Everyone has heard of Mother Teresa, and most people know that a year ago she became a saint in the Catholic Church. You probably think of her as someone who helped the poor; but as we celebrate her this month, test your knowledge about Mother Teresa. Did you know that …
- Her name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, and she was born Aug. 26, 1910, in Macedonia to a financially comfortable Albanian family that became less secure at the death of her father when she was eight years old..
- By the time she was 12, Agnes he knew that she would commit herself to a religious vocation as a missionary. She left home at 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto in Rathfarnham, Ireland. She never saw her family again.
- Agnes transferred to the Sisters of Loreto convent in Darjeeling, India and took her vows in 1931, choosing the name Teresa to honor Saints Thérèse of Lisieux and Teresa of Avila. Teresa began teaching history and geography in Calcutta, where she stayed for 15 years, but was distressed by the poverty she saw all around her.
- In 1946 Teresa went on a retreat and realized her true vocation: “I heard the call to give up all and follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.” The Sisters of Loreto allowed her to leave the order, and the Archbishop of Calcutta granted her permission to live and work among the poor.
- In 1948 Sister Teresa replaced her nun’s habit with the simple sari and sandals of India’s poor, and moved to the slums to begin her work. With no income and no way to obtain food and supplies, she begged on the streets and was often tempted to return to convent life.
- One of her first projects was to teach poor children; she didn’t have any equipment or supplies, but she taught by writing in the dirt with sticks. She visited their families, inquiring about their needs and helping provide for them when she could.
- Soon she had other volunteers wanting to help; by 1950 she was able to start the Missionaries of Charity. They opened a hospice for the poor, a home for sufferers of leprosy, and a home for orphans and homeless youths.
- Mother Teresa was honored with many awards throughout her life, most famously with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She refused the traditional Nobel banquet, instead requesting that the $192,000 budget be given to help the poor of India.
- She led the Missionaries of Charity until just months before her death on Sept. 5, 1997.
- Mother Teresa was canonized on Sep. 4, 2016. In a ceremony at St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis declared her a saint, yet noted, “With great spontaneity, I think we will continue to call her Mother Teresa.”
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, you allowed the thirsting love of Jesus on the Cross to become a living flame within you, and so became the light of His love to all. Obtain from the Heart of Jesus (here make your request). Teach me to allow Jesus to penetrate and possess my whole being so completely that my life, too, may radiate His light and love to others. Amen.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Cause of Our Joy, pray for me.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pray for me.
(Prayer © Missionaries of Charity)
by Jeannette de Beauvoir