Mother Teresa of Calcutta was an Albanian-born Indian Roman Catholic nun and founder of the Missionaries of Charity. She was a very devout catholic who dedicated her life to caring for well-being of others and helping those in need of love and affection. Her beliefs and values of life reflected her religious identity and purpose, which developed and contributed to her life and work.
Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, in Macedonia, on the 26th of August, 1910. From her childhood, Agnes attended prayers and received first communion at the age of five. Her father died when she was just eight years old leaving the family in financial straits. Her mother raised her children firmly as Roman Catholics and this greatly influenced Agnes' character and vocation. Her religious formation was further assisted by the parish of the Sacred Heart in which she was much involved. Agnes was fascinated by stories of the lives of missionaries and their service in Bengal. By the age of 12, she was convinced that she should commit herself to a religious life. She left home at the age of 18 and joined the sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India.
She arrived in India and began her novitiate in Darjeeling in 1929, where she taught at the St. Mary’s school. She took her first religious vows as a nun on 24th May 1931. She chose to be named after Therese de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries and received the name Sister Mary Teresa. She stood her final profession of vows on 14th May 1937, while serving as a teacher at the Loreto convent school in eastern Calcutta.
Mother Teresa was deeply disturbed by the suffering and poverty surrounding her in Calcutta. On 10th September 1946, she experienced what she later described as “the call within the call”. She heard God’s voice- the message was “to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.” It was an order and had to be obeyed. “To fail would have been to break the faith.”
She left the Loreto community and devoted herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. She began her missionary work with the poor in 1948 wearing the traditional white cotton sari with a blue border. After receiving basic medical training in Patna , she ventured out into the slums. Although she had no funds and no income, she depended on Divine Providence and started the first open-air school for slum children in Calcutta, helping them and teaching them about hygiene. Soon she started tending to the needs of the destitute and starving. In early 1949 she was joined by a group of women and laid the foundations to create a new religious community helping the “poorest of the poor.”
On 7th October 1950, Mother Teresa started the Missionaries of Charity. Its mission was to care for “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society”.
It began as a small order with 13 members in Calcutta and by 1997 it had grown to more than 4000 sisters. In 1952 Mother Teresa opened a home for the dying in Calcutta. She converted an abandoned Hindu temple into the Home of the Pure Heart. Those brought to the home received medical attention and were afforded the opportunity to die with dignity, according to the rituals of their faith. “A beautiful death is for people who live like animals to die like angels-loved and wanted.”
The Missionaries of charity established a home and clinics for those suffering from Hansen’s disease, commonly known as leprosy, providing medication, bandages and food. Later in 1955 they opened a children’s home of the Immaculate Heart, as a haven for orphans and homeless youth. The order spread through India in the 1960’s and soon expanded through the globe.
The Missionaries of Charity Brothers was founded in 1963 and contemplative branch of the sisters followed in 1976. In 1981 Mother...