A mother to all, Remembering Mother Teresa

Anagha Telang

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."

Mother Teresa was born on 26 August, 1910 as  Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu ("Agnes"; Gonxhe means "rosebud" or "little flower" in Albanian) in a Kosovar Albanian family in Skopje (now the capital of the Republic of Macedonia), Ottoman Empire.
She was the last of three children born to Nikola and Dranafile Bojaxhiu, Albanian grocers. 

Initial Life
  • When Agnes was 9 years old, her father died. 
  • She attended public school in Skopje, and first showed religious interests as a member of a school society that focused on foreign missions.
  •  By the age of 12 she felt she had a calling to help the poor.
  • This calling took sharper focus through Mother Teresa's teenage years, when she was especially inspired by reports of work being done in India by Yugoslav Jesuit missionaries serving in Bengal, India. 
  • When she was 18, Mother Teresa left home to join a community of Irish nuns, the Sisters of Loretto, who had a mission in Calcutta, India. 
  • She received training in Dublin, Ireland, and in Darjeeling, India, taking her first religious vows in 1928 and her final religious vows in 1937.
  • One of Mother Teresa's first assignments was to teach, and eventually to serve as principal, in a girls' high school in Calcutta. Although the school was close to the slums, the students were mainly wealthy. 
  • 1946: Mother Teresa experienced what she called a second vocation or "call within a call." She felt an inner urging to leave the convent life and work directly with the poor. 
  • 1948: The Vatican gave her permission to leave the Sisters of Loretto and to start a new work under the guidance of the Archbishop of Calcutta.

The Missionories Of Charity
  • She was all set to work with the poor, and for that she took an intensive medical training with the American Medical Missionary Sisters in Patna, India. 
  • Her first project in Calcutta was to gather unschooled children from the slums and to teach them. 
  • She received both financial support and volunteers. 
  • 1950: Her group, now called the Missionaries of Charity, received official status as a religious community within the Archdiocese of Calcutta. 
  • Members took the traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but they added a fourth vow—to give free service to the most poor.
  • The Missionaries of Charity received considerable publicity, and Mother Teresa used it to benefit her work. 
  • 1957: They began to work with lepers (those suffering from leprosy) and slowly expanded their educational work, at one point running nine elementary schools in Calcutta. 
  • They also opened a home for orphans and abandoned children and they were present in 22 cities of India
  • Mother Teresa also visited other countries such as Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Australia, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Italy to begin new foundations.
  • 1979: Mother Teresa's groups had more than two hundred different operations in over twenty-five countries around the world, with many more ventures. 
  • Her main work included
1.   shelters for the dying
2.   orphanages, and homes for the mentally ill  
3.   Service to the very poor.
  • 1988: Mother Teresa sent her Missionaries of Charity into Russia and opened a home for AIDS patients in San Francisco, California. 
  • 1991: she returned home to Albania and opened a home in Tirana, the capital. At this time there were 168 homes operating in India.

Awards & Honours
  • 1962: Padma Shri Award for distinguished service.
  • 1971: Pope John XXIII Peace Prize
  • 1971: Prize of the Good Samaritan, Boston
  • 1971: Kennedy Prize
  • 1972: Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding
  • 1972: Koruna Dut, angel of charity from the President of India.
  • 1973: Templeton Prize
  • 1975: Albert Schweitzer International Prize
  • 1977: Honorary PhD in Theology, University of Cambridge, England
  • 1979: Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1980: Bharat Ratna
  • 1982: Honorary PhD from the Catholic University Brussels, Belgium
  • 1985: Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • 1996: Honorary U.S. citizenship (only the 4th person to receive this honor)
  • 1997: Congressional Gold Medal
  • September 4, 2016: Pope Francis canonizes Mother Teresa, officially making her Saint Teresa

Death & Last Days
  • 1983: Teresa had a heart attack while she was visiting Pope John Paul II. 
  • 1989: A second attack and she received an artificial pacemaker. 
  • 1991: after a bout of pneumonia in Mexico, she had additional heart problems. 
  • Although Teresa offered to resign as head of the Missionaries of Charity, in a secret ballot the sisters of the congregation voted for her to stay and she agreed to continue.
  •  April 1996: She fell, breaking her collarbone, and four months later she had malaria and heart failure. 
  • Although Teresa had heart surgery, her health was clearly declining. 
  • According to Archbishop of Calcutta Henry Sebastian D'Souza, he ordered a priest to perform an exorcism (with her permission) when she was first hospitalized with cardiac problems because he thought she might be under attack by the devil.
  • 13 March 1997: Teresa resigned as head of the Missionaries of Charity
  • She died on 5 September. 
  • At the time of her death, the 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 programmes, orphanages and schools. 
  • The Missionaries of Charity were aided by co-workers numbering over one million by the 1990s.
  • Teresa lay in repose in St Thomas, Calcutta, for a week before her funeral. 
  • She received a state funeral from the Indian government in gratitude for her service to the poor of all religions in the country.

It has been alleged on various instances that Mother Teresa believed that "Suffering is a gift from the god" and despite getting funds her medical centers were not providing proper health care facilities to the people. 

Post a comment