We all have our own heroes, people we admire and respect, people who
made an impact on our life, that made us look at the world with a
different eye, Mother Teresa is definitely the one for me.
Although the world is full of good people, great humanitarians that
really care, people who donate billions of dollars, people who raise
their voice to make a difference, Mother Teresa stands out in the
crowd, she is unique.
"It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is
not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving."
She dedicated every day of her adult life caring for "The dying, the
crippled, the mentally ill, the unwanted, the unloved" and she loved
every minute of it because she was loving, she was cleaning, feeding
"Jesus in disguise."
Yes, she fed them, sheltered them, cleaned their wounds, but what is
more important is that she made them feel good, loved, and wanted. She
gave them back their dignity that poverty had taken away from them and
even if they died, they died with a smile on their face knowing that
somebody loves them and somebody cares for them.
"Speak tenderly to them. Let there be kindness in your face, in your
eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a
cheerful smile. Don't only give your care, but give your heart as
Agreeing or disagreeing with her on abortion, population control,
divorce, or how she raised the money should not shadow Mother Teresa's
life-long contribution and dedication to the poor and humanity.
To criticize someone, It's really easy... I suggest: stop criticizing
her and do it better than she did.
A. Mother Teresa's Life
Mother Teresa was born August 27, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, as Agnes
Gonxha Bojaxhiu from Albanian parents: Nikolle and Drandafille
Her father was a successful and well known contractor, her mother was a
housewife. She was the youngest of three children. Mother Teresa's
family was a devoted catholic family. They prayed every evening and
went to church almost everyday. It was her family's generosity, care
for the poor and the less fortunate that made a great impact on young
Mother Teresa's life.
By the age of 12, she had made up her mind, she realized that her
vocation was aiding the poor. At age 18, she then decided to become a
nun, and traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to join the Sisters of Loretto.
After about a year in Ireland, she then leaves to join the Loretto
convent in the northeast Indian city of Darjeeling, where she spends 17
years teaching and being principal of St. Mary's high school in
In 1946, Mother Teresa's life is changed forever. While riding a train
to the mountain town of Darjeeling to recover from suspected
tuberculosis, on the 10th of September, she said that she received a
calling from God "to serve among the poorest of the poor." Less then a
year later she gets permission from the Catholic Church to leave her
order and move to Calcutta's slums to set up her first school.
"Sister Agnes" who was a former student, becomes Mother Teresa's first
follower. Others soon follow, and papal approval arrives to create a
religious order of nuns called the Missionaries of Charity. The
foundation is celebrated on Oct. 7 1950, the feast of the Holy Rosary.
To identify herself with the poor she chooses to wear a plain white
sari with a blue border and a simple cross pinned to her left shoulder.
Their mission is as she would say when she accepted the Nobel peace
prize: "to care for 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 the
society and are shunned by everyone."
With the help of Calcutta officials she converts a portion of the
abandoned temple to Kali, the Hindu goddess of death and destruction
into Kalighat Home for the Dying, where even the poorest people would
die with dignity. Soon after she opens up Nirmal Hriday ("Pure Heart"),
a home for the dying, and Shanti Nagar (Town of Peace), a leper colony
and later her first orphanage.
Mother Teresa and the sisters continued opening houses all over India
caring for the poor, washing their wounds, soothing their sores, making
them feel wanted. But her order's work spread across the world after
1965, when Pope Paul VI granted Mother Teresa's request to globally
expand her order.
Whether it was in Ethiopia feeding the hungry, the ghettos of South
Africa or it was her native country Albania when the communist regime
collapsed, Calcutta's Mother Teresa "the living saint" was there.
In 1982, at the height of the siege in Beirut she convinced the parties
to stop the war so she could rescue 37 sick children trapped inside.
Mother Teresa became a symbol of untiring commitment to he poor and
suffering. She was probably the most admired women of all time,
receiving so many rewards and prices for her outstanding work and she
used her reputation traveling all over the world raising money and
support for her causes.
In 1962, she received the Pandma Shri prize for "extraordinary
services." In 1971, Pope Paul VI honors Mother Teresa by awarding her
the first Pope John XXXIII Peace Prize. In 1972, the Government of
India presents her with the Jawaharlel Nehru Award for International
Understanding. In 1979, She wins the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1985,
President Reagan presents her the Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S.
civilian award. In 1996, she becomes only the fourth person in the
world to receive an honorary U.S. citizenship.
When she received the Nobel Prize she wore the same trademark, her $1
sari and convinced the committee to cancel a dinner in her honor, using
the money instead to "feed 400 poor children for a year in India."
Today Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity now has 570 missions all
over the world, comprising of 4,000 nuns, a brotherhood of 300 members
and over 100,000 volunteers operating homes for AIDS, leprosy and
tuberculosis patients; soup kitchens, children's and family counseling
programs, orphanages, and schools.
B. Mother Teresa's Health
Mother Teresa's health was deteriorating, part from her age, part from
the conditions where she was living, and part of it was from her trips
all over the world, opening new houses and raising money for the poor.
In 1985, she suffered from a heart attack while in Rome visiting Pope
John Paul II. In 1989, she suffered another almost fatal heart attack
and had a pacemaker implanted. In 1991, she suffers pneumonia in
Tijuana, Mexico which leads to heart failure. In 1996, Mother Teresa
suffers malaria, chest infection and undergoes heart surgery. On March
13th 1997, Sister Nirmala is selected as Mother Teresa's successor.
Finally on September 5th 1997, The world learns that Mother Teresa
"Angel of Mercy" had died at the age of 87.
C. The World Mourns
Queens and First Ladies, Presidents and Prime Ministers, former Heads
of State, Ministers and envoys from over 23 countries, gathered
together on September 13, 1997 to pay their final respects to Mother
Teresa, the Albanian nun who in 1996 topped the Gallup Poll as the most
admired women in the world that devoted her life serving the poorest of
the poor and urged the world not to forget of those in need.
They all represented different countries, they all had different views
on divorce, abortion, religion, and they were all touched by the
devotion of Mother Teresa who like President Clinton said, "has served
the poor, the suffering and the dying, and in so doing she served as an
inspiration and a challenge to all the rest of us"
Among most notable dignitaries were Hillary Clinton, representing the
US, Bernadette Chirac for France, Italy's Prime Minister, Oscar Luigi
Scalfaro, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister Peter Jennings, Albania's
President Rexhep Mejdani, Ghana's President Jerry Rawlings, the Duchess
of Kent represented the British Monarchy, Queen Noor of Jordan, Queen
Sofia of Spain, and Queen Fabiola of Belgium.
The funeral was held at the Netaji Indoor Stadium which holds 15,000
seats. At the insistence of the Missionaries of Charity, about half of
those seats were reserved for those unfortunate people she served
during her life. The State Funeral services usually reserved for heads
of states were led by cardinal A. Sodano, the Vatican's secretary of
state and the Pope's representative.
Even with Mother Teresa gone, her sisters at the Missionaries of
Charities are still caring for the poor and sick with the same love and
devotion as Mother Teresa did. Any donation will help them to reach
more and more of the less fortunate.
Now that your familiar with one of the most important human beings to
ever live maybe we can use some of the ideas, thoughts, and behavior
and put it in our daily lives and make this world to be what Mother
Teresa was striving for.
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