At the age of 18 she left her home to join the Sisters of Loretto in her hometown of Skopje. A great admirer of St. Francis of Assisi, in October, 1950 Teresa received Vatican permission to start her own order in Calcutta, India, 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.”
She converted an abandoned Hindu temple into the Kalighat Home for the Dying, a free hospice for the poor. She then 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 1960’s had opened hospices, orphanages and leper houses all over India. In 1965 Pope Paul VI granted Mother Teresa’s request to expand her order to other countries and before long her order was opening new homes all over the globe. The order’s first house outside India was in Venezuela, and others followed in Rome and Tanzania, and eventually throughout Asia, Africa and Europe. By 1996, she was operating 517 missions in more than 100 countries, including the United States. Today more than one million workers worldwide volunteer for the Missionaries of Charity.
In 1979 Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. In the United States she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985, was made an honorary citizen in 1996 and received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1997. She remains the only person to be featured on an Indian postage stamp while still alive.
“Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.”
“Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents.”
“Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.”
“Good works are links that form a chain of love.”
“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”
“I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?”
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.”
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
“It is easy to love the people far away. It’s not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”