LIFE SKETCH OF ST TERESA OF CALCUTTA

M Teresa Logo

(Note:  On the occasion of the Canonisation of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, CCV's Isaac Gomes gives below a self-explanatory chronological graph of the life of the Isaac GomesMother.  The logo appearing on the cover is the official logo approved by the Missionaries of Charity).   

26 August 1910 – Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (later known as Mother Teresa) is born in Skopje, the current capital of the Republic of Macedonia.  Her parents, Nikola and Dranafile Bojaxhiu, were of Albanian descent.

4th February 1918 – Her father suddenly fell ill and died. While the cause of his death remains unknown, many have speculated that political enemies poisoned him. In the aftermath of her father's death, Agnes became extraordinarily close to her mother, a pious and compassionate woman who instilled in her daughter a deep commitment to charity.

20th February1922 – Teresa wants a religious life

September 1928 Agnes leaves her home for the Loreto Convent in Rathfarnham near Dublin, Ireland. The Sisters of Loreto have a missionary programme in India.

January 6th 1929 – Reaches India and arrives in Calcutta. Agnes goes to Darjeeling to finish her studies and testing to become a nun.

24st May 1931 – Agnes makes her First Profession of Vows and turns into Sister Mary Teresa after Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries, but because one nun in the convent had already chosen that name, Agnes opted for the Spanish spelling of Teresa.

Afterward she was sent to Calcutta, where she was assigned to teach at Saint Mary's High School for Girls, a school run by the Loreto Sisters and dedicated to teaching girls from the city's poorest Bengali families. Sister Teresa learned to speak both Bengali and Hindi fluently as she taught geography and history and dedicated herself to alleviating the girls' poverty through education.

May 24, 1937 – She took her Final Profession of Vows to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience. As was the custom for Loreto nuns, she took on the title of "Mother" upon making her final vows and thus became known as Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa continued to teach at Saint Mary's, and in 1944 she became the school's principal. Through her kindness, generosity and unfailing commitment to her students' education, she sought to lead them to a life of devotion to Christ. "Give me the strength to be ever the light of their lives, so that I may lead them at last to you," she wrote in prayer.

10th September 1946 – Call within the Call

On September 10, 1946, Teresa experienced what she later described as "the call within the call" while traveling by train to the Loreto convent in Darjeeling for her annual retreat.  She said Christ spoke to her and told her to abandon teaching to work in the slums of Calcutta aiding the city's poorest and sickest people.  "I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith."

1948 – Mother Teresa wrote a letter to the church so  she could leave the convent and do Gods work. In April 1948 she got her request and it was approved by the Pope Pius XII. In December Mother Teresa started a school for the poor.

She began her missionary work with the poor in 1948, replacing her traditional Loreto habit with a simple white cotton sari decorated with a blue border and then venturing out into the slums." Initially she started a school in Motijhil; soon she started tending to the needs of the destitute and starving. Her efforts quickly caught the attention of Indian officials, including the Prime Minister, who expressed his appreciation.  Teresa wrote in her diary that her first year was fraught with difficulties.

1948: Mother Teresa starts her Mission from 14, Creek Lane, Kolkata-14, the house of Michael Gomes.

Mother Teresa starts her Congregation with 13 members, at 14 Creek Lane, Kolkata 700014, the house of Michael Gomes.  She established a chapel in the big hall and four surrounding rooms given to her, on the top of the three-storied building. Michael Gomes and his brother Alfred became very close to the Mother, who would consult them on a lot of matters. "The initial days were full of struggle. Mother used to take the two brothers with her as she went to every chemist shop in the locality begging for medicines for the poor sick people in the slums. She did not have money. So often she went without food. But she withstood such hardship smilingly," Margaret daughter of Alfred Gomes, told IANS.  

However, as more sisters joined, Mother Teresa had to look out for a bigger place to house her congregation. In 1953, she moved to 54A, AJC Bose Road (Lower Circular Road).  It is now called Mother House, the Order's global headquarters.  The Mother never forgot the support she got from the Gomes family in her difficult times.  In his will, Michael is said to have donated the second floor to the Missionaries of Charity.

 7 Oct 1950 – The Missionaries of Charity is approved – Teresa begins serving the Destitute 

Teresa received Vatican permission on October 7, 1950 to start the a congregation that would become the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the poor. Its mission was to care for, in her own words, "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." It began as a small order with 13 members in Calcutta – most of them former teachers or pupils from St. Mary's School. She chose to wear a white Indian Sari, with blue trimmings – out of respect for the traditional Indian dress. For many years, Mother Teresa and a small band of fellow nuns survived on minimal income and food, often having to beg for funds. But, slowly her efforts with the poorest were noted and appreciated by the local community and Indian politicians.

As per MC Assistant General Sister Lysa, in August 2016, Missionaries of Charity has 5,100 nuns in more than 139 countries. They run hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children's and family counselling programmes; orphanages; and schools. Members must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, as well as a fourth vow, to give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor".

Despite repeated efforts, however, Mother Teresa was never able to open a foundation in China.

April 23rd, 1952, Home for the Dying Destitute

In 1952 Mother Teresa opened the first Home for the Dying Destitute in the space made available by the City of Calcutta. With the help of Indian officials she converted an abandoned Hindu temple into the Kalighat Home for the Dying, a free hospice for the poor. She renamed it Nirmal Hriday Kalighat, (the Home of the Pure Heart), 251 Kalighat Road, Kolkata 700026. Those brought to the home received medical attention and were afforded the opportunity to die with dignity, according to the rituals of their faith.

April 19th, 1955, Children's Home of Immaculate Heart

Mother Teresa soon opened a home for those suffering from Hansen's disease, commonly known as leprosy, and called the hospice Shanti Nagar (City of Peace). The Missionaries of Charity also established several leprosy outreach clinics throughout Calcutta, providing medication, bandages and food. As the Missionaries of Charity took in increasing numbers of lost children, Mother Teresa felt the need to create a home for them. In 1955 she opened the Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, a refuge for homeless children and orphans.

1957 – Mother Teresa works with the lepers of Calcutta.

May 2nd, 1962, Magsaysay Award for International Understanding

In 1962 Teresa received the Philippines-based Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding, given for work in South or East Asia. The citation said that "the Board of Trustees recognizes her merciful cognizance of the abject poor of a foreign land, in whose service she has led a new congregation".

 1963 – The Missionaries of Charity Brothers is established.

May 3rd, 1965, Mother Opens her First Home Outside of India

In February 1965, Pope Paul VI bestowed the Decree of Praise upon the Missionaries of Charity, which prompted Mother Teresa to begin expanding internationally. The Order soon began to attract both recruits and charitable donations, and by the 1960s had opened hospices, orphanages, and leper houses all over India. Mother Teresa then expanded the order throughout the globe. Its first house outside India opened in Venezuela in 1965 with five sisters. Others followed in Rome, Tanzania, and Austria in 1968; during the 1970s the order opened houses and foundations in dozens of countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the United States.

May 19th, 1969, Something Beautiful for God – Documentary

By the early 1970s, Mother Teresa had become an international celebrity. Her fame can be in large part attributed to the 1969 documentary Something Beautiful for God, which was filmed by Malcolm Muggeridge and his 1971 book of the same title. Muggeridge was undergoing a spiritual journey of his own at the time. During the filming of the documentary, footage taken in poor lighting conditions, particularly the Home for the Dying, was thought unlikely to be of usable quality by the crew.

March 23rd, 1971, Pope John XXIII Peace Prize

Around this time, the Catholic world began to honour Mother Teresa publicly. In 1971, Paul VI awarded her the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize, commending her for her work with the poor, display of Christian charity and efforts for peace. Teresa received the Pacem in Terris Award in 1976.

Feb 20th, 1979, Nobel Peace Prize

On February 20, 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, "for work undeMother-Teresa-receiving-the-Nobel-Peace-Prize-in-1979-6rtaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace." She refused the conventional ceremonial banquet given to laureates, and asked that the $192,000 funds be given to the poor in India, stating that earthly rewards were important only if they helped her help the world's needy. When Mother Teresa received the prize, she was asked, "What can we do to promote world peace?" She answered "Go home and love your family."

Building on this theme in her Nobel Lecture, she said: "Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society—that poverty is so hurting and so much, and I find that very difficult." She also singled out abortion as "the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child – what is left for me to kill you and you kill me – there is nothing between."

February 20th, 1980, Bharat Ratna for Teresa

She continued to receive major Indian rewards in successive decades including, in 1972, the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding. In 1980 Mother Teresa received India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna

May 31st, 1982, Siege of Beirut

In the summer of 1982, she secretly went to Beirut, Lebanon, where she crossed between Christian East Beirut and Muslim West Beirut to aid children of both faiths. At the height of the Siege of Beirut, Mother Teresa rescued 37 children trapped in a front line hospital by brokering a temporary cease-fire between the Israeli army and Palestinian guerrillas. Accompanied by Red Cross workers, she travelled through the war zone to the devastated hospital to evacuate the young patients. When the walls of Eastern Europe collapsed, she expanded her efforts to Communist countries that had previously rejected the Missionaries of Charity

1983 –   Mother Teresa suffers a heart attack in Rome.

1985 Ronald Reagan and Nancy award Mother Teresa

 

1985President Ronald Reagan presents Mother Teresa with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony as Nancy Reagan looks on

 

 

 

1989 – Mother Teresa gets a heart attack.  Doctors implant peacemaker.

February 20, 1991, Battling with pneumonia

In 1991, after a battle with pneumonia while in Mexico, she suffered further heart problems. She offered to resign her position as head of the Missionaries of Charity. But the nuns of the order, in a secret ballot, voted for her to stay. Mother Teresa agreed to continue her work as head of the order.

Feb 20th, 1994, Golden Honour of the Nation

Mother Teresa's Albanian homeland granted her the Golden Honour of the Nation in 1994. Her acceptance of this and another honour granted by the Haitian government proved controversial. Mother Teresa attracted criticism, particularly from the left, for implicitly giving support to the Duvaliers, to corrupt businessmen such as Charles Keating and Robert Maxwell, and to politicians on the right of Western politics, such as U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and United States President Ronald Reagan.

November 16, 1996 : Mother Teresa gets Honorary Citizenship of the United States.

November 20th, 1996, Health Problems

In April 1996, Mother Teresa fell and broke her collar bone. In August she suffered from malaria and failure of the left heart ventricle. She had heart surgery, but it was clear that her health was declining.

September 5th, 1997, Mother Teresa passes Away

On March 13, 1997, she stepped down as the head of Missionaries of Charity and died on September 5, 1997, nine days after her 87th birthday. Mother Teresa was buried on the ground floor of the Mother House on 13th September, 1997, and her tomb has become a place of pilgrimage for quiet meditation, a place of profound silence and peace, despite the persistent noise of passing Calcutta traffic. Mother's tomb is a reflection of her life; that prayer and contemplation must be possible, even in the midst of noise and distractions.

October, 19th, 2003

 Mother Teresa is beatified by Pope (now a saint) John Paul II.

19th August 2016

Archbishop's House Kolkata calls a Press Conference to announce various programmes to be held in Kolkata on occasion of the Canonisation of Mother Teresa on 4th September 2016 at the Vatican.

26th August 2016

Statue of Mother Teresa unveiled by MamataOn the 107th Birthday of Mother Teresa, a life-sized 5.2 feet bronze statue donated by Namit Bajoria, who is the Designate Honorary Consul of the Republic of Macedonia in Kolkata, is installed beside that of St John Paul II who as the then Pope had declared her “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta” on 19th October 2003.

 

4th September 2016

Mother Teresa to be canonised in the Vatican, Rome as "ST TERESA OF CALCUTTA",  at Italian time 10 am (IST 1.30 pm). The ceremony is most likely to be telecast live.

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A 350-member contingent led by Archbishop Thomas D'Souza, Sr Prema – Superior General of Missionaries of Charity and Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee will attend the Canonisation Ceremony

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1 Response

  1. almayasabdam says:
    From: Victoria Desouza <victorianotts@yahoo.com>
    Sent: Thursday, September 1, 2016 1:30 AM
    To: isaac gomes
    Subject: Re: Life-sketch of Mother Teresa posted in Church Citizens' Voice

     
    Fantastic job Isaac. Congratulations. Mother is definitely blessing you. God bless

    Sent from my iPhone

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