Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu popularly known to the outside world as ‘Mother Tersa’ was born on August 26, 1910 and baptised on August 27 in Skopje, in Macedonia. Her family belonged to the Albanian community. Right from the childhood days Agnes liked to be in church, she liked to read and to pray and to sing. At twelve, she felt for the first time the desire to spend her life for Gods’ work, to give it to Him and to let Him decide. At 18, the decision was made. The last two years, she assisted several religions retreats in Let nice and it was clear to her that she would be a missionary for India. On December 1, 1928, she left for India, the country of her dreams. She was sent to Calcutta (now kolkata), to study to become a teacher. On May 24, 1937, she made her final vows in Darjeeling. She was named the headmistress of a secondary school for the middle class Bengali girls in the centre of Calcutta. Close to her institute was one of the greatest slums of Calcutta. Sister Teresa couldn’t close her eyes and started thinking, “Who cares for these poor living in the streets?” The great charity that spoke through her mother’s letters, reminded her of the basic call, to care for the poor. Sister Teresa regularly visited hospitals, slums and the poor people. She moved back to Darjeeling on the 10th of September. She afterwards referred to this journey as: “The most important journey of my life.” It was then, that she really heard God’s voice. The message was to help the poor and needy. This date is still observed as the inspiration day in the society. She was 38, when she said goodbye to her sisters and religious Loreto robe, to change it for a cheap white and blue sari. First, she went to Patna, to follow a nursing training with the sisters there.
One day a Bengali girl, from a well-off family and former student of Sister Teresa, wanted to stay with Sister Teresa and help her. This was a touching moment, but Sister Teresa was realistic and she spoke to the girl about the full poverty and about all the disagreeable aspects of the work. She proposed the girl to wait for some time.
The 19th of March 1949, the girl returned to Sister Teresa with no jewels and in a poor dress. The decision was made. She was the first to join Sister Teresa. The strength further increased with the passage of time. The sisters rose early in the morning, prayed for a long time, had adoration and attended mass, to find in their spiritual life, the strength to do the material work in the service of the poor. Sister Teresa saw the community grow and knew that now she could seriously think about starting a congregation. The ‘Constitutions of the Society of the Missionaries of Charity’ could then be presented to the archbishop, who was responsible for sending them for approval to Rome. Early in autumn, the Papal’s approval arrived and on the 7th of October, 1950, the feasting of the Holy Rosary was done. At that moment, there were in all twelve sisters.
Her work for the welfare of the poor and the needy speaks volumes. One of the first foundations of Mother Teresa is the ‘Home for the Dying’ in Calcutta. When she picked up a woman for the first time from the street she was half eaten up by rats and ants. All over India and the world, the ‘Missionaries of Charity’ have nobody else to care. Another early foundation was ‘Shishu Bhavan’, the Home for the babies. She also constituted home for the lepers known as the Shanti Nagar where the lepers could live and work in peace and be cared for. She also fought the battle against the abortion. When, in the early 80s, the world got shocked by the disease of AIDS that hundreds people she came ahead and provide shelter and care to those who are abandoned due to unknown nature of the disease.
When she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 her thoughts were: “I choose the poverty of our poor people. But I am grateful to receive the Nobel Prize in the name of the hungry, the naked, and the homeless, of the crippled, of the blind, of the lepers of all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared— for throughout society, people that have become a burden to tee society and are shunned by everyone.” In a survey published by Outlook magazine, Mother Teresa was voted the greatest Indian since the country’s independence in1947, from a poll of more than 50,000 responses. Truly her selfless service made her the most admiring women and loveable person on the earth. On September 5, 1997, at the age of 87 she passed away. Her funeral service was held on September 13, 1997. In 2003 Pope declared her as having holy healing powers and was later was given the title of ‘Saint’. Though she is no longer with us physically, her prayer her guidance, her good work for the poor and the needy and her legacy will remain with us forever.