Throughout history, you’ll find famous figures like Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and Martin Luther King Jr. in practically every textbook – and rightly so, since they left behind quite the legacy.
However, we often forget about people who made small differences that left a lasting impact on the hearts of humanity. One of those people is Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic saint remembered for her missionary work in India.
Today, we celebrate the birth of Mother Teresa and look back on her life, good deeds, and love toward those in need.
Young Mother Teresa
Where was Mother Teresa born, you ask? Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, otherwise known as Mother Teresa, St. Mother Teresa, or St. Teresa of Calcutta, was born on August 26, 1910, in the Ottoman Empire to Albanian parents who were devout Catholics.
After her father suddenly died when she was eight years old, she clung to her mother, who taught her how to live a life devoted to compassion and charity. Teresa recalled her mother saying to her on one occasion, “My child, never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others.”
By the age of 12, she was convinced that she needed to commit herself to live a religious life. So, at the age of 18, she left home and joined the Loreto Sisters in Ireland, where she would learn English and how to be a missionary.
Once she accepted her new life as a nun, she never saw her family again.
Mother Teresa’s Missionary Work
Once she left Ireland in 1929, Mother Teresa arrived in Calcutta, India, where she would serve as a teacher of geography and history to young girls in poverty. During this time, she was incredibly disturbed by a multitude of poor Bengali families and felt called to help, but didn’t know how.
Continuing to teach, she took her Final Profession of Vows in 1937, where she promised to live a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience. As she said her vows, she accepted the title of “Mother” and from there on was known as Mother Teresa.
It wasn’t until 1946 that Mother Teresa received spiritual guidance, or “the call within the call” as she would later describe it, during an annual retreat at the Loreto convent. As she rode a train to the destination, she said Christ spoke to her and told her to stop teaching and instead serve the poor and sick in the slums of Calcutta.
Since Teresa had taken a vow of obedience to her convent, she had to spend a year and a half trying to convince them to let her leave and pursue her new calling. Once released, she would then boldly venture out into the city in her notorious blue and white sari with no other agenda than to help those in need.
Her first year of serving in the streets was filled with doubt and difficulty. With no income, food, or supplies, she questioned the calling God gave her and was tempted to run back to her old convent where she knew she could live a comfortable life.
Teresa continued to pursue God’s calling despite her doubts, and as a result, took significant steps that would change the world. She quickly opened a school for the poor and even convinced the city’s government to donate an abandoned building to the sick and dying. By 1950 she started a congregation, the Missionaries of Charity.
As her congregation grew, so did donations from India, as well as from all around the world. Surely enough, stories of Mother Teresa and her charity toward the poor began to be told all across the globe. With the donations she received, she opened orphanages, nursing homes, health clinics, soup kitchens, and more.
Accolades of Mother Teresa
As her charities grew, so did her recognition. Mother Teresa’s tireless efforts to help the poor didn’t go unnoticed as she began to receive numerous awards, including the Jewel of India, the Soviet Union’s Gold Medal, and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
For the next 18 years, she continued to humbly serve the poor and live among them as family. By the time of Mother Teresa’s death in 1997, her charities grew to over 4,000, with 610 foundations in 123 countries. In 2016 Mother Teresa was canonized as Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Today, Mother Teresa is remembered for her example of selfless missionary work. Her gentle spirit that happily lived and served the downtrodden still moves people to be more like Jesus Christ.
There are many amazing Mother Teresa quotes, but one that sums up her life, identity, and mission is, “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.”
How to Teach Your Kids About Mother Teresa’s History
Now that you know all about the sainthood of Mother Teresa, you probably want to tell your kids about her! While we don’t have a specific study about her, there are plenty of teaching methods we use that you can adopt.
You probably know that we’re big fans of Charlotte Mason, a British educator who believed that a child is a person and should be educated as a whole person.
Learning about Mother Teresa is the perfect opportunity to use Charlotte Mason’s teaching method. Not only can you teach your child the history of Mother Teresa, but you can encourage them to commit small acts of kindness every day just like she did.
In addition, you can try using creative writing newspapers where your child can write a news article pretending they’re a news reporter who is writing a story on Mother Teresa.
Dress-up is also a fun way for your kids to play and act as if they are Mother Teresa herself, healing the sick (the dog), or feeding the hungry (their little sister or brother).
Go Out and Raise Little Mother Teresa’s!
We know that raising the next Mother Teresa is a big calling, but simply teaching your children about her good works toward mankind and encouraging them to do the same can do wonders.
After all, not all of us are called to be Abraham Lincoln or Geroge Washington, but we can make small differences in our communities by showing love and kindness – a calling God has for each one of his children.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. And don’t forget to share it on Facebook so that all of your friends and family can learn about the history of Mother Teresa!