Yesterday was International Women’s Day. I can’t think of a better way to honor women than to share with you one of the women who inspires me.
I may not be Catholic, but we love and serve the same God, and I appreciate some of Catholicism’s people and practices. Mother Teresa is one of those people.
Here’s the basic biographical info:
Mother Teresa was born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu (don’t ask me how to pronounce that. I’ve heard it on documentaries, but it’s been a while. The English equivalent is Agnes.) She was born in 1910, in an area that is now part of Macedonia. At age 18, Agnes left her family to become a nun and study to become a missionary. Within about a year, she found herself doing missionary work in India, a land that would become her home and mission field for the rest of her life.
Sister Teresa was in India for seventeen years when she felt a strong call to do something new. She felt that God wanted her to live and work among the poorest in Indian slums. She adopted a simple white sari with blue trim as her uniform, and soon had a group of similarly-clad nuns working beside her. In 1950, the Vatican recognized their organization as the Missionaries of Charity.
Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity operated schools, leper houses, orphanages, clinics, and hospice care for the dying. Because of the caste system in India, these poorest of the poor had no hope. They had no resources, and their only opportunity was begging. The Missionaries of Charity brought them dignity and care that they had never dreamed possible.
Many people of all faiths and no faith at all were inspired by Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. Volunteers from all over the world would show up in Calcutta asking her to teach them, and she would put them to work.
Mother Teresa became an international “celebrity” for her work. Books and documentary films were created about her life. Interviews with Mother Teresa scored audiences around the world. World leaders wanted to know her. She was infinitely quotable, putting her matter-of-fact style into short quotes that encourage us all to love and care for others.
Here are a few of my favorites:
“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
Mother Teresa served the people of India for nearly 50 years, and died in Calcutta in 1997. The Missionaries of Charity continue to serve the poor around the world.
In 2016, Mother Teresa was canonized as St. Teresa of Calcutta by Pope Francis.
What women inspire you to love and serve others? Leave a comment and share!