Our featured Saint for this week: Mother Teresa
Summary: Mother Teresa was an ethnic Albanian born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu on 26 August 1910. Her father was involved in Albanian politics and died when she was eight years old. In her early years she was fascinated by stories of the missionaries and their service in India. By age 12 she was convinced that she should commit herself to a religious life, so she left home at 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary and never again saw her mother or sister.
She went to the Loreto Abbey in Ireland, to learn English, the language the Sisters used to teach school children in India. She arrived in India in 1929, took her initial vows, choosing the name Teresa. She took her final vows in 1937 and served as a teacher in the Loreto convent school in eastern Calcutta for 20 years becoming headmistress in 1944.
Although Sister Teresa enjoyed teaching at the school, she was increasingly disturbed by the poverty surrounding her in Calcutta. In 1946, Teresa experienced what she later described as "the call within the call:" "I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.” She adopted Indian citizenship, received basic medical training, and then ventured out into the slums and started tending to the destitute and starving.
Legacy/Character: In 1949, she was joined in her effort by a group of young women and laid the foundations to create a new religious community helping the "poorest among the poor". Teresa received Vatican permission in 1950 to start the diocesan congregation that would become the Missionaries of Charity. By 1997 it had grown to more than 4,000 sisters running orphanages, AIDS hospices and charity centers in over 100 countries, and caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless, and victims of leprosy, floods, epidemics, and famine.
Other Interesting Fact: When Sister Teresa began her missionary work with the poor in 1948 she replaced her traditional Loreto habit with a simple white cotton sari decorated with a blue border. In 1952, Mother Teresa opened the first Home for the Dying in space made available by the city of Calcutta by converting an abandoned Hindu temple into a free hospice for the poor. She renamed it the Home of the Pure Heart providing medical attention and affording the dying an opportunity to die with dignity.
A characteristic quote/belief: When Mother Teresa received her call, she believed it was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith.
For further reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa