The love of God shows in service to men.”
This ideal was followed by Agnes Bojaxha, a Yugoslavian Jesuist nun who later came to be known as Mother Teresa. Born to Jesuist parents on August 27, 1910, she chose her vocation at the tender age of twelve. In 1928 she joined a convent and was sent to Dublin’s Loreto Abbey. Through the Bengal Mission she was sent to India. First to Darjeeling and then to Calcutta to teach there at the Loreto Covent.
Agenes kept craving to serve humanity and her position as a teacher sometimes left her feeling incomplete. One day she saw a miser4able sight- than of a woman lying on the roadside as maggots and rats ate at her body. She felt shattered at the woman’s condition and so she took her and tended her till the woman met a peaceful end. This incident had left a mark on Agnes’ psyche. On September 10, 1946, she found an answer to the quest for her ideal vocation- her True calling. She decided to devote her life to the service of outcast and destitutes in society.
Now known as Mother Teresa, in 1948 she opened a school for children in the slums of Calcutta. Then in 1950 with a strong will to serve the poor and her faith in God, she sought permission from the Vatican to establish a new order. She named it the Sisters of the Missionaries of chrity. The woman who joined the order were required to wear a white saree with a blue border, open sandals and a crucifix on the left shoulder.
Mother teresa told her nuns that the most terrible of diseases was to feel unwanted and unloved. The cure for this disease could be bought by love and kindness and not by riches.
Money was a constant need to function the various institutions run by the Missionaries of charity- the ‘Shishu Bhavans’ for sick and abandoned children,’ Nirmal Hriday’ centres for the old and dying and other associated charities funds they received. As the branches of the charity institutions spread world wide more and more people came to know of Mother Teresa’s work. Generous financial and material aids came from all over the world. In the city of Calcutta itself taxi drivers, rickshaw pullers, even beggers would ungrudgingly donate part of their earnings to the Missionaries of Charity. Land for building institutoons were granted freely from state Governments. Even when Mother Teresa had started with only Rs. 5 in her pocket, she had been looking for a place to start an institutuion where abandond leprosy patiens could find a loving and respectful end. She had found a vacant plot which was granted free to her by the Municipal Society’s Health Officer.
Mother Teres felt that it was the will of God that financial aid came just when they were in dire need of it. She once said, “ it comes, money is no problem. God gives through his people,” she added, “ it is more important to get people involved to make them realise that the sick, the old, the hungry are their brothers.” Thus spontaneous help came because people realised that Mother stood for off lands sent in their pocket money to her to help her in her cause. Once when the Sisters at Nirmal Hriday ran out of rice, that very morning a lady who had never visited them before brought them a bag of rice which held the exact quantity required.
Mother Teresa and her nuns served those who came to their doorstep with utmost devotion. They never shirked their responsibility when faced by a leprosy or tuberculosis patient left abandoned on a roadside. They took in the patient, bathed them, cared for them and above all gave them a lot of love and care. The words of kindness went a long way with handicapped children who were cared for in Shishu Bhavans.
The Missionaries of charity institutions in India are many and far apart. Mother Teresa took a personal interest in all her establishments adnd therefore travelled extensively. To enable an easy travel shewas granted a free train ticket to any part of India. Later the authorities granted her the right to free travel within India by plane. Her institutions are spread over 35 Indian cities and nearly 120 countries. The work of sisters of the Missionaries of charity has spread to countries such as Venezuela, Srilanka,Japan, Tanzania,italy and Australia.
Mother Teres worked to serve the poorest of the poor selflesy. She never thought of awards and rewards. She received innumerable awards and doctorates. In 1979 she received the Noble Peace Prize which she accepted on behalf of the poor. She felt she did not deserve the prize. Soon she was honoured with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest award followed shortly later in 1983 by the order of Merit by the British Government. She was among five prestigious recipients of an honorary citizenship of United States of America. Mother Teresa was also the recipient of the Padmashri awarded by the Indian Government and the only one who had received it despite not being born an Indian. Recently she had been granted the honorary citizenship of Albania, formerYugoslavia. She showed her selflessness again when she auctioned the limousine gifted to her by Pope and used the money for her charity mission.
Mother Teresa passed away leaving everyone even more orphaned than before. She died of a cardiac arrest on the evening of September 5, 1997 and left as unceremoniously and quietly as she had served for 50 years of her 87 years long life span. Thus a frail, soft spoken 5 ft tall, compassionate soul has left a vacuum that the kindness of all the world cannot fill.