Mother Teresa of Calcutta, was born Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu, to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia. At age 18, she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. It was 1928 when she said goodbye to her mother and made her way to a new land and a new life. The following year she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India. There she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service. She was assigned to a high school for girls in Calcutta, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy. But she could not escape the realities around her – the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming numbers of destitute people.
In 1946, while riding a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat, Sister Teresa heard what she later explained as “a call within a call. The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.” She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and instead, to “follow Christ into the slums to serve Him among the poorest of the poor.” After receiving permission to leave Loreto, establish a new religious community, and undertake her new work, Sister Teresa took a nursing course for several months. She returned to Calcutta, lived in the slums and opened a school for poor children where she soon began getting to know her neighbors – especially the poor and sick and getting to know their needs through visits.
The work was exhausting, but volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity. In 1952, the city of Calcutta gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute. As the order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging, and street people.
For the next four decades, Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor. Her love knew no bounds. Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. In 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On September 5, 1997, God called her home. Blessed Teresa was canonized by Pope Francis on September 4, 2016.