This Sunday, September 4th, Mother Teresa will be canonized a saint. She was born, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, of Albanian descent, on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia. Her father, a well-respected businessman, died when Agnes was only eight years old. Her mother, a deeply religious woman, supported her family by running an embroidery and cloth business. In 1928, Agnes left home to enter the Loreto Convent in Ireland and took the name Teresa, after St. Therese of Lisieux. In 1929, she was sent to India where, several years later, she would make her final profession. For the next several years she taught at St. Mary’s Bengali Medium School in Calcutta.
In 1946, on a train from Calcutta to Darjeeling, she received a special call from God, which would lead to the founding of the Missionaries of Charity. Her driving purpose and inspiration was “to quench the infinite thirst of Jesus on the cross for love and souls... by laboring at the salvation and sanctification of the poorest of the poor.” The Missionaries of Charity was officially acknowledged by the Church as a religious institute for the Archdiocese of Calcutta on October 7, 1950. Over the next couple decades, the Missionaries of Charity grew throughout India, and obtained greater recognition from the Church before spreading around the world.
Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, and by that time there were 158 Missionaries of Charity foundations. In 1985, Mother Teresa spoke at the United Nations General Assembly, and later that same year she would open her first house for AIDS patients in New York. Mother Teresa died in July of 1997 at her motherhouse in Calcutta. By that time, the Missionaries of Charity sister numbered nearly 4,000. There were almost 600 foundations in 123 countries around the world.
Mother Teresa is truly a saint of our times, and one to whom we should look for spiritual help on our journey of faith. Throughout her life, she suffered great doubts about God and her relationship with him. She had difficulty feeling God’s presence as she was exposed to so much suffering. In spite of her feelings of doubt and desolation, she remained faithful and loved.
I’d strongly recommend watching the movie on the life of Mother Teresa on www.formed.org, available to us through our parish subscription. Check it out!
St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!