mother teresa

Mother Teresa

The Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, M.C., commonly known as Mother Teresa.
1. Biography
Born August 26, 1910,Died September 5, 1997,Achievements Started Missionaries of Charity in 1950; received Nobel Prize for Peace in 1979; received Bharat Ratna in 1980.Mother Teresa was one of the great servants of humanity. She was an Albanian Catholic nun who came to India and founded the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata. Later on Mother Teresa attained Indian citizenship. Her selfless work among the poverty-stricken people of Kolkata (Calcutta) is an inspiration for people all over the world and she was honored with Nobel Prize for her work.

Mother Teresa's original name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. She was born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia. Her father was a successful merchant and she was youngest of the three siblings. At the age of 12, she decided that she wanted to be a missionary and spread the love of Christ. At the age of 18 she left her parental home in Skopje and joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India.

After a few months of training at the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dublin Mother Teresa came to India. On May 24, 1931, she took her initial vows as a nun. From 1931 to 1948, Mother Teresa taught geography and catechism at St. Mary's High School in Calcutta. However, the prevailing poverty in Calcutta had a deep impact on Mother Teresa's mind and in 1948, she received permission from her superiors to leave the convent school and devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta.

After a short course with the Medical Mission Sisters in Patna, she returned to Calcutta and found temporary lodging with the Little Sisters of the Poor. She started an open-air school for homeless children. Soon she was joined by voluntary helpers, and she received financial support from church organizations and the municipal authorities. On October 7, 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from the Vatican to start her own order. Vatican originally labeled the order as the Diocesan Congregation of the Calcutta Diocese, and it later came to known as the Missionaries of Charity. The primary task of the Missionaries of Charity was to take care of those persons who nobody was prepared to look after.

The Missionaries of Charity, which began as a small Order with 12 members in Calcutta, today has more than 4,000 nuns running orphanages, AIDS hospices, charity centres worldwide, and caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless and victims of floods, epidemics and famine in Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America, Poland, and Australia. In 1965, by granting a Decree of Praise, Pope Paul VI granted Mother Teresa permission to expand her order to other countries. The order's first house outside India was in Venezuela. Presently, the Missionaries of Charity has presence in more than 100 countries.

Mother Teresa's work has been recognised and acclaimed throughout the world and she has received a number of awards and distinctions. These include the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (1971), Nehru Prize for Promotion of International Peace & Understanding (1972), Balzan Prize (1978), Nobel Peace Prize (1979) and Bharat Ratna (1980).

On March 13, 1997, Mother Teresa stepped down from the head of Missionaries of Charity and died on September 5, 1997, just 9 days after her 87th birthday. Following Mother Teresa's death, the Holy See began the process of beatification, the second step towards possible canonization, or sainthood. This process requires the documentation of a miracle performed from the intercession of Mother Teresa. In 2002, the Vatican recognized as a miracle the healing of a tumor in the abdomen of an Indian woman, Monica Besra, following the application of a locket containing Teresa's picture. Monica Besra said that a beam of light emanated from the picture, curing the cancerous tumor. Mother Teresa was formally beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 2003 with the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. A second miracle is required for her to proceed to canonization.
2. Called to Religious Life
At 18, Gonxha decided to follow the path that seems to have been unconsciously unfolding throughout her life. She chose the Loreto Sisters of Dublin, missionaries and educators founded in the 17th century to educate young girls.

In 1928, the future Mother Teresa began her religious life in Ireland, far from her family and the life she'd known, never seeing her mother again in this life, speaking a language few understood. During this period a sister novice remembered her as very small, quiet and shy, and another member of the congregation described her as ordinary. Mother Teresa herself, even with the later decision to begin her own community of religious, continued to value her beginnings with the Loreto sisters and to maintain close ties. Unwavering commitment and self-discipline, always a part of her life and reinforced in her association with the Loreto sisters, seemed to stay with her throughout her life.

One year later, in 1929, Gonxha was sent to Darjeeling to the novitiate of the Sisters of Loreto. In 1931, she made her first vows there, choosing the name of Teresa, honoring both saints of the same name, Teresa of Avila and Therese of Lisieux. In keeping with the usual procedures of the congregation and her deepest desires, it was time for the new Sister Teresa to begin her years of service to God's people. She was sent to St. Mary's, a high school for girls in a district of Calcutta.

Here she began a career teaching history and geography, which she reportedly did with dedication and enjoyment for the next 15 years. It was in the protected environment of this school for the daughters of the wealthy that Teresa's new vocation developed and grew. This was the clear message, the invitation to her second calling, that Teresa heard on that fateful day in 1946 when she traveled to Darjeeling for retreat.
3. The Streets of Calcutta
During the next two years, Teresa pursued every avenue to follow what she never doubted was the direction God was pointing her. She was to give up even Loreto where I was very happy and to go out in the streets. I heard the call to give up all and follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.

Technicalities and practicalities abounded. She had to be released formally, not from her perpetual vows, but from living within the convents of the Sisters of Loreto. She had to confront the Church's resistance to forming new religious communities, and receive permission from the Archbishop of Calcutta to serve the poor openly on the streets. She had to figure out how to live and work on the streets, without the safety and comfort of the convent. As for clothing, Teresa decided she would set aside the habit she had worn during her years as a Loreto sister and wear the ordinary dress of an Indian woman a plain white sari and sandals.

Teresa first went to Patna for a few months to prepare for her future work by taking a nursing course. In 1948 she received permission from Pius XII to leave her community and live as an independent nun. So back to Calcutta she went and found a small hovel to rent to begin her new undertaking.

Wisely, she thought to start by teaching the children of the slums, an endeavor she knew well. Though she had no proper equipment, she made use of what was available writing in the dirt. She strove to make the children of the poor literate, to teach them basic hygiene. As they grew to know her, she gradually began visiting the poor and ill in their families and others all crowded together in the surrounding squalid shacks, inquiring about their needs.

Teresa found a never-ending stream of human needs in the poor she met, and frequently was exhausted. Despite the weariness of her days she never omitted her prayer, finding it the source of support, strength and blessing for all her ministry.
4. A Movement Begins
Teresa was not alone for long. Within a year, she found more help than she anticipated. Many seemed to have been waiting for her example to open their own floodgates of charity and compassion. Young women came to volunteer their services and later became the core of her Missionaries of Charity. Others offered food, clothing, the use of buildings, medical supplies and money. As support and assistance mushroomed, more and more services became possible to huge numbers of suffering people.

From their birth in Calcutta, nourished by the faith, compassion and commitment of Mother Teresa, the Missionaries of Charity have grown like the mustard seed of the Scriptures. New vocations continue to come from all parts of the world, serving those in great need wherever they are found. Homes for the dying, refuges for the care and teaching of orphans and abandoned children, treatment centers and hospitals for those suffering from leprosy, centers and refuges for alcoholics, the aged and street people the list is endless.

Until her death in 1997, Mother Teresa continued her work among the poorest of the poor, depending on God for all of her needs. Honors too numerous to mention had come her way throughout the years, as the world stood astounded by her care for those usually deemed of little value. In her own eyes she was God's pencil a tiny bit of pencil with which he writes what he likes.

Despite years of strenuous physical, emotional and spiritual work, Mother Teresa seemed unstoppable. Though frail and bent, with numerous ailments, she always returned to her work, to those who received her compassionate care for more than 50 years. Only months before her death, when she became too weak to manage the administrative work, she relinquished the position of head of her Missionaries of Charity. She knew the work would go on.Finally, on September 5, 1997, after finishing her dinner and prayers, her weakened heart gave her back to the God who was the very center of her life.
5. The Early Years
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, in the former Yugoslavia, she was the youngest of three children. In her teens, Agnes became a member of a youth group in her local pairsh called Sodality. Through her involvement with their activities guided by a Jesuit priest, Agnes became interested in missionaries. At age 17, she responded to her first call of a vocation as a Catholic missionary nun. She joined an Irish order, the Sisters of Loretto, a community known for their missionary work in India. When she took her vows as a Sister of Loretto, she chose the name Teresa after Saint Th?r?se of Lisieux.
In Calcutta, Sister Teresa taught geography and cathechism at St. Mary's High School. In 1944, she became the principal of St. Mary's. Soon Sister Teresa contracted tuberculosis, was unable to continue teaching and was sent to Darjeeling for rest and recuperation. It was on the train to Darjeeling that she received her second call -- "the call within the call". Mother Teresa recalled later, "I was to leave the convent and work with the poor, living among them. It was an order. I knew where I belonged but I did not know how to get there."
In 1948, the Vatican granted Sister Teresa permission to leave the Sisters of Loretto and pursue her calling under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Calcutta.Mother Teresa started with a school in the slums to teach the children of the poor. She also learned basic medicine and went into the homes of the sick to treat them. In 1949, some of her former pupils joined her. They found men, women, and children dying on the streets who were rejected by local hospitals. The group rented a room so they could care for helpless people otherwise condemned to die in the gutter. In 1950, the group was established by the Church as a Diocesan Congregation of the Calcutta Diocese. It was known as the Missionaries of Charity.
6. A vocation of service
In 1952 the first Home for the Dying was opened in space made available by the City of Calcutta. Over the years, Mother Teresa?s Missionaries of Charity grew from 12 to thousands serving the "poorest of the poor" in 450 centers around the world. Mother Teresa created many homes for the dying and the unwanted from Calcutta to New York to Albania. She was one of the pioneers of establishing homes for AIDS victims. For more than 45 years, Mother Teresa comforted the poor, the dying, and the unwanted around the world.
In 1966, the Missionaries of Charity Brothers was founded. Homes began to open in Rome, Tanzania, and Australia. In 1971, the first home in the United States was established in the South Bronx, New York. Mother Teresa gained worldwide acclaim with her tireless efforts on behalf of world peace. Her work brought her numerous humanitarian awards, including : the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. In receiving this award, Mother Teresa revolutionized the award ceremony. She insisted on a departure from the ceremonial banquet and asked that the funds, $6,000 be donated to the poor in Calcutta. This money would permit her to feed hundreds for a year.
She is stated to have said that earthly rewards were important only if they helped her help the world?s needy. Beginning in 1980, homes began to spring-up for drug addicts, prostitutes, battered women, and more orphanages and schools for poor children around the world. In 1985, Mother Teresa established the first hospice for AIDS victims in New York. Later homes were added in San Francisco and Atlanta. Mother Teresa was awarded Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian award.
In 1991, Mother Teresa returned for the first time to her native Albania and opened a home in Tirana. By this year, there were 168 homes established in India.On February 3, 1994 at a National Prayer Breakfast, sponsored by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, in Washington, DC, Mother Teresa challenged the audience on such topics as family life and abortion. She said, "Please don?t kill the child. I want the child. Give the child to me."Mother Teresa traveled to help the hungry in Ethiopia, radiation victims at Chernobyl, and earthquake victims in Armenia. Her zeal and works of mercy knew no boundaries.In November of 1996, Mother Teresa received the honorary U.S. citizenship.
7. Her Words
A clean heart is a free heart. A free heart can love Christ with an undivided love in chastity, convinced that nothing and nobody will separate it from his love. Purity, chastity, and virginity created a special beauty in Mary that attracted God?s attention. He showed his great love for the world by giving Jesus to her.There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives - the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them. Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness.Speak tenderly to them. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a cheerful smile. Don't only give your care, but give your heart as well.
The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not mortification, a penance.It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. But we are perfectly happy.I pray that you will understand the words of Jesus, ?Love one another as I have loved you.? Ask yourself ?How has he loved me? Do I really love others in the same way?? Unless this love is among us, we can kill ourselves with work and it will only be work, not love. Work without love is slavery. Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing.A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.
8. Reflections
"I know that I join countless others across the world in giving thanks to God for the many contributions Mother Teresa has made to the Church and to the human family. Mother Teresa spent her life with the Lord, especially serving Him in the poor. She must be especially happy to meet Him now face to face. Her life?s work is assured through her sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, to whom I offer my deepest sympathy ? especially to the sisters who serve St. Malachy Parish on Chicago?s West Side. The simplicity of her lifestyle and the singlemindness of her dedication will serve as an example for generations to come. Believing in the power of God?s grace which transformed her life, each of us ?relying on the same grace can do what she has done. Archbishop Francis George, OMI, Archdiocese of Chicago We are here to grieve the loss of a precious jewel, a glorious crown and a golden heart in the Church. Jaime Cardinal Sin, of the Philippines, at a Saturday evening Mass for Mother Teresa All the life of this great woman was the bright incarnation of service to the high humanitarian ideals of goodness, compassion, selflessness and faith. Mother Teresa will always remain in the hearts and minds of Russians as a friend of our country, ready to render help at any moment. Russian President, Boris Yeltsin
r. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, Yonkers, NY re-counted his first meeting with Mother Teresa in New York. Fr. Andrew has given retreats for the Missionaries of Charity contemplative sisters in the South Bronx on several occasions. On our first meeting, Mother Teresa gave me a rosary and commented that the Blessed Mother is all over the world bringing people to Her Son. She told me a story stating, whenever I need a special favor, I do an Express Novena. An Express Novena is 9 Memorares in a row. In 1983, one of our Superior sisters had gotten sick in Eastern Berlin, and Mother Teresa had to appoint a replacement that could handle the Communist government. The sister that they appointed as the successor for Eastern Berlin needed a Visa. Mother Teresa gathered her nuns and started praying the Express Novena (9 Memorare?s). On the 8th Memorare, the phone rang, it was a Communist official stating that it would be 6 months until they would receive the Visa. After the 9th prayer, Mother Teresa started the novena again. On the 8th Memorare the second time, the telephone rang this time, it was a Communist official who stated you will have your Visa immediately! Mother Teresa had a tremendous love for Our Lady. She had great courage and once stated to me that I never refused God anything . When she walked into the room to greet me, I felt that I was indeed meeting a saint. Evangelist, Billy Graham In an age when superlatives are used with abandon to describe the contributions of public figures, it is a testimony to Mother Teresa?s greatness that no same person would give her the status as the world?s most giving human being. But perhaps most of all, she will be remembered as someone who never sought the honor she so sincerely earned. William Donohue, Catholic League President The passing of Mother Teresa is a moment of joy because of her holiness. She was always with the dying and the poor, so rather than bringing mourning it brings joy. We are happy to offer her to God: Here is such a lovely soul. Bishop David E. Foley, Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama The world marveled at the commitment of this extraordinary woman. Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of San Bernardino, CA. A loss to the entire humanity. She will be deeply missed in our efforts to build international peace, and a just, caring and equitable world order. South African President Nelson Mandela's Mother Teresa imitated Christ and her life was a lesson in love. As she personally tended the sick and the dying in Calcutta's slums, she helped people there and beyond see the material and spiritual poverty that confronts modern society. She taught all -- from youth groups to governments -- through piety and charm, wisdom and simplicity. As small and soft-spoken as she was, her reach was large and her message heard around the world. She saw Jesus in everyone -- from the child in the womb, to the sick and vulnerable, especially those afflicted with AIDS, to the aged and dying abandoned in the streets of Calcutta. She urged people everywhere to reach beyond themselves to heal those hurting about them. Mother Teresa transcended cultures and politics as she spoke of God's call to love and assist the poor. She had a profound realization that anyone she was with -- immigrant, alien, president or prime minister, was first of all a Child of God and intrinsically worthy of respect. Her life will stand as a reminder to all of us that we are called to care for one another and especially that we are called to respect and aid the poorest among us. God blesses the world with wonderful treasures -- certainly Mother Teresa has been one of the finest of our century. Bishop Anthony M. Pilla, President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference Mother Teresa's life proved that the only real revolution in human affairs flows from service to others and self-sacrifice out of love for Jesus Christ. She was a champion of the unwanted, from the outcast of Calcutta to the unwanted unborn of America. She was the genius of the little way of doing great things. Above all, she was in every sense a woman of the Gospel: strong in forgiving, tender to the poor, in love with Jesus Christ, and a servant of His Church. May God welcome her into eternal light and joy, and may the work of her sisters here in Colorado and around the world thrive on the legacy of mercy and Christian love she leaves with us. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Archdiocese of Denver An example of selfless devotion to charity. I hope she can be a good example to all charity workers and philanthropists. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad A rare and unique individual who lived long for higher purposes. Her life-long devotion to the care of the poor, the sick and the disadvantaged was one of the highest examples of service to humanity. Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan The Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize panel, Francis Sejersted, said Mother Teresa stood out as an example of true self-sacrifice in humanitarian work. She was awarded the prize in 1979. In a memorial Mass celebrating the life of Mother Teresa at St. Patrick Cathedral in New York on Monday, Cardinal John O?Connor spoke of the life of this devote nun who gave her life fighting for the weakest of the weak, the poorest of the poor. On ministering to the poor Mother Teresa wrote, Without suffering, our work would just be social work. O?Connor added, Only by being one with them can we redeem them. Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor of NYC, shared with Mass attendees his thanks for having had Mother Teresa among us. On a lighter note, Mayor Giuliani commented that he and former Mayor Ed Koch never said no when Mother Teresa asked the city [New York] for help. We knew she knew better than us what?s good for our people, Giuliani said. If she wanted parking spaces, we gave her parking spaces.
9. Birth and Childhood
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, now known as Mother Teresa, was the third and final child born to her Albanian Catholic parents, Nikola and Dranafile Bojaxhiu, in the city of Skopje (a predominantly Muslim city in the Balkans). Nikola was a self-made, successful businessman and Dranafile stayed home to take care of the children.

When Mother Teresa was about eight years old, her father died unexpectedly. The Bojaxhiu family was devastated. After a period of intense grief, Dranafile, suddenly a single mother of three children, sold textiles and hand-made embroidery to bring in some income.
10. The Call
Both before Nikola's death and especially after it, the Bojaxhiu family held tightly to their religious beliefs. The family prayed daily and went on pilgrimages annually. When Mother Teresa was 12 years old, she began to feel called to serve God as a nun. Deciding to become a nun was a very difficult decision. Becoming a nun not only meant giving up the chance to marry and have children, it also meant giving up all her worldly possessions and her family, perhaps forever. For five years, Mother Teresa thought hard about whether or not to become a nun. During this time, she sang in the church choir, helped her mother organize church events, and went on walks with her mother to hand out food and supplies to the poor.

When Mother Teresa was 17, she made the difficult decision to become a nun. Having read many articles about the work Catholic missionaries were doing in India, Mother Teresa was determined to go there. Thus, Mother Teresa applied to the Loreto order of nuns, based in Ireland but with missions in India.In September 1928, 18-year-old Mother Teresa said goodbye to her family to travel to Ireland and then on to India. She never saw her mother or sister again.



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