|Photo By: Peta_de_Aztlan / Flickr|
Like Princess Diana, it will be also 20 years since the passing of the so-called "Living Saint." And like the deceased princess, Mother Teresa had a passion for charity by caring for the sick and the poor. In addition, it will be also a year since her canonization last September 4, 2016.
Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia. Her parents Nikola and Dranafile Bojaxhiu were of Albanian descent, and her family was devoutly Catholic.
At the age of eight, Agnes lost her dad. Following her father's demise, she became close to her mother who happened to be a pious and compassionate woman, traits that would engineer Agnes' deep commitment to charity.
In order to make ends meet, Agnes' mother established an embroidery and cloth business.
Agnes attended a convent-run primary school and a state-run secondary school. After spending her teenage years being involved with parish activities, including being a member of a local Sacred Heart choir, Agnes entered the Loreto Convent in Rathfarnam (Dublin), where she was received as a postulant and received the name of Teresa after St. Therese of Lisieux, her patron saint.
The Loreto order sent Agnes to India, and she arrived in Calcutta on January 6, 1929. She joined the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling upon arrival and made her final profession as a Loreto nun on May 24, 1937. From that point, she was referred to as Mother Teresa. She taught in St. Mary's Bengali Medium School during her Calcutta stint in the 1930s and 1940s.
September 10, 1946 was a significant day in Mother Teresa's life as she experienced a "call within a call" that changed her life forever. She recalled that during a train ride to the Himalayan foothills for a retreat, Christ spoke to her and told her to relinquish her teaching career in order to work in Calcutta's slums by helping the city's poorest and sickest people. This lead to the birth of the Missionaries of Charity family of Sisters, Brothers, Fathers, and Co-Workers. October 7, 1950 saw the congregation's establishment as the Archdiocese of Calcutta's religious institute.
Mother Teresa enlarged her institute's work within Calcutta and throughout India throughout the 50s and 60s. Her works involved an open-air school, a shelter for the dying, a leper colony, an orphanage, a nursing home, a family clinic, and an array of mobile health clinics.
On February 1, 1965, Pope Paul VI awarded the Decree of Praise to the Congregation. In the same year, the first foundation outside India was established in Cocorote, Venezuela. The year 1968 saw the Society's expansions in Europe and Africa
In 1971, Mother Teresa went to New York City for the opening of her first American-based charity house. Then in 1979, the Missionaries of Charity reached Communist countries, starting with a house in Zagreb, Croatia. It was also in the same year that Mother Teresa clinched the Nobel Peace Prize for her work "in bringing help to suffering humanity."
In 1982, she covertly went to Beirut, Lebanon where she helped both children of Christian and Muslim faiths. 1985 saw Mother Teresa's return to New York where she spoke at the United Nations General Assembly's 40th anniversary. She also established the Gift of Love, a home to care for people infected with HIV/AIDS.
Amid her deteriorating health from the late 80s through the 90s, Mother Teresa traveled across the world for the profession of novices, the opening of new houses, and service to the poor and disaster-stricken. South Africa, Albania, Cuba, and war-torn Iraq became the birthplaces of new communities.
Then, on September 5, 1997, Mother Teresa passed away at the age of 87, five days after the death of Princess Diana, a close friend of hers who shared the same passion for charity. Six days later, she would receive a state funeral.
October 19, 2003, saw Mother Teresa's beatification. Thirteen years later, on September 4, 2016, she was canonized as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.