Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia, on August 26, 1910. She was of Albanian descent. Mother Teresa claimed that from the day of her First Communion she had a love for people’s souls in her heart. Her father died when she was just 8 years old, and this tragic event seems to have greatly influenced her life. Times were difficult for her family, financially. Her mother made the best of a bad situation and ran the household with a loving but firm hand. This served her well as life continued for Mother Teresa.
She became a missionary in the order of the Sister of Loreto, based in Ireland. At the age of 18 she found herself being sent to Calcutta and made her first vows as a postulate that same year. What she saw and experienced in Calcutta laid the basis for her entire life and her desire to serve the very, very poor in the streets of Calcutta.
By 1946, Mother Teresa was prepared to found her own order to serve the Catholic Church; the Missionaries of Charity were formed, and Mother Teresa’s work was underway. Her goal was to serve the poorest of the poor, and she found those souls in the ghettos on the streets of Calcutta. By the end of her life Mother Teresa was dealing with those everyone else had forgotten or given up on. On September 5, 1997, Mother Teresa died from failing heart, lung and kidney issues. She was so respected and revered by the Indian government that she was given a state funeral, and dignitaries from around the world attended.
Within two years of her death, Pope John Paul II allowed a Cause for Canonization to be opened in her name. Although this was quite early in the canonization process, so many favors had been attributed to her that John Paul II could see nothing better to do than begin the canonization process. The next steps of approving heroic virtues and miracles was completed in 2002. The final stage in the process, the decree of miracles, was completed in 2015 and on September 4, 2016 she was formally canonized a saint by Pope Francis. A fitting end to an extraordinary life.
Many see Mother Teresa as the best example of a worldly caregiver in the last 50 years. She gave of herself without any regard for her own safety and with no concern for her own well-being. As her own health began to fail she continued and never stopped to look back. She never stopped to ask God why, never questioned what she was doing and never questioned how she could continue to keep providing the care she gave to the poor of Calcutta. Some critics at times questioned Mother Teresa’s methods, but none questioned her motives. In the end, Mother Teresa is not just a shining example of a modern day saint; she is a shining example of a modern day caregiver.