Mother Teresa Essay Research Paper MotherTeresa was

Mother Teresa Essay, Research Paper


Teresa was always her own person, startlingly independent, obedient, yet

challenging some preconceived notions and expectations. Her own life story

includes many illustrations of her willingness to listen to and follow her own

conscience, even when it seemed to contradict what was expected. This strong and

independent Slavic woman was born Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Yugoslavia,

on August 27, 1910. Five children were born to Nikola and Dronda Bojaxhiu, yet

only three survived. Gonxha was the youngest, with an older sister, Aga, and

brother, Lazar. This brother describes the family’s early years as

"well-off," not the life of peasants reported inaccurately by some.

"We lacked for nothing." In fact, the family lived in one of the two

houses they owned. Nikola was a contractor, working with a partner in a

successful construction business. He was also heavily involved in the politics

of the day. Lazar tells of his father’s rather sudden and shocking death, which

may have been due to poisoning because of his political involvement. With this

event, life changed overnight as their mother assumed total responsibility for

the family, Aga, only 14, Lazar, 9, and Gonxha, 7. Though so much of her young

life was centered in the Church, Mother Teresa later revealed that until she

reached 18, she had never thought of being a nun. During her early years,

however, she was fascinated with stories of missionary life and service. She

could locate any number of missions on the map, and tell others of the service

being given in each place. Called to Religious Life At 18, Gonxha decided to

follow the path that seems to have been unconsciously unfolding throughout her

life. She chose the Loreto Sisters of Dublin, missionaries and educators founded

in the 17th century to educate young girls. In 1928, the future Mother Teresa

began her religious life in Ireland, far from her family and the life she’d

known, never seeing her mother again in this life, speaking a language few

understood. During this period a sister novice remembered her as "very

small, quiet and shy," and another member of the congregation described her

as "ordinary." Mother Teresa herself, even with the later decision to

begin her own community of religious, continued to value her beginnings with the

Loreto sisters and to maintain close ties. Unwavering commitment and

self-discipline, always a part of her life and reinforced in her association

with the Loreto sisters, seemed to stay with her throughout her life. One year

later, in 1929, Gonxha was sent to Darjeeling to the novitiate of the Sisters of

Loreto. In 1931, she made her first vows there, choosing the name of Teresa,

honoring both saints of the same name, Teresa of Avila and Therese of Lisieux.

In keeping with the usual procedures of the congregation and her deepest

desires, it was time for the new Sister Teresa to begin her years of service to

God’s people. She was sent to St. Mary’s, a high school for girls in a district

of Calcutta. Here she began a career teaching history and geography, which she

reportedly did with dedication and enjoyment for the next 15 years. It was in

the protected environment of this school for the daughters of the wealthy that

Teresa’s new "vocation" developed and grew. This was the clear

message, the invitation to her "second calling," that Teresa heard on

that fateful day in 1946 when she traveled to Darjeeling for retreat. The

Streets of Calcutta During the next two years, Teresa pursued every avenue to

follow what she "never doubted" was the direction God was pointing

her. She was "to give up even Loreto where I was very happy and to go out

in the streets. I heard the call to give up all and follow Christ into the slums

to serve him among the poorest of the poor." Technicalities and

practicalities abounded. She had to be released formally, not from her perpetual

vows, but from living within the convents of the Sisters of Loreto. She had to

confront the Church’s resistance to forming new religious communities, and

receive permission from the Archbishop of Calcutta to serve the poor openly on

the streets. She had to figure out how to live and work on the streets, without

the safety and comfort of the convent. As for clothing, Teresa decided she would

set aside the habit she had worn during her years as a Loreto sister and wear

the ordinary dress of an Indian woman: a plain white sari and sandals. Teresa

first went to Patna for a few months to prepare for her future work by taking a

nursing course. In 1948 she received permission from Pius XII to leave her

community and live as an independent nun. So back to Calcutta she went and found

a small hovel to rent to begin her new undertaking. Wisely, she thought to start

by teaching the children of the slums, an endeavor she knew well. Though she had

no proper equipment, she made use of what was available?writing in the dirt.

She strove to make the children of the poor literate, to teach them basic

hygiene. As they grew to know her, she gradually began visiting the poor and ill

in their families and others all crowded together in the surrounding squalid

shacks, inquiring about their needs. Teresa found a never-ending stream of human

needs in the poor she met, and frequently was exhausted. Despite the weariness

of her days she never omitted her prayer, finding it the source of support,

strength and blessing for all her ministry. A Movement Begins Teresa was not

alone for long. Within a year, she found more help than she anticipated. Many

seemed to have been waiting for her example to open their own floodgates of

charity and compassion. Young women came to volunteer their services and later

became the core of her Missionaries of Charity. Others offered food, clothing,

the use of buildings, medical supplies and money. As support and assistance

mushroomed, more and more services became possible to huge numbers of suffering

people. From their birth in Calcutta, nourished by the faith, compassion and

commitment of Mother Teresa, the Missionaries of Charity have grown like the

mustard seed of the Scriptures. New vocations continue to come from all parts of

the world, serving those in great need wherever they are found. Homes for the

dying, refuges for the care and teaching of orphans and abandoned children,

treatment centers and hospitals for those suffering from leprosy, centers and

refuges for alcoholics, the aged and street people?the list is endless. Until

her death in 1997, Mother Teresa continued her work among the poorest of the

poor, depending on God for all of her needs. Honors too numerous to mention had

come her way throughout the years, as the world stood astounded by her care for

those usually deemed of little value. In her own eyes she was "God’s

pencil?a tiny bit of pencil with which he writes what he likes." Despite

years of strenuous physical, emotional and spiritual work, Mother Teresa seemed

unstoppable. Though frail and bent, with numerous ailments, she always returned

to her work, to those who received her compassionate care for more than 50

years. Only months before her death, when she became too weak to manage the

administrative work, she relinquished the position of head of her Missionaries

of Charity. She knew the work would go on. Finally, on September 5, 1997, after

finishing her dinner and prayers, her weakened heart gave her back to the God

who was the very center of her life.


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