Mother Teresa was a member of the Catholic order of the Sisters of Loreto (1920-1948) and founded the Missionaries of Charity (1950-1997). She was Albanian and born in Skopje, in the Ottoman Empire, which is now the Republic of Macedonia. Her name was Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu.
Anjeze left home at 18 to become a missionary with the Sisters of Loreto. She went to the Loreto Abbey in Ireland to learn English, which was the language the sisters used to teach the children in India. Her name was anglicized to Agnes.
In 1937, Sister Mary Teresa went to Calcutta and took her vows. She had been teaching in India for nearly 20 years when she experienced what she called “a call within a call.” Sister had always been troubled by the abject poverty among the poor of Calcutta. So, she left the Loreto Abbey, alone, to try to help them. She never returned to the comforts of the convent.
Sister was eventually joined by 13 women and received permission from the Vatican to establish the Missionaries of Charity. She adopted the simple, white, sari with the blue stripe as the new order’s habit, while she and her sisters ministered to the poor. When Mother Teresa died in Calcutta in 1997 her religious order had grown to include 4,500 sisters, who work with the poor in 133 countries.
Here is a woman who knew what her earthly calling from God, and as a result, never wavered in her efforts to help the poor. Mother Teresa devoted herself to the poor, relinquishing her personal life, for the honor and glory of God. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in October 2003. This is the third step towards becoming canonized as a saint and is why Mother Teresa is now referred to as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. On September 4, 2016, Mother Teresa was declared a saint by Pope Francis. Although she is now officially Saint Teresa, and the city of Calcutta, India (in 2001 its name was changed to Kolkata to match the Bengali pronunciation) most will continue to refer to her as Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa’s courage is legendary and her love of the poor was profound. Here is an admirable woman, who instilled hope and joy where none existed. America is in dire need of more self-sacrificing women like Blessed Teresa. God bless her and the ongoing efforts of her Missionaries of Charity.