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Mother Teresa

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BornAugust 26, 1910, Skopje, Macedonia (FYROM)

DiedSeptember 5, 1997, Kolkata

Full nameAgnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu.

EducationLoreto Abbey, Rathfarnham (1928–1929)

ParentsNikollë BojaxhiuDranafile Bojaxhiu

Mother Teresa was born on August 27,1910 in Skopje,Macedonia. Mother Teresa’s original name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Her father was a successful merchant and she was youngest of the three siblings. She received her First Communion at the age of five and a half and was confirmed in November 1916. From the day of her First Holy Communion, a love for souls was within her. Her father’s sudden death when Gonxha was about eight years old left in the family in financial straits. Drane raised her children firmly and lovingly, greatly influencing her daughter’s character and vocation. Gonxha’s religious formation was further assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart in which she was much involved. 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. There she received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

After a few months of training at the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dublin Mother Teresa came to India on 6 January 1929. On May 24, 1931, she took her initial vows as a nun., On 24 May 1937, Sister Teresa made her Final Profession of Vows, becoming, as she said, the “spouse of Jesus” for “all eternity.” From that time on she was called Mother Teresa. She continued teaching at St. Mary’s and in 1944 became the school’s principal.

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 10 September 1946, Teresa experienced what she later described as “the call within the call” while travelling 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.”] One author later observed, “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 theHoly 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”.

 On 21 December she went for the first time to the slums. 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.

She visited families, washed the sores of some children, cared for an old man lying sick on the road and nursed a woman dying of hunger and TB. By the early 1960s, Mother Teresa began to send her Sisters to other parts of India. The Decree of Praise granted to the Congregation by Pope Paul VI in February 1965 encouraged her to open a house in Venezuela. It was soon followed by foundations in Rome and Tanzania and, eventually, on every continent. Starting in 1980 and continuing through the 1990s, Mother Teresa opened houses in almost all of the communist countries, including the former Soviet Union, Albania and Cuba. 

The physical and spiritual needs of the poor, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963, in 1976 the contemplative branch of the Sisters, in 1979 the Contemplative Brothers, and in 1984 the Missionaries of Charity Fathers. She formed the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, people of many faiths and nationalities with whom she shared her spirit of prayer, simplicity, sacrifice and her apostolate of humble works of love. This spirit later inspired 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 as a “little way of holiness” for those who desire to share in her charism and spirit. 

She has received a number of awards and distinctions Numerous awards, beginning with the Indian Padmashri Award in 1962 and notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, honoured her work, while an increasingly interested media began to follow her activities. She received both prizes and attention “for the glory of God and in the name of the poor.” 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). Mother Teresa was the recipient of numerous honours In 2003, she was beatified as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta”. A second miracle credited to her intercession is required before she can be recognised as a saint by the Catholic Church

Teresa received Vatican permission on 7 October 1950 to start the diocesan congregation that would become the Missionaries of Charity.

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In 1952, Mother Teresa opened the first Home for the Dying in space made available by the city ofCalcutta. 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,” she said, “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.

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.

She visited the Soviet republic of Armenia following the 1988 earthquake, and met with Nikolai Ryzhkov, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers.

The whole of Mother Teresa’s life and labour bore witness to the joy of loving, the greatness and dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully and with love, and the surpassing worth of friendship with God. On March 13, 1997, Mother Teresa stepped down from the head of Missionaries of Charity. On 5 September Mother Teresa’s earthly life came to an end. She died on September 5, 1997, just 9 days after her 87th birthday. She was given the honour of a state funeral by the Government of India and her body was buried in the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Her tomb quickly became a place of pilgrimage and prayer for people of all faiths, rich and poor alike. Mother Teresa left a testament of unshakable faith, invincible hope and extraordinary charity. Her response to Jesus’ plea, “Come be My light,” made her a Missionary of Charity, a “mother to the poor,” a symbol of compassion to the world, and a living witness to the thirsting love of God. Following Mother Teresa’s death, the Holy See began the process of beatification, the second step towards possible canonization, or sainthood.

Less than two years after her death, in view of Mother Teresa’s widespread reputation of holiness and the favours being reported, Pope John Paul II permitted the opening of her Cause of Canonization. On 20 December 2002 he approved the decrees of her heroic virtues and miracles.
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During her lifetime, Mother Teresa was named 18 times in the yearly Gallup’s most admired man and woman poll as one of the ten women around the world that Americans admired most, finishing first several times in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1999, a poll of Americans ranked her first in Gallup’s List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century. In that survey, she out-polled all other volunteered answers by a wide margin, and was in first place in all major demographic categories except the very young

 Mother Teresa inspired a variety of commemorations. She has been memorialised through museums, been named patroness of various churches, and had various structures and roads named after her, including Albania’s international airport. Mother Teresa Day (Dita e Nënë Terezës) on 19 October is a public holiday in Albania. In 2009 the Memorial House of Mother Teresa was opened in her hometown Skopje, in Macedonia. The Roman Catholic cathedral in Pristina is also dedicated in her honour. Its construction sparked controversy in Muslim circles in 2011;

 Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries. They run hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children’s and family counselling programmes; orphanages; and schools. Members must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience as well as a fourth vow, to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor”.

Indian Railways introduced a new train, “Mother Express”, named after Mother Teresa, on 26 August 2010 to mark her birth centenary.

The Tamil Nadu State government organised centenary celebrations of Mother Teresa on 4 December 2010 in Chennai, headed by Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi.

Beginning 5 September 2013, the anniversary of her death has been designated as the International Day of Charity by the United Nations General Assembly.

Quotes

There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those.

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.

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Plesantlife offers Salutations to Legend Mother Teresa.