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Mother Teresa; The mother who changed the world with love.
Mother Teresa is one of the world’s beacons for peace, justice, and humanitarianism. She has been recognized across the globe and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work. She was the founder of the Order of Missionaries of Charity, and her Order was dedicated to care for the sick and poor. They established a hospice, several centers to aid the disabled and aged, and a leper colony. Although her achievement to help the world’s most marginalized have made tremendous impact, all of these were made possible by a humble woman from humble beginnings.
Mother Teresa was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia. Both of her parents were Albanian and their family was largely supported by her father who worked as an entrepreneur and trader of goods. They were a family strongly tied to their Catholic roots, with Agnes’ mother highly active in their local church.
Agnes discovered her religious calling early in life. When she was 8, her father died of a mysterious illness and became deeply close with her mother. Her mother inspired her to be just as religious and charitable as she was, and this is when Agnes began to develop a commitment to helping the poor. Agnes was an active church member too, being a member of the local choir. It was on a fateful day when she was 12 and on an annual pilgrimage with the congregation to the Church of Black Madonna when she felt her calling for a religious life. When she turned 18, Agnes decided to become a nun and joined the Sisters of Loreto in Dublin. That is where she took the name Sister Mary Teresa.
A year after, she traveled to Darjeeling, India where she made her first profession of vows. She then went to Calcutta where she taught at Saint Mary’s High School for Girls, where she taught girls who hailed from some of the city’s poorest families. In 1944, thirteen years after she moved to India, she became the school’s principal.
It was not until two years later, however, when Mother Teresa felt a second calling, or what she would later call “a call within a call.” She recounted that it was when she was on a train from Calcutta to the Himalayan foothills that she felt as though Christ spoke to her, nudging her to abandon being an educator and instead dedicate her work to aiding Calcutta’s sickest and poorest people. After a year of lobbying within her order where she made her first vow, she was able to exit the convent and began her journey to Calcutta.
There, she began her mission of aiding “the unwanted and the unloved.” She opened an open-air school and established a home for the dying destitute. She established her own congregation, the Missionaries of Charity, which started from only a number of members but quickly grew as the congregation’s charitable activities grew. In the next few years, Mother Teresa will be able to establish a leper colony, nursing home, mobile clinics and an orphanage.
Mother Teresa continued her work in the next few decades. Mother Teresa began to expand their work internationally in the mid-1960’s, thanks to the blessing of Pope Paul VI. In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work. In 1985, she spoke at the UN General Assembly.
After several years of struggling with health problems, Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997. At the time of her death, Missionaries of Charity members were strong at 4,000 members and counting, with 610 foundations in more than a hundred countries.