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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Olympic chaplain visits St Teresa’s orphanage

To mark the Opening of the Rio Paralympic Games as well as the recent canonisation of St Teresa by Pope Francis, Chaplain for the Olympics and Paralympic Games Rev Zenji Nioō visited Shishu Bhavan, St Teresa’s orphanage in Kolkata.

During his visit, Rev Nio gifted the orphans an official uniform of the Rio Olympics which was received by the head of the orphanage Sr Joan of Arc.
“When the kids see the uniform, I’d like them to dream that one day they too can be at the Paralympics,” said Nio.

Nioō, who worked closely with St Teresa in his childhood, has launched the Compassion Initiative, which conducts social service campaigns worldwide often reaching out to the most marginalised and vulnerable members of society. Nio, who was recently feted in the Olympic Village newspaper for spiritually coaching 50 medallists from all faiths, said he prefers heroes to world champions.

“During the Olympics, I was blessed to be able to help athletes overcome great challenges from a coma and crushed lungs to a torn ACL and even a retinal detachment.

“Now I am working with Paralympic athletes who have suffered serious accidents that have left them differently-abled, and each one of them has won more than gold simply by qualifying.

“While the world marks the sainthood of Mother Teresa, we must put more passion in the call for compassion,” said Nio. In Rio, Nio met with Cardinal Dom Orani Tempesta and has also lectured at major events in the United States and Canada, including the Parliament of World Religions and NAIN Conference at the University of Toronto.

There he spoke alongside pastor Gerald Durley, protege of Martin Luther King Jr. Nio has lectured alongside Cardinal Collins, Bishop Fitzgerald and Bishop Nguyen at conferences organised by Fr Damian MacPherson.

He has also carried out social service work with Chaplain Johnson, previously of Yale University and presently with George Washington University.

The chaplain hailed Nio as a “reformer and a revolutionary”.

Picture: Sr Joan of Arc, Rev Nio and an orphan with a disability hold up the Rio Uniform at Shishu Bhavan orphanage in Kolkata.