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Her early years

Mother Teresa made a considerable imprint with her actions and the same remains in action to date. She stated that by birth, she is an Albanian possessing an Indian citizenship and by faith being a catholic nun, she belongs to the Christ. However, of her heart she stated that she belongs entirely to the world and aims to do as much as she can with the time she has on earth. With this belief she started her missionary work which later on went to become one of the most notable charities in the world. Today, her name is widespread and people know her as the individual who dedicated her life towards serving and helping the poor.

She was born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, a city at a historical crossroads in the Balkans, to a holy family of believers (Greene, 2004). The youngest of Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu's children, she was baptised Gonxha Agnes and had her First Communion at the age of five and a half (Greene, 2004). Kolodiejchuk & Teresa (2012) draft that the day she received her First Holy Communion was the day she began her devotion to the salvation of souls. Her father unexpectedly passed away at the age of eight, and as a result of this, the family's financial situation became dire. The entire responsibility of the family fell upon the shoulders of her mother and for many years, Drane disciplined her children, but this had a profound effect on her daughter's character as well as her vocational attributes. Sacred Heart Parish, where Gonxha was very active, played an important role in Gonxha's development as a Catholic believer. There she learned the values of being a Catholic and how there were people in the world who were less fortunate than her. She also understood that she had a upper hand after learning about the essential values and knew that she could use them to the best of her ability to aid the one’s in dire need of help. Therefore, she decided from a very tender age that with her ability to do better and teachings as well as values, she would dedicate her life in the service of the poor and the needy.

At the tender age of 18, Gonxha left her family and moved to Ireland to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also known as the Loreto Sisters (Greene, 2004). There she was bestowed with the name, Teresa and St. Thérèse of Lisieux was the inspiration for Sister Mary Teresa's name. It was December when she set out for India, and in the month of January she landed in Calcutta. Back then neither the population there nor Sister Teresa were aware of the profound impact that particular location would have on both the parties.

Her step towards charitable deeds

In May 1931, Sister Teresa was sent to the Loreto convent in Calcutta to teach at St. Mary's School for girls. For "all eternity," on the 24th of May, 1937, Sister Teresa made her Final Profession of Vows, proclaiming herself to be the bride of Jesus (Teresa, 2007). There she stated that she would devote her entire life to the service of Jesus and walk in his footsteps as he too dedicated his life towards the well-being of the multitude and gave it up in the same pursuit. As a result of this, she was dubbed Mother Teresa. When she was named principal of St. Mary's in 1944, she continued to teach there.

Twenty years at Loreto were filled with wonderful joy for Mother Teresa as a woman of great devotion and great affection for her sisters and students. Not only did she have a tendency for hard work and a natural knack for organizing but she also had a heart of gold and an incredible capacity for compassion and altruism. During a train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling on in the year 1946 Mother Teresa received her "inspiration," her “call within a call” (Zaleski, 2003). Jesus' hunger for love and souls seized her heart that day, the extreme need to be the hand of Jesus on earth is what drive her cause. Zaleski (2003) also stated it to be her dark night. Throughout the next weeks and months, Jesus used inner locutions and visions to communicate to her his deepest desire for "victims of love" who would "radiate His love on souls." In his appeal, he said, "Be My light," and she nodded (Kolodiejchuk & Teresa, 2012). “There is no way I can make it there on my own. Anguish at the abandonment of the poor, regret over their ignorance of Him and a longing for their affection were conveyed by him in this passage” (Kolodiejchuk & Teresa, 2012).

This inner calling pushed Mother Teresa to form the Missionaries of Charity, a Catholic order dedicated to aiding the world's poorest people. After over two years of deliberation and trial, Mother Teresa was given the green light to proceed. On August 17, 1948, she walked through the doors of her beloved Loreto convent wearing a white sari with a blue border for the first time. Before her return, Mother Teresa spent some time studying with the Medical Mission Sisters and staying with the Little Sisters of the Poor in Patna for a few weeks. On December 21, she made her first trip to the slums. In addition, she cared for an old guy who was unwell on the road and a dying TB patient (Collopy, 2016). During that period of time, such an act spoke volumes as due to the lack of proper medical facilities and awareness measures many shunned people battling TB and most of them did not receive appropriate care to battle the disease and therefore succumbed to tuberculosis. She also visited homes and cleaned children's wounds.

The call

Every day, she stepped out with her rosary in hand to serve Jesus in "the unwanted, the unloved, and the uncared for," beginning her day in Eucharistic communion with Jesus (Collopy, 2016). After a long period of time, her former students began to return to her classroom. The Archdiocese of Calcutta officially established the Missionaries of Charity on October 7, 1950. In the early 1960s, Mother Teresa began sending Sisters to various parts of India. Pope Paul VI's Decree of Praise for the Congregation in February 1965 prompted her to establish a home in the country of Venezuela. After Rome and Tanzania, the foundations were built on every continent. It was at this time that she opened mansions in communist countries, including the former Soviet Union (now Russia) as well as Albania and Cuba. As a way to further serve the poor's physical and spiritual needs, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963, the Contemplative Sisters and Brothers in 1976, the Missionaries of Charity Fathers in 1984. Nevertheless, she had an impact on those who were not religious in any way. Mother Teresa co-founded two organisations: The Mother Teresa Co-Workers and the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, which brought together people from all religious backgrounds and nations to practise her apostolic values of prayer, simplicity, and self-giving compassion. The Lay Missionaries of Charity were inspired by the same spirit. It was in 1981 that Mother Teresa created the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests in response to the petitions of some priests who wanted to follow in her charism and ethos (Greene, 2004).

For many years, the world's focus was on Mother Teresa and the work she had started. It began with the Indian Padmashri award in 1962, culminating in the Nobel Peace Prize she received in 1979, as the media became even more interested in her deeds (Chidiac, 2016). As a result, she received both honours and recognition "in service to God and the poor." Throughout her life and work, Mother Teresa demonstrated the joy of loving, the grandeur and dignity of every human being, the significance of little acts committed with love, and the wonderful worth of friendship with God.

However, this remarkable woman had a heroic side that came to light only after her death. Despite the fact that she kept her inner life a secret from everyone, even those closest to her. The one’s closest to her stated that even with the cheer and the joy she spread in the name of Jesus, as an entity, she was burdened by the feeling of darkness and alienation. (Slavicek, 2007) also stated that due to the same attribute of hers, she was able to develop a connection with Jesus that enabled her to help the poor on such a multitude. With her difficult childhood, her understanding of the poverty that blanketed the population of the world along with her undying love and devotion towards Jesus provided her the push that was needed to ensure that she did everything in her power to aid others.

Mother Teresa continued to serve the poor and the Church as she reached the end of her life, despite her declining health. Mother Teresa's Sisters had over 4,000 members in 1997 and had created 610 humanitarian organisations in 123 countries throughout the globe (Callopy, 2016). In March 1997, she blessed her successor as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity before returning to the United States. She travelled to Calcutta after her last encounter with Pope John Paul II, where she spent her final weeks welcoming guests and imparting wisdom to her Sisters (Callopy, 2016).

On September 5, Mother Teresa's time on this planet came to an end. She was buried in the Missionaries of Charity's Mother House after receiving a state burial from the Indian government(Slavicek, 2007). People from all walks of life, regardless of religious affiliation or economic status, began making pilgrimages and offering prayers at her tomb almost immediately. Unwavering faith, hope, and generosity are the hallmarks of Mother Teresa's legacy. It was because she agreed with Jesus' call to "Come be My light" that she was transformed into the first-ever Missionary of Charity (Kolodiejchuk & Teresa, 2012). She became known as a "mother to the poor," serving as a global symbol of love and compassion (Chidiac, 2016). In less than two years after her death, Pope John Paul II permitted the beginning of Mother Teresa's Canonization Cause, noting her international reputation for virtue and the purported favors (Chidiac, 2016).

References

Chidiac, A. (2016). The spirituality of Mother Teresa. Australasian Catholic Record, The, 93(4), 469-477.

Collopy, M. (2016). Works of Love are Works of Peace: Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Missionaries of Charity. Ignatius Press.

Greene, M. (2004). Mother Teresa: a biography.

Kolodiejchuk, B., & Teresa, M. (2012). Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Revealing Private Writings of the Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Random House.

Slavicek, L. C. (2007). Mother Teresa: Caring for the world's poor. Infobase Publishing.

Teresa, M. (2007). Meditations from a simple path. Ballantine Books.

Zaleski, C. (2003). The dark night of Mother Teresa. First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, 24-28.

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