the upkeep, but he does the loving … We’re very happy he’s taken her under his wing.”
Father Chittem said after a long day, he is happy when he sees Mother Teresa, ready to welcome him home.
“Especially that time when I’m feeling the loss of my brother, I wasn't able to go home or be with my family. I was not able to go home for my brother’s death,” he said. “Suddenly, a cat came, and it’s like somebody came for me.”