September 27, 2012
Sister Judith Ann Karam, CSA, helped celebrate the opening of Cleveland’s new Albanian Cultural Garden September 22 and the unveiling of its centerpiece, a 7-foot-tall bronze statue of Mother Teresa, as reported by the Plain Dealer. The Sisters of Charity Health System and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland donated money to help pay for the statue.
More than 300 people, including Bujar Nishani, the president of Albania, and three musicians who were adopted, as children, from the orphanages of Mother Teresa, gathered in Cleveland's Rockefeller Park in a steady rain for the celebration.
“Do not worry about the rain,” Sister Judith Ann Karam, president and CEO of the Sisters of Charity Health System, told the crowd that huddled under three large tents during the 75-minute ceremony. “Rain is the sign of new life and this is what the garden represents,” she said.
Others at the gathering were Albanians who have made a new life in Cleveland with their arrival in the 1990s, after the fall of Communism in their homeland, as well as ethnic Albanian exchange students from Kosovo, an Albanian television crew, Albania's Ambassador to the United States Gilbert Galanxhi and Mayor Baftjar Zeqaj of Fier, Cleveland's sister city in Albania.
Despite the rain, the celebration had people dancing on the park's muddy grounds and joining Albanian folk singer Gezim Nika as he belted out a song about never forgetting his homeland, even when far away.
The Albanian Cultural Garden is the 29th to be dedicated since 1916, when the British Garden was opened in the Cleveland park that runs along three miles of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and East Boulevard.