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Cruising with Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa in Chicago in 1981

Mother Teresa didn’t call “Shotgun!”

But she ended up in the front seat of John and Mary Ambuul’s 15-passenger van in 1983 during one of her Chicago visits.

She was here to find a suitable dwelling for the nuns who, by her order, were to set up shop and begin doing good deeds posthaste.

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The leaders of the Ambuul clan were devout Catholics from south suburban Riverdale who volunteered to shuttle Mother Teresa around for the day.

Rose Ambuul sits in the car seat that Mother Teresa sat in her grandparents’ van in 1983. / provided photo
Rose Ambuul sits in the car seat that Mother Teresa sat in her grandparents’ van in 1983. / provided photo

The Ambuuls had 13 kid, thus the giant van.

“My little sister Beth, she must have been about four years old, sat on Mother Teresa’s lap the whole time,” said Cathy Severance, who was about to become a teenager at the time and wasn’t hip on the idea of driving around all day.

“I was a little bit upset I had to go because I had plans with my friends,” Severance recalled last week. “But I’m glad I did. Mother Teresa would take your hand into both of her hands and she was very gentle with a beautiful massive smile.”

After cruising a few tough neighborhoods around the city, Mother Teresa settled on a home in Pilsen, where sisters of the Missionaries of Charity still reside.

About 15 years later, John Ambuul, who ran a used car lot, retired the family automobile from service.

Before getting rid of it he removed one thing — the seat Mother Teresa sat in.

It currently resides in his son Dan’s office above an auto paint shop in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“It’s just a constant reminder of one of the greatest people we’ve ever had on this planet,” said Dan’s little brother, Joe Ambuul. “And that we can all strive to be as god as that person and sit in that chair.”

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Benedict Ambuul sits in the car seat that Mother Teresa sat in his grandparents’ van in 1983. /provided photo
Benedict Ambuul sits in the car seat that Mother Teresa sat in his grandparents’ van in 1983. /provided photo