Mother Teresa Mother Teresa is a gift from God that has been sent down on Earth to help people who needs her help. She is a well known person throughout the world for devoting her life in helping the poor, the homeless, the sick, and the dying. Her faith in loving, serving, and respecting those who are poor and deprived gives us powerful lessons to treat our fellow human beings with love and respect. Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born on August 27, 1910 in a Macedonian town of Skopje. Her parents baptized Agnes as a Christian.
She was the youngest of the three. Her older sister Aga, was five years old and her older brother Lazar, was two years old. Agnes father died after he collapsed and was brought to the hospital. But her mother managed to keep the family together by starting a small embroidery business. Although Anges mother had a little business and a family to take of she still had time to help the local poor. Agnes would accompany her mother on her visits to the sick, the elderly, and the lonely.
From a very early age, Agnes exhibited a tenderness for those who were less fortunate than she. In that free time she would also go to the church of the Sacred Heart in Skpoje, organizing prayer groups and arranging special observances. Agnes enjoys saying her prayers on her own and often could be found kneeling in church when no one else was there ( Clucas, 1988 ). Agnes became very flushed with her mothers personal faith and desire to serve God in a practical, helpful way. And from her mother it gave Agnes a lasting impression for helping and serving the Lord.
Agnes attended a nonCathlolic government school. At the age of twelve she became interested in religion. She amazed the church meeting by pinpointing the exact location and the work done by each mission, on the map of the world ( Leigh, 1986 ). Around the age of fourteen she began to think that not only would she become a nun, but that she would join an order of missionaries. During her senior year of highschool, she began to seriously consider the possibility dedicating her life to God.
When Agnes prayed for guidance, she believed that God was calling her to go to the mission in India and she decided that she will go. This was her response, I decided to leave my home and become a nun, and since then Ive never doubted that Ive done the right thing. It was the will of God. It was his choice ( Clucas, 1988 ). Agnes was off to Abbey in Dublin, Ireland.
The reason for her to go their was to learn English, the language they would teach school children in India. But the most important thing she learned was silence. There was to be silence at the dining table while one of the sisters read aloud from the Bible or another book. And then, from bedtime to morning, came the Great Silence. Not a word was to be spoken until the girls preparing to be nuns would awake and come together to hear Mass and take Communion. ( Jacobs, 1991 ).
In Ireland, was the place that Agnes changed her name to Teresa. She chose that name in honor of the French saint, Therese of Lisieux, known as the Little Flower of Jesus ( Leigh, 1986 ). In January, 1929, Agnes finally arrived in India. By then she finally got used to her new name Teresa. Then two years later, she took her first vows as a Sister of Loreto.
She pledged herself to a life of poverty, purity, and obedience. As Sister Teresa, she began to teach and help the nurses at a small medical station in northern India. Next, she was assigned to teach at the Loreto convent school in a section of Calcutta. In May, 1937, Sister Teresa took her final vows. Soon afterward the Head ( principal ) of the school retired, and Teresa took her place as Head, becoming for the first time Mother Teresa.
She should have been happy. Yet, as she looked around her, she could not avoid seeing Calcuttas poor. She began to pray that, somehow, she could do more to help those who suffered so much. From Skopje, her mother, Drana, encouraged her, reminding her why she had gone to India in the first place- to help the poorest of the poor. (Jacobs, 1991 ). On September 10, 1946, while traveling by train for her annual retreat, something happened.
Mother Teresa heard the voice of God. She refers to it: And when it happens the only thing to do is to say yes. The message was quite clear-I was to give up all and follow Jesus into the slims-to serve Him in the poorest of the poor. I knew it was His will and that I had to follow Him. There was no doubt that it was to be His work.
I was to leave the convent and to work with the poor, living among them. It was an order. I knew where I belonged but I did not know how to get there. ( Teresa, 1995 ) To start her own order of sisters, first she had to ask permission for her supervisors to leave. At first, the authorities wouldnt let her do this but Mother Teresa prayed and finally her request was granted. To her it almost seemed a miracle. On August 16, 1948, she was prepared to leave the convent.
She put on regular clothes and sandals and stepped outside into the streets of the slum, alone. For three months she studied medicine with the Medical Missionary Sisters at Patna. She learned to do many things. She learned how to give injections, how to set broken bones, and how to deliver a baby. Just before Christmas, 1948, Mother Teresa returned to Calcutta.
She had no place to live and carried only five rupees-less than one US dollar. The Little Sisters of the Poor, an order whose mission was to care for the elderly poor, agreed to let her live with them. She helped the sisters for guidance and her own mission in life. Then once again she began to walk the streets of the slum. After walking around for about an hour, with five children by her side, she sat down in an open space beneath a tree. She started to write the Bengali alphabet in the dirt with a stick. Curious, other children joined her.
Soon there were thirty or forty. Everyday she taught the children in her outdoor school. And during the afternoon she gave them containers of milk. And during the evening she would go out and look for elderly people who needs her help. This is her prayer for Gods help: You, Lord, only You, all of You.
Make use of me. You made me leave my convent where I was at least of some use. Now guide me, as You wish. ( Jacobs, 1991 ) Her work seem edendless. Many people would follow her in the streets.
They bent down on there knees begging for food. And most of them would kiss her feet, hoping for help. But she kept on working. And refused to return to the peaceful life of Loreto. Soon she found others by her side trying to help her.
Many sisters joined her. In 1950, Mother Teresa applied to Rome, asking official recognition for her new order of nuns. And couple of months later a letter of approval came, establishing the Order of the Missionaries of Charity. By this time there were twelve sisters. There daily life would be to wake up in the morning at 4:40 a.m.
and immediately went to chapel for prayer. For breakfast they ate a simple Indian flat bread. From 8 a.m. to 12:30 they served the poor. Following lunch came meditation and prayer and then service to the poor again until 7:30 p.m.
Supper was followed by evening prayers at 9:00 and bed at 9:45. In 1952, Mother Teresa gained permission from the city officials to use the back rooms of a former temple as a place to shelter the dying. She and the other sisters would carry people there, so that at least they could die with some dignity. (Jacobs, 1991). As Mother Teresa said, A beautiful death is, for people who have lived like animals, to die like angels-loved and wanted. (Jacobs,1991).
By 1953 the Missionaries of Charity had moved on to larger quarters. New sisters joined the community. As word of their kindly deeds spread, gifts of money and goods began to arrive form the outside. In 1955, Mother Teresa opened Shishu Bhavan, a homecare for children. Many children came to this place to help from Mother Teresa and her nuns. After two or three weeks of care the children would be well enough to put a smile on their face. In 1957, Mother Teresa opened Shanti Nagar (leper town) a secluded place where lepers-even those who had lost fingers or hands-could learn a trade and support themselves.
Soon the fame of Mother Teresa and her nuns began to spread. Many volunteers wanted to help in her work. Soon she expanded her work and opened new houses to help the poor in other countries. By 1990 there were four hundred thirty homes in the ninety five countries around the world. Mother Teresa traveled from continent to continent.
At first, paying for the airfare proved troublesome, since she had no money of her own. Once she even asked if she could pay her way by working as a stewardess. Hearing of the amazing request, Bibliography BIBLIOGRAPHY Clucas, Joan Graff. Mother Teresa. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.
Jacobs, William Jay. Mother Teresa. Connecticut: William Jay Jacobs, 1991. Leigh, Vanora. Mother Teresa. New York: Bookwright Press, 1986.
Vardey, Lucinda. Mother Teresa. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995. History Essays.