When a Rockford psychiatrist heard the news that famous nun and missionary Mother Teresa could be made a saint this year he was overjoyed, possibly more than most people, because he says he knew her for years when he was growing up in India.
"People that were dying, actually died with a smile on their face because she was touching them as they were dying," Dr. Anthony D'Souza said.
It's not everyday you hear first hand from people who've encountered world-renowned humanitarian Mother Teresa, but for Rockford resident Dr. Anthony D'souza, he has memories with the famous missionary that he gets to look back on everyday.
"I first met Mother Theresa in 1953, when I was 8 years old, so that's a long time ago," D'Souza said.
This was in Calcutta, India where Dr. D'souza grew up.
He first saw Mother Teresa in person when she visited one of his neighbors.
Eventually D'souza started volunteering at her clinic in Calcutta, first running errands and then later in his life as a medical student caring for the sick. This was a mission they both shared. Dr. D'souza recalled words of wisdom Mother Teresa gave him directly.
"She told me one time, that no matter what type of people I treat in my practice never forget the poor people and that's one of the things I will always remember about her," D'Souza said.
18 years after meeting her Dr. D'souza ventured to the United States.
"The last time I saw her was in her convent, right outside her bedroom, she used to sleep on the floor on a mattress, not a mattress that we sleep on, but a little blanket actually," D'Souza said. "I went to say hello to her and then I left."
Now nearly five decades after that a major announcement has been made regarding Mother Teresa. She could soon become a saint. Last month Pope Francis approved the miracle for her canonization.
Retired Rockford Catholic Priest Father Beauvais said this is a thorough process.
"What it means to be a saint is that the church has examined the life of the person and declared that because of the way they lived their life and followed the example of Jesus that they have a right to be called holy," Retired St. James Pastor Father David Beauvais said. "Its a declaration that they are in fact in heaven because of the way they lived their life," Beauvais said.
This news is stirring up emotions for the man with a personal connection to the woman who many call the most well-known missionary of our time.
"This is the most touching experience of my life to actually know and be with a living saint and I'm so pleased that she's finally being canonized," D'Souza said.
Mother Teresa is expected to be made a saint in the Roman Catholic Church in September.