Home' The Southern Cross : September 2016 Contents Mother Teresa was born Anjezë (Agnes) Gonxhe
Bojaxhiu on August 26 1910 in a Kosovar Albanian
family. She was born in Skopje, which at the time was
part of the Ottoman Empire and is now the capital of the
Republic of Macedonia. She was baptised on August
27, and she considered this her birthday.
From a young age she was fascinated by the stories
of missionaries and by the time she turned 12 had
decided to adopt a religious life. Her final resolution was
taken on August 15 1928 while praying at the shrine of
the Black Madonna of Vitina-Letnice, where she often
visited for pilgrimage.
In 1928, Agnes left home and joined the Sisters of
Loreto at Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland, and
learned to speak English, which was the language used
by the Sisters to teach schoolchildren in India.
She travelled to India in 1929 and began her novitiate
in Darjeeling, close to the Himalayan Mountains. Here
she learnt Bengali and taught at St Teresa’s school. She
took her religious vows on May 24 1931 and chose to
be named after Therese de Lisieux, the patron saint of
On May 14 1937, Mother Teresa took her solemn vows
while serving as a teacher at the Loreto Convent School
in Entally, Calcutta, where she served for almost 20
years. In 1944 she was appointed headmistress.
On September 10 1946 during a train ride from Calcutta
to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, Mother Teresa
received her “inspiration”; her “call within a call”.
On that day she was called to establish a religious
community, dedicated to the service of the poorest of
the poor. So on August 17 1948, she dressed for the
first time in a white, blue-bordered sari and passed
through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to
enter the world of the poor.
First she established an open-air school for homeless
children and was soon joined by voluntary helpers,
receiving financial support from church organisations
and the municipal authorities. On October 7 1950,
Mother Teresa received permission from the Vatican to
start her own order, to be known as the Missionaries of
Charity. The primary task of the order was to take care
of those people who nobody else was prepared to look
Mother Teresa visited families, washed the sores of
children, cared for the elderly lying sick on the road and
nursed those dying of hunger and TB. She started each
day in communion with Jesus in the Eucharist and then
went out, rosary in her hand, to find and serve Him in
“the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for”.
By the early 1960s, Mother Teresa began to send her
Sisters to other parts of India. She opened a house
in Venezuela, followed by foundations in Rome and
Tanzania and, eventually, on every continent. Starting in
1980 and continuing through the 1990s, Mother Teresa
established houses in almost all of the communist
countries, including the former Soviet Union, Albania
Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity
Brothers in 1963, in 1976 the contemplative branch of
the Sisters, in 1979 the Contemplative Brothers, and in
1984 the Missionaries of Charity Fathers. She formed
the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and the Sick and
Throughout her life Mother Teresa received a number of
awards and distinctions, most notably the Nobel Peace
Prize in 1979.
There are 14 Missionaries of Charity houses in Australia,
two in New Zealand, one in East Timor and one soon to
be opened in Indonesia.
Mother Teresa visited Australia 10 times during her
busy life and her work in instigating the Oceania region
of the Missionaries of Charity resulted in the Australian
Government awarding her an Honorary Companion of
the Order of Australia on Australia Day, 1982.
On March 13 1997, Mother Teresa stepped down as the
head of Missionaries of Charity and on September 5
that year she died, just nine days after her 87th birthday.
She was given the honour of a state funeral by the
Indian Government and her body was buried in the
Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Her tomb
quickly became a place of pilgrimage and prayer for
people of all faiths, rich and poor alike.
Mother Teresa’s beatification was held at St Peter’s
Square, Rome, on October 19 2003 and her
canonisation for sainthood took place at the same place
on September 4 this year.
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eresource: Mother Teresa
“Give yourself fully to God.
He will use you to accomplish great things on the
condition that you believe much more in
His love than in your own weakness.”
Masses, prayer vigils, exhibitions and even a musical
were some of the many events taking place in Rome
to celebrate the canonisation of Blessed Mother Teresa
in St Peter’s Square in Rome on September 4.
The entire week is being devoted to celebrating
the Albanian religious sister who became known
as the ‘angel of the slums’.
Honouring ‘angel of the slums’
Help us to spread your fragrance
everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess our whole being
so utterly that our lives may only be a
radiance of yours.
Shine through us and be so in us that
every soul we come in contact with may
feel your presence in our soul.
Let them look up and see no longer us,
but only Jesus.
Stay with us and then we shall begin to
shine as you shine, so to shine as to be
light to others.
The light, O Jesus, will be all from you.
None of it will be ours.
It will be you shining on others through
Let us thus praise you in the way you
love best by shining on those around
Let us preach you without preaching,
not by words, but by our example; by
the catching force – the sympathetic
influence of what we do, the evident
fullness of the love our hearts bear to
69 years of service
4500 Missionaries of Charity
124 awards earned
1979 awarded Nobel Peace Prize
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