by Stephanie Madzey & Gjergji Evangjeli
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier,” was what St. Teresa of Kolkata told the world to do and also lived by herself. She devoted her entire life to helping and serving the poor. This desire and passion began when she was a child and was instilled in her by her mother.
St. Teresa was born in Macedonia in 1910 as Anjezë Bojaxhiu. When she was 8, her father passed away causing a deep bond to form between her and her mother. After her father died, Agnes found herself eating with strangers every night because her mother would invite everyone who needed a meal to their home. Her mother would tell her to “never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others.” They both knew very few of the people who would come, but this didn’t matter. Her mother was teaching her what would become the passion of her life.
In 1937, at age 27, Agnes took her final vows with the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland which included tacking on her title “Mother”. She had taken the name of Teresa in 1928 when she first entered the convent. Thus, Mother Teresa was born.
After her First Profession of Vows in 1931, Mother Teresa was assigned a teaching position at St. Mary’s School for Girls in Kolkata. She remained there until 1946 when God sent her a new calling: a new vocation. While sitting on a train, God spoke to her and told her to leave teaching behind and begin working in the slums of Kolkata. It took two years to get her leave granted, but when it did, she left immediately, received medical training, and started her new life of serving the poor.
Mother Teresa started schools, a new order of sisters, and left an incredible legacy. In 1997, she passed away. Normally, there is supposed to be a five-year grace period before people who have died can be considered for sainthood, but in 2003, Mother Teresa was beatified by Pope John Paul II. He made an exception to the rule for this exceptional woman. While he unfortunately could not see her become a saint, recent events had the world abuzz about whether or not her time has come.
After her second miracle was approved on December 17, 2015, excitement started to build regarding her canonization. Her Canonization Mass on September 4 was attended by tens of thousands of people. As the Pontiff pronounced the formula of canonization, applause broke out throughout St. Peter’s Square.
"Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded,” Pope Francis said during the homily for the occasion.
In describing herself, St. Teresa said, “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.” She offered her life and her whole self to the world and she remains—in devotion and life—a saint for the whole world.