Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Agnes Goxha Bojaxhiu was born in 1910, in what was then Yugoslavia. Her parents were Albanian. by the time she was twelve years old, she knew she wanted to be a missionary. When she was eighteen, she entered the community of the Loreto sisters in Calcutta, India.
Sister Teresa taught geography at St. Mary's High School in Calcutta. She later became principal. Her students were all from well-off families. The poor children from Calcutta's slums were not allowed admission. There was a big difference between the comfortable lifestyle in the convent and the wretched poverty just outside.
On September 10, 1946, while riding on a train, Sister Teresa felt an unmistakable call from God to serve the poorest of the poor. By the spring of 1948, she had received permission to go out of her safe convent walls and work among the poor. In August, she put on a white cotton sari edged in blue, which was to become her new Order's habit. After taking a nurse's training course, Mother Teresa opened a school in Moti Jheel, the poorest section of Calcutta.
Soon other young women joined her and in 1950 the Missionaries of Charity became a new community in the Church. Mother Teresa and her sisters lived among the poor in order to serve them better. Each sister was allowed only two saris, which cost about a dollar each. In this way, they could teach by example that it is possible to keep clean with only one change of clothing. Mother Teresa valued poverty so highly, that she only accepted gifts from benefactors if they could be used to help the poor. She once turned down a donation of $500,000 because the donor said it must be used only as security for the Order. Mother Teresa knew that God would provide for her community's future. It was up to her to help the poor today.
Mother Teresa knew that she and her sisters would not have the strength needed to do this work if they did not stay united to Jesus in the Eucharist. They began each morning with Mass and Communion. They ended each day with an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. As she became known throughout the world, she remained humble and poor. She took every opportunity to speak out for the poorest of the poor, for the helpless people on the fringes of society and for the unborn children. She challenged people with power and means to take responsibility for those who had none.
Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997. She was beatified by Pople John Paul II on October 19, 2003. Blessed Mother Teresa will become a saint on September 4, 2016.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta once said: "Christ will judge us on our love for him, how we fed him, not only with rice and bread, but with the understanding love we showed in our own homes, in our own communities."