What do we Know about Mother Teresa?
Mother Teresa as most people know her, was born in Shkup, Albania in 1910 with the name of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. She was the third, and youngest child of Nicholas and Rosa Bojaxhiu, a wealthy Albanian couple. Agnesr’s parents were very involved in the roman catholic church and knew it would be good for their kids to grow up with the religion as well. Nicholas, Teresar’s father, died at the age of forty-two when Agnes was only eight years old, and left the family with not only an emotional loss, but a severe loss in financials which changed the familyr’s circumstances. Although this was such an unfortunate incident, it brought the family closer together (Parks; Chidiac, 470).
At a very early age of twelve, Agnes knew she was meant to be something more in the catholic community. She felt she had a calling. She did some research for six years before she turned eighteen, and decided she wanted to work with the Loreto Sisters and be a missionary nun in the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her mother was hesitant on her leaving, but she blessed her and knew she was in the hands of Jesus Christ. When she was eighteen, she moved and left her family behind to receive her religious training and learn English in Rathfarnam, Ireland. Shortly after, she moved to Calcutta, India and began to teach geography at a girlr’s high school starting in 1929. Agnes received the name Teresa after her patron, St Therese of the Child Jesus (Parks; Chidiac, 470).
After becoming the principle of the school and working at this school for twenty years, she had a call within a call as she says, on a train ride to Darjeeling on September 10th, 1946 that profoundly changed her life forever (Chidiac, 470). In Mother Teresar’s book called, My Life for the Poor she says on page 7,
The message was quite clear: I was to leave the Covent and help the poor whilst living among them. It was an order. I knew where I belonged, but I did not know how to get there. I felt intensely that Jesus wanted me to serve him among the poorest of the poor, the uncared for, the homeless. Jesus invited me to serve him and follow him in actual poverty, to practice a kind of life that would make me similar to the needy in whom he was present, suffered and loved. Just by this quote by Mother Teresa, you can tell she would give up anything to serve god even if she didnt know where it would take her.
This call with in a call was god asking Sister Teresa to serve to the most poverty stricken, the dying, the most lonesome, the uneducated and the neediest of all the people in Calcutta, and she didnt hesitate. She immediately applied for freedom from the Loretto Sisters to serve to the needy. In 1948, she was granted permission to work as a free nun, and the Catholic church granted her permission to begin a new religious order, called the Missionaries of Charity (Teresa, 8). She left the convent with only what she was wearing on her back, five rupees, and a rosary. She gave four of the rupees to the poor, and the last one to a priest. The same afternoon, a man had heard about her actions of selflessness and gave the priest fifty rupees to give to her. This goes to show how karma works in miraculous ways.
Just imagine leaving home and going to a completely new place with close to nothing. This is what Sister Teresa did. On December 21, 1948, Teresa opened her first slum school in Moti Jheel in Calcutta (Parks). Her goal was to teach the poorest of children how to read, write, but also to teach them basic daily skills like how to bathe. She worked in this school for two years and then the Catholic church gave her permission to start a religious order called the Missionaries of Charity on October 7th, 1950. As she was the head of this mission, Sister Teresa became Mother Teresa and she also got her Indian Citizenship. The goal of the order was to help dying people, poor people, or any one less fortunate have a place to stay or get back on their feet. You could then apply to be a sister in her order by being healthy of mind and body, having the ability to learn, having common sense and a cheerful disposition (Teresa, 16). Once you were a sister, you would go through different vows before committing your life long vows to help unfortunate people.
On March 25, 1963, the archbishop of Calcutta formally blessed the new order of the Missionary Brothers of Charity (Parks). Roughly six years later, they got the blessing from Pope Paul VI. The workforce behind the Missionaries of Charity swelled to thousands, usually sisters and brothers of the Catholic Church, helping the world’s poor at 200 centers in over 25 countries. (Stevenson). During this time, the AIDS epidemic was going around India and Mother Teresa took infected children and victims under her wing and took care of them. With Indiar’s population rapidly growing at this time, there were so many sick people that Mother Teresa and her charity took care of. Mother Teresa then started to open more houses of the Missionaries of Charity first in Venezuela, followed by Rome, Ceylon, Tanzania, and Australia. Her name and her story started to spread and made its way to the U.S. where she opened facilities for people infected with AIDS and another house was made for victims of rape back in India. She enjoyed working in the west because she commented that though the West was materially prosperous, there was often a spiritual poverty.
Her health started to decline in the 80r’s and she was forced to give up her position in the Missionaries of Charity to another nun. A few days after her eighty seventh birthday in 1997, she passed away from a heart attack. The sisters and brothers of the Missionaries of Charity still go on today to help the needy in memory of Teresa. Since Mother Teresar’s death, the Missionaries of Charity have added 163 houses in eleven countries on five continents, totaling 757 centers in 134 countries so far (Bose and Faust 111).
- With the money she received from her Nobel Peace Prize, She asked that the award money be spent to feed Calcutta’s poor, as this award honored their lives and the importance of helping them (Stevenson).
- She started one of her homes for the dying by finding an abandoned Hindu temple and creating a home for them. This goes to show how dedicated she was to helping others.
- She received the Medal of Freedom, the highest ranked United States civilian award and also received many honorary degrees from universities around the world.
Through all her social work, she received many humanitarian prizes and honors. She was awarded the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize and the Joseph Kennedy Jr. Foundation Award in 1971 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 (Parks). All in all, Mother Teresa not only took physical care of these hurting people but showed them love through Jesus. She will always be remembered for her selfless character throughout her whole entire life. She changed the lives of the most disadvantaged people. Through the research about this amazing woman, I can certainly say, myself, and everyone should be more like her. To let go of the materialistic things and to really help someone in need is so important. Living in the U.S., I believe itr’s hard to understand the things some of these people go through in less fortunate countries. Granted, with current medicine a lot of people can be healed, but showing love to people in need like Mother Teresa did is what people actually need. I strongly suggest everyone to get involved in their communities to help others. I can say myself that I am a part of Phi Mu at Kennesaw State University and one of my biggest goals through this chapter is to raise money for sick kids at Childrenr’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Mother Teresar’s story only makes me want to get out and make a bigger impact!
- Bose, Ruma, and Lou Faust. Mother Teresa, CEO: Unexpected Principles for Practical Leadership. Vol. 1st ed, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2011.
- Chidiac, Anthony. The Spirituality of Mother Teresa. Australasian Catholic Record, vol. 93, no. 4, Oct. 2016, pp. 469“477. EBSCOhost, login.proxy.kennesaw.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=120562532&site=eds-live&scope=site.
- Parks, Joyce M. Mother Teresa. Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia, 2013. EBSCOhost, login.proxy.kennesaw.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ers&AN=88802025&site=eds-live&scope=site.
- Stevenson, Keira. Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa, Aug. 2017, p. 1. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=b6h&AN=18053290&site=brc-live.
Vardley, Lucinda. Mother Teresa:A Simple Path. Ballantine Books, 1995.