Known as a woman who lived by her convictions, Mother Teresa
is an icon who represents the goodness and humanitarianism
that lives in all of us. Born in Yugoslavia in 1910, Agnes
Gonxha Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa) committed herself to a religious
life at the age of 12.
Mother Teresa has been referred to as a basically obedient
person who, however, was not afraid to follow her own beliefs
at times, even if that meant going against what was expected.
Her family enjoyed a middle class lifestyle and owned two
homes until her father's sudden death in 1918. It is believed
that his death may have been caused by poisoning at the hands
of an opposing political militant group.
Her father's death and the dramatic change that it had on
her family's situation had a profound impact on Agnes. At
18, she left home to join the Sisters of Lereto to live as
a missionary. Her missionary work took her to India in 1929.
Agnes took her religious vows as a nun in 1931 and changed
her name to Teresa after the patron saint of missionaries.
After serving for 20 years at the Loreto convent school in
Calcutta, she was named headmistress in 1944. In 1948, Mother
Teresa left the convent to live and work among those suffering
the hardest in the slums of Calcutta. Working from faith alone,
she established an open-air school for children living in
the slums. Her leap of faith paid off as volunteers and funds
allowed for the school to continue and for her to continue
her personal mission of helping others.
In 1950, she started her own order, The Missionaries of Charity,
who sought out to help the castaways of society. Pope Paul
IV elevated the missionaries to an International Religious
Family by decree in 1965.
Mother Teresa lived a life of poverty, denied herself worldly
possessions, and shied away from acclaim. Her devotion to
the Roman Catholic faith and her belief in putting the wellbeing
of others before herself made her an international symbol
for charity and goodwill. She committed her life to helping
those with nowhere else to turn.
The Missionaries of Charity expanded their work to include
missionary services throughout the world. They tasked themselves
with helping the poorest of the poor and responded in the
wake of great tragedy. In addition, treatment centers started
working with AIDS sufferers and substance abusers.
Mother Teresa's charity became an official international
organization in 1969. By the 1990's, the charitable organization
involved over one million volunteer co-workers in more than
40 countries. Those involved with the Missionaries of Charity
not only worked with the poor and suffering, they also tried
to follow a life that is like Mother Teresa by practicing
charity and goodwill within their own families and personal
relationships. The simple desire of wanting to help people
had grown into a movement that attracted people around the
globe. She led by example and people wanted to be involved
with charity after seeing what she had accomplished.
In 1979. Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
for her world-changing work and the influence it had over
people. She continued to work as the head of the Missionaries
of Charity until 1997. Although she had suffered heart attacks
and had broken her collar bone, she always returned to work.
Her volunteers and the people she helped would see her tiny,
bent over frame walking amongst them. Six months after she
stepped down as the head of her ministry. She passed away
in 1997 in Calcutta as one of the world's most famous women
who transcended her own incredible work.
There is a secret you don't
Besides the factual Mother Teresa biography presented above
there is a tiny secret that her family has finally allowed
to become public. The secret is that during her silly moods,
Mother Teresa used to like to impersonate Gilbert Gottfried
impersonating a duck.