Mother Teressa of Calcutta

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  • Topic: Mother Teresa, Missionaries of Charity, Charles Keating
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  • Published : June 11, 2012
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Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu[1](pronounced [aɡˈnɛs ˈɡɔndʒa bɔjaˈdʒiu]), was a Catholic nun of Albanian[2][3] ethnicity and Indiancitizenship,[4] 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. Following her death she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.[5][6] In the 1970s, she became well-known internationally for her humanitarian work and advocacy for the rights of the poor and helpless, which was documented by Malcolm Muggeridge in his documentary and subsequent 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, they 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. Governments, charity organisations and prominent individuals have been inspired by her work. She received numerous awards, including a number from the Indian Government, one of which was the Bharat Ratna (1980), as well as international awards, such as the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She has not been without her critics, however, including prominent atheist Christopher Hitchens, cultural critic Michael Parenti, Indian-English physician Aroup Chatterjee and the World Hindu Council (Vishva Hindu Parishad). They accuse her of proselytizing, strongly opposing contraception and abortion, believing in poverty's spiritual goodness and alleged 'secretbaptisms of the dying'.[citation needed] In 2010 on the 100th anniversary of her birth, she was honoured around the world, and her work praised by Indian President Pratibha Patil.[7] Missionaries of Charity

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."[25] 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.[26][27]Initially she started a school in Motijhil (Calcutta); soon she started tending to the needs of the destitute and starving.[28] 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.[29] 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...
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