Timeline History

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, OM, (born Agnesλ Gonxhe Bojaxhiu August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997), was an Albanian Roman Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity in India. Her work among the poverty-stricken of Kolkata (Calcutta) made her one of the world's most famous people, and she was beatified by Pope John Paul II in October 2003. Hence, she may be properly called Blessed Teresa by Catholics.
Born in Skopje, in today's Republic of Macedonia, at 18 she left home to join the Sisters of Loretto. In 1962, she received the Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding. In 1971, she was awarded the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize. Teresa was also awarded the Templeton Prize in 1973, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, and India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in 1980. She was awarded the Legion d'Honneur from Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1981. She was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985 and was made an Honorary Citizen of the United States in 1996. She was the first and only person to be featured on an Indian postage stamp while still alive. Her supporters sometimes referred to her as the "Angel of Mercy" and "Saint of the Gutter."
Teresa was also known for her books about Christian spirituality and prayer, some that were written together with her close friend Frθre Roger.
While many Catholics and others considered Teresa the embodiment of a "living saint," critics have raised questions about her public statements, working practices, political connections, and the use of funds donated to her charity.

Missionaries of Charity

In October, 1950 Teresa received Vatican permission to start her own order, which the Vatican originally labeled as the Diocesan Congregation of the Calcutta Diocese, but which later became known as the Missionaries of Charity, whose mission was to care for (in her own words) "the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone." It began as a small order with 12 members in Calcutta; today it has more than 4,000 nuns running orphanages, AIDS hospices, and charity centres worldwide, and caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless and victims of floods, epidemics and famine in Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America, Poland, and Australia.
With the help of Indian officials she converted an abandoned Hindu temple into the Kalighat Home for the Dying, a free hospice for the poor. She soon after opened another hospice, Nirmal Hriday (Pure Heart), a home for lepers called Shanti Nagar (City of Peace), and an orphanage. The order soon began to attract both recruits and charitable donations, and by the 1960s had opened hospices, orphanages and leper houses all over India.
In 1965, by granting a Decree of Praise, Pope Paul VI granted Mother Teresa's request to expand her order to other countries. Teresa's order started to rapidly grow, with new homes opening all over the globe. The order's first house outside India was in Venezuela, and others followed in Rome and Tanzania, and eventually in many countries in Asia, Africa, and Europe, including Albania. In addition, the first Missionaries of Charity home in the United States was established in the South Bronx, New York. By 1996, she was operating 517 missions in more than 100 countries. Today over one million workers worldwide are employed by the Missionaries of Charity.

Health and Death

In 1983 Teresa suffered a heart attack in Rome, while visiting Pope John Paul II. After a second attack in 1989 she received a pacemaker. In 1991, after a battle with pneumonia while in Mexico, she had further heart problems.
She offered to resign her position as head of the order. A secret ballot vote was carried out, and all the nuns, except herself, voted for Mother Teresa to stay. Mother Teresa agreed to continue her work as head of the Missionaries of Charity.
In April 1996, Mother Teresa fell and broke her collar bone. Later that year, in August, she suffered from malaria, and failure of the left heart ventricle. She underwent heart surgery, but it was clear that her health was declining. On March 13, 1997 she stepped down from the head of Missionaries of Charity and died on September 5, 1997, just 9 days after her 87th birthday.
The Archbishop of Calcutta, Henry Sebastian D'Souza, said he ordered a priest to perform an exorcism on Mother Teresa shortly before she died because he thought she was being attacked by the devil. Catholic experts agree that, while exorcisms remain an important but rare part of the church's work, the Archbishop may have overreacted in ordering the ceremony.
At the time of her death, Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity had over 4,000 sisters, an associated brotherhood of 300 members, and over 100,000 lay volunteers, operating 610 missions in 123 countries. These included hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children's and family counseling programs, orphanages, and schools.
Mother Teresa was granted a full state funeral by the Indian Government, an honor normally given to presidents and prime ministers, in gratitude for her services to the poor of all religions in India. Her death was widely considered a great tragedy within both secular and religious communities. The former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Pιrez de Cuιllar, for example, said: "She is the United Nations. She is peace in the world." Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan said that Mother Teresa 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."


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