Remembering Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary, and the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to the poor, particularly to the destitute of India.
In 1950, Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation that had over 4,500 nuns and was active in 133 countries in 2012. The congregation manages homes for people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. It also runs soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, children’s and family counselling programmes, as well as orphanages and schools. Members take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and profess a fourth vow – to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor.”
Mother Teresa was born on 26 August 1910 into a Kosovar Albanian family in Skopje, Ottoman Empire. Teresa left home in 1928 at age 18 to join the sisters of Loreto at Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland, to learn English with the intent of becoming a missionary; English was the language of instruction of the sisters of Loreto in India. She saw neither her mother nor her sister again. Her family lived in Skopje until 1934, when they moved to Tirana.
She arrived in India in 1929 and began her novitiate in Darjeeling, in the lower Himalayas, where she learned Bengali and taught at St. Teresa’s School near her convent. Teresa took her first religious vows on 24 May 1931. She chose to be named after Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries; because a nun in the convent had already chosen that name, she opted for its Spanish spelling (Teresa).
During this visit to Darjeeling by train, she heard the call of her inner conscience. She felt that she should serve the poor by staying with them. She asked for and received permission to leave the school. In 1950 she founded ‘Missionaries of Charity’. She went out to serve humanity with two saris with a blue border.
AWARDS AND HONOURS
In 1962 the Indian government awarded Mother Teresa the Padma Shri, one of its highest civilian honours, for her services to the people of India.
In 1979 she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work, and the following year the Indian government conferred on her the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour.
She was died on 5 September 1997 (aged 87) Calcutta, West Bengal, India.