Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on 26th August 1910 at Skopje in Macedonia. Her family belonged to the Albanian community. They were Catholics though the majority of the Albanians were Muslims. Her father, Kole, was a well traveled businessman. Her mother, Drana, was ahousewife. They had three children of which Agnes was theyoungest. mother teresaUnexpectedly when Agnes was nine her father died.
Drana had to look after the family. She started to earn her living by sewing wedding dresses and doing embroidery. Inspite of these hardships theirs was a religious family. They prayed every evening, went to church every day, prayed the rosary in May and assisted the service of the Holy Virgin. An annual pilgrimage to the place of Letnice, where Our Lady was venerated was a custom of the family.
This scriptural upbringing had a deep impact on Agnes. As a little girl she began to understand the quintessential meaning of the preachings of the gospel and this early in life she tried to put to practice what was preached. Her mother’s influence in moulding the little Agnes into a deeply caring human being cannot be undermined. Apart from taking care of her three children Drana much moved by the misery of an alcoholic woman in the neighborhood started to take care of her. She went to wash and feed her twice a day. She began to take care of a widow and her six children. When Drana could not go, Agnes went to do this charitable work. On the death of the widow the children were raised in the Bojaxhiu household as a part of it. Thus it was this exemplary attitude of her mother that instilled in Agnes the love and concern for others. This was to become so much a part of her character that leaving all other pleasures in later life. She was to completely devote herself to the well fare of the poor and the needy.
It was at the age of twelve that for the first time she felt a keen desire to spend her life doing God’s work. But she was not sure. She prayed a lot and talked about it to her mother and sister. She even confided her earnest desire to a father at the Legion of Mary whom she had helped with learning a language. “How can I be sure?" she said. He answered, “Through your JOY. If you feel really happy by the idea that God might call you to serve Him and your neighbor, then this is the evidence that you have a call . . . the deep inner joy that you feel is your compass that indicates your direction in life”.
Agnes was 18 when the decision was made. Over the last two years she had assisted several religious retreats in Letnice and it was clear to her that she would be a missionary in India. She then decided to join the Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto, who were very active in India. On 25th September 1928 she left for Dublin where the motherhouse of the Loreto Sisters is. Here Agnes learnt to speak English and was trained in religious life. On receiving the Sister's Habit she chose to call herself Sister Teresa in memory of the little Teresa of Lisieux, where they had stopped on the way to London. On 1st December 1928 Sister Teresa left for India to begin a new life.
After taking her vows at Darjeeling Sister Teresa dedicated herself to the care of the sick and the needy in a small hospital. Later she trained as a teacher and became the headmistress of a secondary school in the center of Calcutta. Not only did Sister Teresa teach the students History and Geography but she also took time to get to know the children personally and their families. She was loved by everyone who came in contact with her. So overwhelming was her concern for the children that they began calling her “Ma” Close to this institute were the slums of Calcutta. The miserable appalling conditions in which the poor lived wrenched her heart. Sister Teresa could turn away from such misery. Together with some girls she would visit the slums and try to help out the poor in any way that she could. But her contribution seemed insignificant to her in the face of such utter misery. During these years the Belgian Wallon Jesuit, Father Henry was a great source of inspiration to her.
         To clear her tormented soul and to look for direction Sister Teresa went for a retreat to Darjeeling on the 10th of September 1937. Many years later Mother Teresa called it, “The most important journey of my life”. It was here that she really heard God's voice. His message was clear: she had to leave the convent to help the poorest of the poor and to live with them. "It was an order, a duty, an absolute certainty. I knew what to do but I did not know how. 'The 10th of September is called “Inspiration Day.'
To leave the convent was not an easy matter. It had to be considered carefully. The matter was taken up by the Archbishop of Calcutta, mgr. Perrier. The decision had to carefully analysed. The political situation at the time was precarious. India was about to gain independence. Questions like would a European be accepted after India became free? Would Rome approve of this decision? Sister Teresa was asked to wait for at least a year before joining the Daughters of Saint Anna, sisters wearing a dark blue sari and working among the poor. Sister Teresa was disappointed. She did not simply want to work among the poor but wanted to live with the poor and the wait seemed endless. It was in August 1948 that she received the permission to leave the Loretto community by the Pope in Rome and the Mother General at Dublin.
Mother Teresa was 38 when she took the vows-of poverty, purity and obedience. Giving up the Habit of the Sisters of Loretto, she took to wearing a cheap white sari with a blue border. Sister Teresa then went to Patna to train herself as a nurse. She realized the importance of such training in her venture to help the poor who lived in dirt and unhealthy habitation. On completing her training Sister Teresa came back to Calcutta and began her life’s vocation: to live among the poor and to help them. Soon she became a common figure in the slums and the streets of Calcutta. Her white sari, the fluent way in which she spoke Bengali and her unrelenting effort to improve the poor hygiene and literacy of the slums soon made her an endearing figure. Inspired by this lone European lady’s dedication, one day a young Bengali girl who was a former student of Sister Teresa came to ask her permission to join her in this noble venture. The girl was from a well off family and Sister Teresa after explaining the hardships in this life of sacrifice asked the girl to consider her decision for a year and then to come back to her if she still wanted to be a part of the work. On 19th March 1949 the girl came back in all simplicity and earnest faith. She was the first to join Sister Teresa in her mission to improve the lot of the unwanted and the poor. Rising early at dawn the Sisters worked with faith and inner spiritual strength that comes with sincere prayer, as their only tool. At this time Sister Teresa so sure of the rightness of her vocation took Indian nationality. Her will to help the needy became stronger with each passing day.
With continuous work their community grew. Soon Sister Teresa began thinking seriously about starting a congregation. This was approved on 7th October 1950. Thus the “Constitutions of the Society of the Missionaries of Charity,” came into being. It was the day of the feast of the Holy Rosary. After five years the congregation became papal as more and more Sisters joined the congregation and devoted their lives to the sick and the poorest of the poor.
At Calcutta owing to this growing numbers the Missionaries of Charity needed a residence. A Muslim leaving for Pakistan sold his house for a cheap price and this was to become the famous Mother’s House at 54 A, Lower Circular Road, Calcutta. While the society grew the Mother's work kept increasing. Her work among the lepers of India, apart from being laudable in its own right got her international recognition. She received the Noble Prize for Peace in 1979. On receiving the honour Mother Teresa said, “I choose the poverty of our poor people. But | am grateful to receive (the Nobel) in the name of the hungry, the naked, the homeless; the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared-for throughout society, people that have become a burden to society and are shunned by everyone."
On 5th September, 1997 Mother Teresa died of a heart attack at 9.30 in the evening. It was an irreplaceable loss felt worldwide. Mother Teresa was buried on 13th September 1997, exactly 7 months after electing Sister Nirmala as her successor. The vacuum left by this Nirmal Hirday (Pure Heart) will never cease, Mother Teresa will live on in the memory of all those who were in her life time graced by her tender touch that made all the difference.

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