Biography St. Teresa of Calcutta
Born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, the modern day saint, St. Teresa of Calcutta, was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. She was involved in the Church at a young age, as she received her First Communion at age five and was confirmed at age six. Her mother’s stories of missionary work inspired her to become a missionary herself.
In 1928 at age 18, Gonxha left home to pursue missionary work in the order of the Sisters of Loreto in Dublin, Ireland. Here, she received the name, Sister Mary Teresa. In 1929, Sister Teresa moved to Calcutta, India to teach at a school in the Loreto Entally community known as St. Mary’s School for girls. After making her Final Profession of Vows in 1937, Sister Teresa was named what people know her as today, Mother Teresa. Throughout the next twenty years, Mother Teresa continued to teach at other schools in India.
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On September 10, 1946, Mother Teresa received her “call within a call.” Jesus’s call to her was to put God’s love into action by serving the sick, dying, hungry, and homeless. Jesus also asked her to establish a religious community focused on serving the poor. Two years later, she was granted permission to leave the Loreto convent to pursue her call from God.
Mother Teresa visited the slums of India for the first time on December 21. In the slums, she started her day of service with communion and then carried a rosary in her hand. She received medical training to help her serve the poor to the fullest. After a few months of serving in the slums, Mother Teresa was joined by some of her former students. More of her students came over the course of time to help her serve the poor.
As part of her call, Mother Teresa established the religious order of women known as the Missionaries of Charity in 1950. The Missionaries of Charity opened houses and centers in numerous countries around the world. In 1981, she founded the Corpus Christi Movement.
St. Teresa of Calcutta was also known as a controversial figure due to her views on abortion and divorce. She firmly believed that abortion is the greatest evil in the world. She also did not believe in divorce and remarriage. Mother Teresa’s remarkable work awarded her many awards. In 1962, she received the Indian Padmashri Award. Also, in 1979, she received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Although Mother Teresa spread an immense amount of positivity in the world, she suffered from a feeling of separation from God and darkness in her soul. At the end of her life, she started experiencing major health problems. Mother Teresa passed away on September 5, 1997.
Pope John Paul II expedited her beatification process, which led it to be the shortest in modern history. Mother Teresa was beatified in December of 2002. She is celebrated on her feast day, September 5. She is the patron saint of World Youth Day. She was canonized on September 4, 2016. Mother Teresa is remembered for her joy, love for God, and commitment to serve the poorest of the poor.
St. Teresa of Calcutta made prayer a priority in her life. She and her sisters went to mass every morning. After working in the morning through the afternoon, Mother Teresa and her sisters would spend time to internally reflect during prayer for three hours every day before returning back to work. Mother Teresa created prayer cards with lessons that she had learned from the Church, her prayer life, and her ministry to the poor. She summed up prayer into five steps: The Simple Path; The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, and the fruit of service is peace. Today, the Saint Teresa of Calcutta prayer and the novena prayer to Saint Teresa of Calcutta are prayers dedicated to her.
Mother Teresa lived a life infused with Jesus’s love. She knew from a young age that she wanted to become a nun. Just like Jesus, St. Teresa of Calcutta wanted to heal the sick and needy. St. Teresa spent most of her life in the slums and leper colonies of India. She gave them the medical attention these people needed. Also, both Mother Teresa and Jesus made sacrifices for the good of others out of love. St. Teresa sacrificed her time to dedicate it to missionary work and Jesus sacrificed his life to save us from our sins.
Although St. Teresa was an extraordinary human being, she still lived an ordinary life. Growing up, St. Teresa went to school and participated in hobbies such as singing in her Church choir. Also, Mother Teresa endured different hardships both spiritually and physically. She experienced hard times when she left a wealthy convent to live in the slums. She also experienced times of darkness and sadness just like most people. Lastly, she received criticism for her views on certain world issues. However, her criticism was on a different level of a normal person as she received it worldwide.
Throughout her life, Mother Teresa has demonstrated several heroic virtues by going above and beyond. St. Teresa’s heroism was greatly demonstrated when she traveled through a war zone to save thirty-seven children from the front lines. Another way her heroic virtues were demonstrated was hidden from the world until her death. St. Teresa revealed that she suffered from a feeling of darkness and disconnect with God during her service and missionary work. Despite this suffering, Mother Teresa was a hero and persevered her call to service. By 1997, 4,000 people were part of Mother Teresa’s Sisters. She had established 610 foundations in 123 countries around the world dedicated to the service of the poor.
After researching the life of her, teenagers can emulate the life St. Teresa of Calcutta to help them live a holy life. St. Teresa taught the world that if a person wants to make a difference in the world, they do not always have to make a grand gesture. Instead, that person can start making a difference in their own community. Teenagers can easily apply this advice to their life by participating in local service opportunities. Prayer is another way teenagers can become more like Mother Teresa. St. Teresa fulfilled Jesus’s ideals of prayer; prayer is a necessity, not a luxury. Following her prayer method, the Simple Path, teenagers can build a relationship with God. Following in the footsteps of the miraculous St. Teresa of Calcutta, teenagers will become holy, disciples of Christ by doing ordinary things extraordinarily.
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- “Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), Biography.” Vatican, www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_20031019_madre-teresa_en.html.