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Getting to know a saint: Detroit-area priest was Mother Teresa’s driver

Woman-of-Inspiration-Mother-Teresa1Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta had a profound effect on just about everybody.

Whether it was her healing touch, her ministry to the poorest or the poor, or the millions of Catholics from around the world moved by her words, almost everyone felt like they “knew” her.

But one Detroit-area priest has a unique tie to the soon-to-be-saint: he was her driver.

On the bustling streets of Rome — where many aspire to be Ferrari’s next Formula 1 driver — Fr. Ben Luedtke, a guest priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit who gives missions and assists other priests across the archdiocese, was Mother Teresa’s driver whenever she visited Rome from 1975 to 1982.

“Italians drive like crazy and I had a universal driver’s license,” Fr. Luedtke said. “I tended to go slower, not take the corners as sharp. So I got to know her through that.”

Not quite a “Driving Miss Daisy” story, but Fr. Luedtke and Mother Teresa got to know each other over the years. Fr. Luedtke was studying in Rome to become a priest, being ordained by Pope John Paul II in 1982. Upon his ordination, Fr. Luedtke and Mother Teresa’s relationship continued in a special way — they became spiritual brother and sister.

“Every person ordained by St. John Paul II had a sister assigned to them to be their spiritual sister,” Fr. Luedtke said. “The nun prays for the priest, and the priest prays for the nun for spiritual benefits. When a person prays for a priest, that nun receives a grace, and vice versa.”

During one of their drives, Fr. Luedtke told Mother Teresa he didn’t have a spiritual sister yet.

“I told Mother Teresa that I didn’t have anybody, so I asked her,” Fr. Luedtke said. “She asked the Holy Father about it, then called me and said yes. She probably would have lived longer if she didn’t have to pray for me so much.”

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