Who was Mother Teresa
Born in Macedonia on August 26, 1910, Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu was fascinated by the lives of missionaries from a young age. At age 18, she left home to join the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland. In 1929, she began her novitiate in Darjeeling, India. Her first religious vows took place on May 24, 1931 - and she chose the name “Teresa” after St. Therese of Lisieux who is the patron saint of missionaries. She continued to serve as a teacher with the Sisters of Loreto in Calcutta, India for almost twenty years. However, the extreme poverty that existed just outside of the convent walls continually tugged at Mother Teresa’s heart, inviting her to a life of radical compassion. In 1948, she asked (and was granted) permission to begin working with the poorest of the poor in the Calcutta slums.
Mother Teresa received basic medical training to provide care for those who lived in the slums. She founded a school and shortly after, in 1950, founded the Missionaries of Charity, a new religious community seeking to love and care for “the poorest of the poor” and those whom no one was willing to care for. In 1952, she opened her first hospice to help people die with dignity. In a country with multiple religious identities - primarily Hindu, Muslim, and Catholic - she worked to ensure each person died with dignity according to his or her own faith. She also opened a hospice for those suffering from leprosy and in 1955 opened a home for orphans and homeless children. By the 1960s, word of Mother Teresa’s work had spread, inspiring an increase in volunteers, religious sisters, and donations that allowed this great mission to expand across India. Her message - to radically love and serve all people - was welcomed and spread around the world.
In 1979, Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work. She refused the ceremonial banquet and instead asked that the $192,000 cost be given to the poor in India. Despite her personal humility she attracted international attention and praise for her work. After experiencing a heart attack in 1983, Mother Teresa continued to face various medical complications. She resigned as the head of the Missionaries of Charity on March 13, 1997 and died on September 5 of that year. She was mourned by both religious and non-religious communities alike. She was canonized by the Catholic Church on September 4, 2016.
When is Mother Teresa’s Feast Day?
After canonization, Mother Teresa became known as St. Teresa of Calcutta. Her feast day is September 5. She is the patron saint of World Youth Day, the Missionaries of Charity, and co-patron of the Archdiocese of Calcutta.
Who are the Missionaries of Charity?
Founded in 1950 by Mother Teresa, the Missionaries of Charity remain an active religious order today. The goal of the Missionaries of Charity is to love and serve the poorest of the poor. This includes nursing the sick and dying, teaching poor children, visiting those in dire circumstances, giving shelter to the homeless, and generally caring for the unwanted, unloved, and lonely. At the time of Mother Teresa’s death there were 3,914 sisters in 594 missions in 123 countries. That number continues to grow.
Mother Teresa Quotes
“And so, my prayer for you is that truth will bring prayer in our homes, and the fruit of prayer will be that we believe that in the poor, it is Christ. And if we really believe, we will begin to love. And if we love, naturally, we will try to do something. First in our own home, our next door neighbor, in the country we live, in the whole world.”
"No matter who says what, you should accept it with a smile and do your own work."
“We can do no great things, only small things with great love”
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean will be less because of that missing drop.”
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