Who Is St. Teresa of Calcutta? Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu is born in 1910 in Skopje, the Republic of Macedonia, which then was part of the Ottoman Empire. Her parents are devout Catholics of Albanian heritage. Her father dies when Agnes is eight years old. Her mother instills in Agnes a deep respect for the poor. On a pilgrimage at age twelve to Church of the Black Madonna in Letnica, Kosovo, she discerns a calling to religious life. Six years later, she joins the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland, taking the name of Mary Teresa. In 1931, she is sent to Calcutta, India, to teach at a Catholic high school for poor girls. She makes her final vows in 1937, adopting the customary title of “Mother.” While traveling by train in 1946, Mother Teresa receives her “call within a call.” Christ asks her to lay aside teaching and serve the destitute of Calcutta, “the unwanted, unloved, uncared for,” in her words. She receives approval to found a religious community, the Missionaries of Charity, in 1950. Their habit is the sari, a garment worn by poor Indian women. During the 1950s and 60s, Mother opens schools, homes for the dying, orphanages, nursing homes, medical clinics, even a leper colony. She expands her work internationally, including communist Cuba, East Germany, and the Soviet Union. Mother Teresa receives the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. “I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion,” she says at her Nobel lecture. Mother Teresa dies in 1997, receiving a state funeral in India. She is beatified in 2003 by Pope John Paul II (the customary waiting period is waived). Pope Francis canonizes her on September 4, 2016. The Missionaries of Charity are now established in 130 countries, numbering around four thousands sisters. 4 Sacred Heart Major Seminary | Mosaic | Fall 2016 MOTHER TERESA (June 21, 1985) Long after you depart Your memory leaves behind An impression on my heart One more constant than the time More heavenly than the Chartres Deeper than any river A holy flame to warm a shiver. –Mark Latkovic Moral and Social Virtues St. Mother Teresa had many virtues, natural and supernatural. The evangelical virtues of poverty, chastity, and obedience—yes; the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love—of course. But she also had acquired the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and courage—especially courage. How many times would we read that Mother Teresa had spoken truth to power, whether at the National Prayer Breakfast with powerful politicians present or some other gathering of the rich and mighty? What was usually mere cliché or rhetoric with many people was reality with her. She was fearless in denouncing injustice of any kind always and everywhere, and proclaiming essentially (what would be called) the “gospel of life” against the “culture of death”—even before St. Pope John Paul II used that language in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). Her many virtues should not be thought of as only a matter of concern for her own personal moral and spiritual perfection. On the contrary, this holy woman demonstrated how personal virtue leads to social virtue and social virtue, in turn, helps reinforce (and even form) personal virtue.