Memorial Feast of Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the poor. Considered one of the 20th Century’s greatest humanitarians, she was canonized as Saint Teresa of Calcutta on September 4, 2016 during Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy, and the anniversary of her death, September 5 is her feast day.

Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, the youngest of three children. She attended a youth group called Sodality, run by a Jesuit priest at her parish, and her involvement opened her to the call of service as a missionary nun.

She joined the Sisters of Loreto at age 17 and was sent to Calcutta where she taught at a high school. She contracted Tuberculosis and was sent to rest in Darjeeling. It was on the train to Darjeeling that she received her calling – what she called “an order” from God to leave the convent and work and live among the poor. 

At this point she did not know that she was to found an order of nuns, or even exactly where she was to serve. “I knew where I belonged, but I did not know how to get there,” she said once, recalling the moment on the train.

Confirmation of the calling came when the Vatican granted her permission to leave the Sisters of Loreto and fulfill her calling under the Archbishop of Calcutta. She started working in the slums, teaching poor children, and treating the sick in their homes. She was joined a year later by some of her former students and together they took in men, women, and children who were dying in the gutters along the streets and cared for them.

In 1950 the Missionaries of Charity were born as a congregation of the Diocese of Calcutta and in 1952 the government granted them a house from which to continue their service among Calcutta’s forgotten.

The congregation very quickly grew from a single house for the dying and unwanted to nearly 500 around the world.  Mother Teresa set up homes for AIDS sufferers, for prostitutes, for battered women, and orphanages for poor children.

She often said that the poorest of the poor were those who had no one to care for them and no one who knew them. And she often remarked with sadness and desolation of million of souls in the developed world whose spiritual poverty and loneliness was such an immense cause of suffering.

She was a fierce defender of the unborn saying: “If you hear of some woman who does not want to keep her child and wants to have an abortion, try to persuade her to bring him to me. I will love that child, seeing in him the sign of God’s love.”

Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997 and was beatified only six years later, on October 19, 2003.

The first reading is taken from 1 Corinthians 4:6B-15. Brothers and sisters: Learn from myself and Apollos not to go beyond what is written, so that none of you will be inflated with pride in favor of one person over against another.

Who confers distinction upon you? What do you possess that you have not received? But if you have received it, why are you boasting as if you did not receive it?

You are already satisfied; you have already grown rich; you have become kings without us! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings, so that we also might become kings with you.

For as I see it, God has exhibited us Apostles as the last of all, like people sentenced to death, since we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and men alike.

We are fools on Christ’s account, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are held in honor, but we in disrepute.

To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clad and roughly treated, we wander about homeless and we toil, working with our own hands. When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently. We have become like the world’s rubbish, the scum of all, to this very moment.

Fr Omolo Joachim AJ