On September 4, 2016, Blessed Mother Teresa became Saint Teresa of Kolkata. This saint of mercy devoted her life to the Lord and caring for the needs of the poor. Her gifts of compassion and love to those most in need inspired others to join her, forming the Missionaries of Mercy who continue to carry out Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy around the world today.
A Model of Mercy
Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910 in Macedonia.
At 18, she joined the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland and chose the name Teresa, after St. Theresa of Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries.
In 1929, she arrived in Kolkata and began teaching. She enjoyed teaching, however, she became increasingly concerned about the poverty and despair surrounding the convent where she lived.
While traveling to an annual retreat on September 10, 1946, she received a calling from God to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.
In 1948, she received basic medical training at Holy Family Hospital and began her service to the poor. She was soon joined by other women dedicated to the same work.
In 1950, Teresa received Vatican permission to start a diocesan congregation that would soon be known as the Missionaries of Charity.
In her own words, its mission was to care for “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, and 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.”
Her work quickly took root in other countries.
The Missionaries of Charity found many ways to serve. Early work included a hospice for Kolkata’s poor, allowing them to die with dignity. Later, it opened a home for lepers and expanded to include leprosy outreach clinics throughout Kolkata. As the order took on an increasing number of lost children, she opened the Children’s Home of the Immaculate Heart as a residence for orphans and homeless youth.
By the time of Teresa’s death in 1997, what started as a 13-member congregation in Kolkata had grown into a worldwide mission with over 4,000 sisters running and working in orphanages, AIDS hospices, caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor, homeless and victims of floods, epidemics and famine. Members adhere to four vows: chastity, poverty, obedience and “wholehearted service to the poorest of the poor.”
- A handout from Catholic Relief Services about the life and legacy of Mother Teresa
- An article from the Diocese of Orlando about a local woman’s life with Mother Teresa
- An article from Catholic Relief Services about their history in ministry work with Mother Teresa
- An article from Catholic Relief Services highlighting some of their most memorable moments with Mother Teresa
- An article from Catholic Relief Services featuring 5 ways we can live like Mother Teresa
- Video reflections on Mother Teresa
How can you follow St. Teresa’s example to serve the poorest of the poor?
with locations in various counties, provides hope and opportunity to people in need. There are volunteer opportunities to help alleviate hunger, prevent homelessness, provide access to health care, care for refugees and other acts of mercy.
in Apopka, a service learning community dedicated to the empowerment of Central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities, has volunteer opportunities for bilingual licensed mental health counselors, licensed social workers and tutors.
of the Diocese of Orlando works together, with the people in our sister diocese of San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic, to find creative solutions to the root causes of injustice in our global community. Missioners are needed in the areas of construction, education and health care.