A Celebration of Women™
has been inspired to Celebrate the Life of an iconic heart of charity, on this her name day,
a woman that followed the “calling inside a calling” and decided a life of charity living among the souls needing love was the only way.
Celebrating October 19th, today, Mother Teresa’s homeland of Albania honors her with a national holiday. October 19 is the anniversary of the day in 2003 that she was beatified by the Vatican.
“Christ will not ask how much we did but how much love we put into what we did.”
WOMAN of ACTION™
Mother Teresa (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (pronounced [aɡˈnɛs ˈɡɔndʒa bɔjaˈdʒiu]), was a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship, who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, in 1950. For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries.
In the 1970s, she became well-known internationally for her humanitarian work and advocacy for the rights of the poor and helpless. Malcolm Muggeridge documented this favourably and wrote a book Something Beautiful for God.
Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity continued to grow during her life-time, and at the time of her death, had 610 missions in 123 countries, including hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children’s and family counselling programs, orphanages, and schools. She remains, on the whole, one of the most admired figures in recent history, with even such religiously indifferent figures as Scott Adams and Dave Barry using her as an archetype of virtue.
In 2010, on the 100th Anniversary of her Birth, she was honoured around the world, and her work praised by Indian President Pratibha Patil. Mother Teresa’s philosophy and implementation have faced some criticism. Catholic newspaper editor David Scott wrote that Mother Teresa limited herself to keeping people alive rather than tackling poverty itself.
Mother Teresa with Michèle Duvalier, wife of Jean-Claude Duvalier
In 1981, Teresa flew to Haiti to accept the Legion d’Honneur from the right-wing dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, who, after his ouster, was found to have stolen millions of dollars from the impoverished country. There she said that the Duvaliers “loved their poor,” and that “their love was reciprocated.”
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (gonxha meaning “rosebud” or “little flower” in Albanian) was born on 26 August 1910, in Üsküb, Ottoman Empire (now Skopje, capital of the Republic of Macedonia). Although she was born on 26 August, she considered 27 August, the day she was baptized, to be her “true birthday“.
She was the youngest of the children of a family from Shkodër, Albania, born to Nikollë and Drana Bojaxhiu. Her father, who was involved in Albanian politics, died in 1919 when she was eight years old. After her father’s death, her mother raised her as a Roman Catholic. Her father, Nikollë Bojaxhiu (his name means ‘painter’) was of Kosovar Albanian origin possibly stemming from Prizren, Kosovo while her mother’s origin was possibly from a village near Đakovica, Kosovo.
According to a biography by Joan Graff Clucas, in her early years Agnes was fascinated by stories of the lives of missionaries and their service in Bengal, and by age 12 was convinced that she should commit herself to a religious life. Her final resolution was taken on August 15, 1928, while praying at the shrine of the Black Madonna of Letnice, where she often went on pilgrimage.
She left home at age 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary.
She never again saw her mother or sister.
Agnes initially went to the Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland, to learn English, the language the Sisters of Loreto used to teach school children in India. She arrived in India in 1929, and began her novitiate in Darjeeling, near the Himalayan mountains, where she learnt Bengali and taught at the St. Teresa’s School, a schoolhouse close to her convent.
She took her first religious vows as a nun on 24 May 1931. At that time she chose to be named after Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries, but because one nun in the convent had already chosen that name, Agnes opted for the Spanish spelling Teresa.
She took her solemn vows on 14 May 1937, while serving as a teacher at the Loreto Convent School in Entally, eastern Calcutta. Teresa served there for almost twenty years and in 1944 was appointed headmistress.
Although Teresa enjoyed teaching at the school, she was increasingly disturbed by the poverty surrounding her in Calcutta. The Bengal famine of 1943 brought misery and death to the city; and the outbreak of Hindu/Muslim violence in August 1946 plunged the city into despair and horror.
On 10 September 1946, Teresa experienced what she later described as “the call within the call” while traveling by train to the Loreto convent in Darjeeling from Calcutta for her annual retreat. “I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith.” As one author later noted, “Though no one knew it at the time, Sister Teresa had just become Mother Teresa”.
She began her missionary work with the poor in 1948, replacing her traditional Loreto habit with a simple white cotton sari decorated with a blue border. Mother Teresa adopted Indian citizenship, spent a few months in Patna to receive a basic medical training in the Holy Family Hospital and then ventured out into the slums.
Initially, she started a school in Motijhil (Calcutta); soon she started tending to the needs of the destitute and starving. In the beginning of 1949 she was joined in her effort by a group of young women and laid the foundations to create a new religious community helping the “poorest among the poor“.
Her efforts quickly caught the attention of Indian officials, including the prime minister, who expressed his appreciation.
Teresa wrote in her diary that her first year was fraught with difficulties. She had no income and had to resort to begging for food and supplies. Teresa experienced doubt, loneliness and the temptation to return to the comfort of convent life during these early months.
She wrote in her diary:
Our Lord wants me to be a free nun covered with the poverty of the cross. Today I learned a good lesson. The poverty of the poor must be so hard for them. While looking for a home I walked and walked till my arms and legs ached. I thought how much they must ache in body and soul, looking for a home, food and health. Then the comfort of Loreto [her former order] came to tempt me. ‘You have only to say the word and all that will be yours again,’ the Tempter kept on saying … Of free choice, my God, and out of love for you, I desire to remain and do whatever be your Holy will in my regard. I did not let a single tear come.’
Teresa received Vatican permission on 7 October 1950 to start the diocesan congregation that would become the Missionaries of Charity. Its mission was to care for, in her own words, “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”
It began as a small order with 13 members in Calcutta; today it has more than 4,000 nuns running orphanages, AIDS hospices and charity centers worldwide, and caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless, and victims of floods, epidemics, and famine.
In 1952 Mother Teresa opened the first Home for the Dying in space made available by the city of Calcutta. With the help of Indian officials she converted an abandoned Hindu temple into the Kalighat Home for the Dying, a free hospice for the poor. She renamed it Kalighat, the Home of the Pure Heart (Nirmal Hriday). Those brought to the home received medical attention and were afforded the opportunity to die with dignity, according to the rituals of their faith; Muslims were read the Quran, Hindus received water from the Ganges, and Catholics received the Last Rites.
“A beautiful death,”
“is for people who lived like animals to die like angels—loved and wanted.”
Mother Teresa soon opened a home for those suffering from Hansen’s disease, commonly known as leprosy, and called the hospice Shanti Nagar (City of Peace). The Missionaries of Charity also established several leprosy outreach clinics throughout Calcutta, providing medication, bandages and food.
As the Missionaries of Charity took in increasing numbers of lost children, Mother Teresa felt the need to create a home for them. In 1955 she opened the Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, the Children’s Home of the Immaculate Heart, as a haven for orphans and homeless youth.
The order soon began to attract both recruits and charitable donations, and by the 1960s had opened hospices, orphanages and leper houses all over India. Mother Teresa then expanded the order throughout the globe. Its first house outside India opened in Venezuela in 1965 with five sisters. Others followed in Rome, Tanzania, and Austria in 1968; during the 1970s the order opened houses and foundations in dozens of countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States.
The Missionaries of Charity Brothers was founded in 1963, and a contemplative branch of the Sisters followed in 1976. Lay Catholics and non-Catholics were enrolled in the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa, the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, and the Lay Missionaries of Charity. In answer to the requests of many priests, in 1981 Mother Teresa also began the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests, and in 1984 founded with Fr. Joseph Langford the Missionaries of Charity Fathers to combine the vocational aims of the Missionaries of Charity with the resources of the ministerial priesthood. By 2007 the Missionaries of Charity numbered approximately 450 brothers and 5,000 nuns worldwide, operating 600 missions, schools and shelters in 120 countries.
INTERNATIONAL CHARITY: In 1982, at the height of the Siege of Beirut, Mother Teresa rescued 37 children trapped in a front line hospital by brokering a temporary cease-fire between the Israeli army and Palestinian guerrillas. Accompanied by Red Cross workers, she traveled through the war zone to the devastated hospital to evacuate the young patients.
When Eastern Europe experienced increased openness in the late 1980s, she expanded her efforts to Communist countries that had previously rejected the Missionaries of Charity, embarking on dozens of projects.
She was undeterred by criticism about her firm stand against abortion and divorce stating,
“No matter who says what, you should accept it with a smile and do your own work.”
She visited the Soviet republic of Armenia following the 1988 Spitak earthquake, and met with Nikolai Ryzhkov, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers.
Mother Teresa traveled to assist and minister to the hungry in Ethiopia, radiation victims at Chernobyl, and earthquake victims in Armenia. In 1991, Mother Teresa returned for the first time to her homeland and opened a Missionaries of Charity Brothers home in Tirana, Albania.
By 1996, she was operating 517 missions in more than 100 countries. Over the years, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity grew from twelve to thousands serving the “poorest of the poor” in 450 centers around the world.
Sister Leticia, regional superior of the Missionaries of Charity in the eastern United States and Canada, lights a candle during a eucharistic procession through the streets around St. Rita of Cascia Church in the South Bronx section of New York Aug. 26. The procession, which followed a special Mass marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, passed in front of the first convent established in the United States by Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
The first Missionaries of Charity home in the United States was established in the South Bronx, New York; by 1984 the order operated 19 establishments throughout the country.
Mother Teresa suffered a heart attack in Rome in 1983, while visiting Pope John Paul II. After a second attack in 1989, she received an artificial pacemaker. In 1991, after a battle with pneumonia while in Mexico, she suffered further heart problems. She offered to resign her position as head of the Missionaries of Charity, but the nuns of the order, in a secret ballot, voted for her to stay. Mother Teresa agreed to continue her work as head of the order.
In April 1996, Mother Teresa fell and broke her collar bone. In August she suffered from malaria and failure of the left heart ventricle. She had heart surgery but it was clear that her health was declining. She was treated at a California hospital, too, and this has led to some criticism. The Archbishop of Calcutta, Henry Sebastian D’Souza, said he ordered a priest to perform an exorcism on Mother Teresa with her permission when she was first hospitalised with cardiac problems because he thought she may be under attack by the devil.
On 13 March 1997, she stepped down from the head of Missionaries of Charity.
She died on 5 September 1997.
At the time of her death, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity had over 4,000 sisters, and an associated brotherhood of 300 members, operating 610 missions in 123 countries. These included hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children’s and family counseling programs, personal helpers, orphanages, and schools. The Missionaries of Charity were also aided by Co-Workers, who numbered over 1 million by the 1990s.
Mother Teresa lay in repose in St Thomas, Kolkata for one week prior to her funeral, in September 1997. She was granted a state funeral by the Indian government in gratitude for her services to the poor of all religions in India. Her death was mourned in both secular and religious communities.
In tribute, Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan said that she was “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 our humanity.”
Governments, charity organizations and prominent individuals have been inspired by her work. She received numerous awards, including the Indian government’s Bharat Ratna (1980) and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
Following her death, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
The former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar said:
“She is the United Nations. She is peace in the world.”
BIOGRAPHY INFORMATION, thanks to FREE Wikipekia.
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Brava Mother Teresa!
Mother Teresa ~ WOMAN of ACTION™
July 12, 2012 by 16 Comments