Mother Teresa

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The humanitarian nun and missionary Mother Teresa, known in the Catholic church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, is among the most famous personalities of India. Teresa was the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity. She comes from the Roman Catholic generation of women who dedicated their lives to caring for the poor and children. Mother Teresa was born in Macedonia to Albanian parents and taught in India for 17 years. She experienced her “call within a call” in 1946. She was also the recipient of numerous honors, including the 1979 Nobel Prize for peace and was considered one of the 20th Century’s greatest humanitarians. Let’s learn more about divine inspiration, Mother Teresa and her life spent caring for others and in humanitarian deeds.

“Like Jesus, we belong to the world not living for ourselves but for others. The joy of the Lord is our strength.”

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About Mother Teresa

Name Mother Teresa
Originally Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu
Also Known as  Saint Mother Teresa; Mother Teresa; Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta; Saint Teresa of Calcutta; Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Birth August 26, 1910
Baptized August 27, 1910
Died September 5, 1997
Place of Birth Skopje, Macedonia
Place of Death Calcutta, India
Title Saint (2016)
Founder Order of the Missionaries of Charity

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Mother Teresa: Early Life and Family 

Born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, the current capital of the Republic of Macedonia, Mother Teresa was baptized the following day as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhui. Her parents, Nikola and Dranafile Bojaxhui were of Albanian Descent. Her father worked as a construction contractor and a trader of medicines. Nikola was a vocal proponent involved in the local church as well as in city politics. In 1919, her father died due to unknown reasons while there were speculations that he was poisoned by political enemies. Later, Agnes became attached to her mother who instilled in her a deep commitment to charity. 

HuffPost: Mother Teresa at 8

Mother Teresa Education

Agnes went to a convent-run primary school and then a state-run secondary school. She used to sing solos in the local Sacred Heart choir and from there she first felt a calling to religious life at the age of 12. Six years later, in 1928, an 18-year-old Agnes decided to become a nun and set off for Ireland to join the sisters of Loreto in Dublin. It was there that she took the name Sister Mary Teresa after Saint Theresa of Liseux. 

“Do not wait for leaders, do it alone, person to person.”

Facebook: Mother Teresa at 18

Nunhood 

“God doesn’t require us to succeed; he only required that you try.” 

A year later, Sister Mary Teresa travelled to Darjeeling, India for the Novitiate Period. In May 1931, She made her first profession of vows. Later, She went to Calcutta, where she was assigned to teach at Saint Mary’s High School for Girls, a school run by the Loreto sisters and dedicated to teaching girls from the city’s poorest Bengali families. On May 24, 1937, She took her final profession of vows to a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Later, she took on the title “Mother” upon making her final vows and became Mother Teresa. She continued her teaching and lead them to a life of devotion to Christ.

“Call within a Call” 

“If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.”

On September 10, 1946, Mother Teresa experienced a second calling, “Call within a Call” that transformed her life forever. When she was travelling for the retreat from Calcutta to the Himalayan foothills, a christ abandoned the teaching work and served in Calcutta’s poorer & sicker slum areas of Calcutta. 

Maria Vision USA: Mother Teresa Museum 

In 1948, she finally received approval to pursue this new calling. Donning the blue and white saree that she would wear in public for the rest of her life, she left the Loreto Convent and wandered out into the city. She voyaged in the slums of Calcutta with a goal, “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for”. 

Time Magazine: Mother Teresa at slums of Calcutta

Missionaries of Charity 

“Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing.”

Mother Teresa translated her calling into concrete actions to help the city’s poor. She began an open-air career and established a home for the dying institute. 

  • In 1950, she won canonical recognition for a new congregation, The Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa’s charitable activities expanded exponentially 
  • Over the course of the 1950s and 1960s, she established a leper colony, an orphanage, a nursing home, a family clinic, and a string of mobile health clinics 
  • In 1971, opened her American-based House of Charity
  • In 1985, Mother Teresa opened a home to care for those infected with HIV/AIDS in New York, United States 
Credits: Rome Reports

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Awards & Recognition

Mother Teresa received various honors for her tireless and effective Charity. 

  • In 1962, Mother Teresa was awarded the Padma Shri
  • In 1969, she was awarded Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding 
  • In 1980, she was awarded Bharat Ratna
  • In 1962, she received Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace & International Understanding
  • In 1971, she received Pope John XXII Peace Prize
  • In 1973, she received Templeton Prize and in 1976, Pacem in Terris Award
  • In 1982, she was appointed as an honorary Companion of the order of Australia
Credits: Learnodo-Newtonic

Death

After several years of deteriorating health, including heart, lung, and kidney problems, Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997. 

Credits: NBC News

Mother Teresa: Canonization 

On December 17, 2015, Pope Francis issued an official order that recognized a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa. She was canonized as a Saint on September 4, 2016, a day before the 19th anniversary of her death. Her canonization was held in St. Peter’s square in Vatican city. Thousands of Catholics and Pilgrims from around the world attended the canonization to celebrate the woman who had been called “the saint of the gutters” because she served the poor all her life. 

Pope Francis said in Latin, “After due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a saint, we enroll her among the saints, decreeing that she is to venerated as such by the whole church.” 

Credits: CRUX

Controversies

Despite the widespread praise, Mother Teresa’s life and work have not gone without its controversies. She has faced criticism for her vocal endorsement of issues like contraception and abortion. “I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion”, she described in her 1979 Nobel Lecture. 

In 1995, She was criticized for voting “no” in the Irish referendum to end the country’s constitutional ban on divorce and remarriage. The most scathing criticism she faced was that she glorified poverty for her own ends and provided a justification for the preservation of institutions and beliefs that sustained widespread poverty. 

Summing her life, Mother Teresa said, “By blood I am Albanian, By Citizenship, an India, By Faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.” 

For her wavering commitment to aiding those most in need, Mother Teresa stands out as one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century. She developed a vast and effective international organization of missionaries to help impoverished citizens all across the globe. So much to learn from her, isn’t it? We at Leverage Edu salute her! Stay tuned to Leverage Edu for more inspiring information. 

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