Mother Teresa was born as Agnes Bojaxhiu. Since, childhood she was committed towards the work performed by the missionaries. She took the name ‘Teresa’ when she joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns in 1928 and dedicated herself towards (poverty), remain without possessions, (Chastity) to remain pure in mind and body and promised to obey her religious superiors (Obedience).
Mother Teresa was embodied with vision, compassion, dedication and an excellent power to inspire others. Influencing others with her work was the main characteristic that differentiated her from the other leaders of the century.
At a very early age Mother Teresa was taught to feed the poor, help those in need and to donate money to those less fortunate than her own family.
Agnes was a determined and strong follower of cause as taught to her by her father, a nationalist .Agnes was also a member of “Soldality of the Blessed Virgin Mary” where letters from missionaries were often read. Hearing about thousands of deaths in India due to lack of hunger, incurable diseases, poverty inflamed Mother Teresa’s mind and soul. Her passion to serve the needy people grew along her age and she finally left her home at the age of 19 and joined “The Sisters Of Loreto” in Ireland.
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After coming to India in 1929 Mother Teresa enjoyed her occupation of teaching at St. Mary’s, Darjeeling but her passion to help the poor was still very much alive. Mother Teresa even after becoming The Principal of St. Mary’s knew that her home was not within the walls of the convent rather it was outside the bounded line of the school with the poor.
“Inspirational Day”, 10th Sept 1946 as perceived by Mother Teresa was the day when she finally realized the meaning of her birth and at once she left her position at St. Mary’s to help the poor.
On August 16th 1948, at the age of thirty-seven, after getting the permission from The Holy Father of Catholic Church ,Teresa removed the black veil and habit of the Order of Loreto and donned a white cotton sari, with three stripes of blue and walked through with nothing but blind, total faith, to begin her new life.
The first thing she did was that she travelled Patna to study nursing, the knowledge for which she knew she would have a definite need, if she were to help the sick and poor. She learned how to give injections, measure the doses of medicines, deliver babies, and perform simple first aid.
Mother Teresa started her work in Calcutta with just 5 Rs. in her pocket. The first main attainment was when she was able to gather 30 students for her own set-up school in which she taught them by writing on the ground with the help of a stick.
After teaching, she and her students from St. Mary who were very much touched by her examples on love and care joined her in the activity of begging food for the poor. Mother and her students took the same diet as the poor. They collected food by going to church with tin pans and asking people not to throw the left over food. Not only food Mother and her followers also begged and prayed on regular basis in front of the medical suppliers to obtain the medical supplies for free that were very much needed.
Soon many nuns joined Mother Teresa and devoted their lives towards serving the poor. Mother and the Sisters moved into a building, called Kalighat, the House of the Destitute and Dying allotted to them by the Government of India.
At first the citizens feared that Mother was here to change the religion of people but,there was no attempt to do this and slowly after a long-suffering effort on the part of the Sisters and Mother, they were hopefully able to gain the trust of the Indian people. Their main aim was to care for their needs. When people died they were buried according to their own faith. Thousand of people had contracted leprosy at that time, a disease which measured in almost epidemic proportions. Leprosy was a horrible contagious disease, but treatable. Mother Teresa along with the help of other sisters established a leper town for the sufferers where they and their families could live in a clean, safe place and learn skills that would enable them to support themselves.
In 1984, the Missionaries of Charity Fathers was founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta with Fr. Joseph Langford, to combine the work of the missionaries of Charity with the ministerial priesthood wherein a new vow to give whole hearted and free service to the poorest of the poor was introduced.
It was better known as the home of joy for the sick children. Missionaries cared not only for the poor but for the refugees, ex-prostitutes, mentally ill, those suffering from various diseases like AIDS, Leprosy and also took care of the aged people. Separate homes were made for separate people.eg 19 homes in Kolkata alone were established for women, orphaned children ,people suffering from AIDS, leper colony etc. These services were provided to people regardless of their religion.
Apart from Missionaries of Charity ,Place of the Immaculate Heart, Town of Peace, etc were some of her few contributions by Mother Teresa to the mankind.
A leader is not only the one who just influences or motivates his/her followers but, also has the courage to face each and every situation that acts as a hurdle in his/her objective. Mother Teresa was a true leader in every sense. In order to serve the poor she reached the unreached. This was proved in 1982 when Mother Teresa and her followers rescued 37 children trapped in front of line hospital by brokering a temporary cease fire between the Israeli army and the Palestine Guerillas. She along with the Red Cross workers travelled through the war zone to the devastated hospital to evacuate the young patients.
The spending of the charity money received was criticized by some to which Mother stated that “No matter who says what, you should accept it with a smile and do your own work.”. She believed only in the contact with God through serving people. The version found written on the wall in Mother Teresa’s home for children:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Mother Teresa in the late 19th century had become a world famous personality as she travelled around the world to help those in need.1991was the first time when she returned to her hometown and opened a missionaries of Charity Brothers in Tirana, Albania. By 1996, almost 517 missions in more than 100 countries were operated by her with the help of other sisters & brothers.
Over the years Mother Teresa’s missionaries of Charity grew from twelve to thousands serving the “poorest of the poor” in 450 centers around the world. Mother Teresa did not focus on the donated money for the elimination of poverty or improving the condition of her small homes established for the needy but also on opening new convents and increasing the missionaries work.
On March 13, 1997, six months before Mother Teresa’s death, Sister Mary Nirmala Joshi was selected the new Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity. Her death was mourned in both secular and religious communities.
Her recognition in India:-
She was awarded the Padma Shri Award in 1962 by The Govt of India. She continued to receive major Indian Awards such as Jawaharlal Nehru award and Ratna award.
During her life she faced many criticisms from the Bhartiya Janta Party, Vishwa Hindu, Giriraj Kishore but, at the same time she gained recognition from various renowned personalities such as President Pratibha Patel. She said of Mother Teresa “clad in a white sariwith a blue border, she and the sisters of Missionaries of Charity became a symbol of hope to many – the aged, the destitute, the unemployed, the diseased, the terminally ill, and those abandoned by their families.”
Her Reception in rest of the world:-
In 1962, Mother Teresa was awarded the Philippines based Rawon Magsaysay Award for International understanding, given for work in South & East Asia.
She was even presented with the Presidential Medal Of Freedom at a White House ceremony in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan.
Since her death Mother Teresa has progressed rapidly along the steps towards sainthood.
She was even awarded civilian awards such as Balzan Prize for promoting peace, humanity brotherhood and the Albert Scheweitzer International Prize.
she was “a rare and unique individual who lived long for higher purposes. Her life-long devotion to the care of the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged was one of the highest examples of service to our humanity.” As stated by Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan and “She is the United Nations. She is peace in the world.” As said by The former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar .
Missionaries of Charity
“To those who say they admire my courage,
I have to tell them that I would not have any
if I were not convinced that each time
I touch the body of a leper,
a body that reeks with a foul stench,
I touch the same Christ I receive in the Eucharist.”
Her Influence on others:-
Marlene T. Elias, Newbury Park, California, formerly of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, is a noted Gospel singer, entertainer, songwriter, speaker, performer and freelance writer. Marlene, who was an entertainer on the East Coast, happily put aside a career to become a wife and mother. She and her husband, Tony, became parents of three daughters and one son.
Eventually, after the children were grown, Marlene returned to her love of music, playing the piano and organ and becoming a soloist for Masses at the family’s parish, St. Julie Billiart Catholic Church. Soon she performed at civic functions, entertained at local clubs and for a while Marlene was lead vocalist with a dance band, “The Swing Sounds”, featuring music reminiscent of the Big Band Era.
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In 1984 Marlene released her first Gospel album entitled “In His Name”, which led to Marlene’s appearance on KIHS, Los Angeles’s new Catholic TV station as a guest singer on a new show called “Heart of the Nation”, where she was featured for over a year. She has since done two videos featuring songs she’s written, appearing with Patrick Wayne, Barbara Valentine, Jack Knight and other guest celebrities.
During the 1984 Olympics, Marlene was chosen to sing the National Anthem and God Bless America. Many other celebrity benefits followed, where she joined some of the best known entertainers, such as Danny Thomas, George Burns, Bob Hope, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Martin Sheen to name a few. She and her daughter, Annie Gabriel, a film producer, recently worked with Elliot Gould at a prayer service in Hollywood, to encourage members of the Screen Actors Guild to come to the peaceful settlement of an anticipated strike.
Marlene was kept busy, as she performed at other charitable benefits for Hospice, St. Ann’s Maternity Home (for unwed mothers), homeless shelters, ACCW, the Greater Los Angeles Archdiocesan functions and Masses celebrated by the late Cardinal Manning, Cardinal Mahoney, many Bishops and clergymen from around the country.
But Marlene was to experience a deep spiritual awakening, when in October of 1987, in the company of her brother, Monsignor John Esseff of Scranton, Pennsylvania, she visited with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. So great was the touching experience, that upon her return, she began sharing her life-changing journey with people from various churches and civic clubs, through slides she had taken. Marlene says that all of her other accomplishments pale in comparison to the meeting of and close friendship with Mother Teresa. For ten years this friendship blossomed and grew, as the two women met, spoke, prayed and corresponded.
In addition, the Lord sent Marlene albums of music inspired by this saintly woman. She’s traveled across the country and around the world with her beautiful message of love, becoming a spokesperson for Mother Teresa. Marlene has presented over 800 talks, with slides and music, bringing the message of Mother Teresa to “See Jesus in everyone and to be Jesus to all those we meet.” There seems to be a never-ending thirst for the legion of stories about Mother Teresa, especially the first-hand stories of this legendary and humble woman.
In 1995, Marlene was privileged to be asked by Mother Teresa to sing at the dedication of a new home for unwed mothers in Washington, D.C. Mother Teresa received this home anonymously through the efforts of Hillary Clinton. Though they are diametrically opposed on the abortion issue, they both agreed to have the babies adopted. This ceremony was attended by Mrs. Clinton, Cardinal Hickey and Mayor Marion Barry. At the Mass of dedication, Marlene presented Mother Teresa with a Monstrance and a Chalice for the new home’s chapel and sang, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”
On September 5, 1997, Marlene was saddened to hear of the death of her dear friend. The Sisters remembered the promise that Marlene made to Mother Teresa, to sing two of the songs Marlene had written, which Mother Teresa especially chose for her funeral. With a little help from her friends, Marlene was able to make the trip to India to fulfill that promise. Marlene sang, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper” and “See Jesus” at Mother Teresa’s funeral on September 13, 1997.
On October 19, 2003, the Beatification of Mother Teresa by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. By request of Sister Fatima and Sister Nirmala Marlene was asked to sing at two private Masses for the Sisters. Her brother was concelebrant at the Mass of Thanksgiving following the beatification.
To date, Marlene has written two albums of inspirational music and one single, an anthem for the homeless, all inspired by this saint. In all, Marlene has recorded six albums of spiritual music, which she recently combined on six CD’s and cassettes tapes. Through the years, a portion of the proceeds has gone to the Missionaries of Charity. This will continue.
Marlene has had first person articles published in Columbia Magazine, Scene Magazine, Catholic Golden Age Magazine, The Catholic Light, The Tidings, Ligourian Magazine, Marian Helpers Bulletin, St. Anthony’s Messenger Le Brigand, a French Jesuit Publication, News Chronicle, Daily News, Sunday Independent, Sharing Ideas, an international speakers magazine as well as other publications. Marlene’s photo of Mother Teresa and the Beggar, which appeared on the cover of Catholic Golden Age, won best color photo award. Five of her songs won awards in the Hollywood Song Jubilee.
Marlene hopes that through her music, writing and speaking, she, like Mother Teresa, can become a beacon of light in a dark world, leading souls to Christ. Using Mother Teresa’s message of “doing even the small task with the greatest love”, we can change hearts, and with that love, light the way to Jesus.
Reception in the rest of the world
President Ronald Reagan presents Mother Teresa with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony, 1985
In 1962, Mother 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”. 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. After returning from India, however, the footage was found to be extremely well lit. Muggeridge claimed this was a miracle of “divine light” from Mother Teresa herself. Others in the crew thought it was due to a new type of ultra-sensitive Kodak film. Muggeridge later converted to Catholicism.
Around this time, the Catholic world began to honor 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. She later received the Pacem in Terris Award (1976). Since her death, Mother Teresa has progressed rapidly along the steps towards sainthood, currently having reached the stage of having been beatified.
Mother Teresa was honoured by both governments and civilian organizations. She was appointed an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia in 1982, “for service to the community of Australia and humanity at large”. The United Kingdom and the United States each repeatedly granted awards, culminating in the Order of Merit in 1983, and honorary citizenship of the United States received on 16 November 1996. 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 for implicitly giving support to the Duvaliers and to corrupt businessmen such as Charles Keating and Robert Maxwell. In Keating’s case she wrote to the judge of his trial asking for clemency to be shown.HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa#cite_note-Frontline-55″
Universities in both the West and in India granted her honorary degrees. Other civilian awards include the Balzan Prize for promoting humanity, peace and brotherhood among peoples (1978), and the Albert Schweitzer International Prize (1975).
In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes 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 hurtable [sic] and so much, and I find that very difficult.” She also singled out abortion as ‘the greatest destroyer of peace in the world’.
Towards the end of her life, Mother Teresa attracted some negative attention in the Western media. The journalist Christopher Hitchens has been one of her most active critics. He was commissioned to co-write and narrate the documentary Hell’s Angel about her for the British Channel 4 after Aroup Chatterjee encouraged the making of such a program, although Chatterjee was unhappy with the “sensationalist approach” of the final product. Hitchens expanded his criticism in a 1995 book, The Missionary Position.
Chatterjee writes that while she was alive Mother Teresa and her official biographers refused to collaborate with his own investigations and that she failed to defend herself against critical coverage in the Western press. He gives as examples a report in The Guardian in Britain whose “stringent (and quite detailed) attack on conditions in her orphanages … [include] charges of gross neglect and physical and emotional abuse”, and another documentary Mother Teresa: Time for Change? broadcast in several European countries.
The German magazine Stern published a critical article on the first anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death. This concerned allegations regarding financial matters and the spending of donations. The medical press has also published criticism of her, arising from very different outlooks and priorities on patients’ needs. Other critics include Tariq Ali, a member of the editorial committee of the New Left Review, and the Irish investigative journalist Donal MacIntyre.
Her death was mourned in both secular and religious communities. In tribute, Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan said that she was “a rare and unique individual who lived long for higher purposes. Her life-long devotion to the care of the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged was one of the highest examples of service to our humanity.” The former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar said: “She is the United Nations. She is peace in the world.” During her lifetime and after her death, Mother Teresa was consistently found by Gallup to be the single most widely admired person in the US, and in 1999 was ranked as the “most admired person of the 20th century” by a poll in the US. She out-polled all other volunteered answers by a wide margin, and was in first place in all major demographic categories except the very young
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