J. Gregory Stewart
In the opinion of many people, the world's greatest and most honored humanitarian today is an eighty-seven-year-old nun known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, India. For at least seventy years, since the age of seventeen, she has totally devoted her life to charitable works.
Today mother Teresa and her associates have more than six hundred missions of charity in one hundred and twenty countries on five continents. These are staffed by several thousand nuns plus many other volunteers.
She has been chiefly responsible for establishing a number of medical centers to treat specific diseases. For example in 1964 she founded a leper colony in West Bengal. In 1985 she established a hospice for patients with AIDS in New York City. These are just two examples of many that could be mentioned.
Mother Teresa has traveled throughout the world giving humanitarian service. Her home base is in the huge city of Calcutta, India, where she has spent much of her life personally administering to the needs of the sick and the poor. Calcutta is where she established her first formal Mission of Charity. She worked for many years as the principal of a Roman Catholic high school. While she was principal of the high school she also spent many hours each week assisting people in need.
In 1948 Mother Teresa asked for and received permission from the
Pope to live outside of the convent and live with and serve the poor
in the streets of Calcutta. She spent three months at Patna Holy
Family Hospital learning to be a nurse so she could know how to take
care of the poor who were sick.
Mother Teresa believed that the child is God's best gift to the family. She saw the many neglected and abandoned children in the slums of Calcutta and was determined to help by starting a school for them in the slums. This occurred in 1949. They didn't have any furniture, blackboards or chalk, but she was still able to teach the children to read and keep clean. Mother Teresa has also established orphanages to provide homes for children who have no parents to take care of them.
In 1952 she established in Calcutta a Nirmal Hriday ("Pure Heart") Home for Dying Destitutes. Calcutta had thousands of people who had no homes and no one to take care of them, to feed them, or to tend to their health problems. They were just lying in the streets waiting to die.
She is an inspiring teacher. Wherever she goes thousands of people flock to hear her. Many people have become involved in humanitarian service because of her influence.
In 1975 Mother Teresa authored and published a book entitled Gift from God in which she emphasized the importance of love as the greatest force for good in the world. It is because of her own deep love and compassion for people that she has devoted her life to helping those in need.
Fortunately her wonderful work has not gone unrewarded, although she herself would say that the greatest reward is in seeing the relief and joy her work has brought to the suffering. Among the many recognitions she has received was the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Others include: the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971, the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1972, and the American Presidential Medal of Freedom presented by President Ronald Reagan in 1985.
Mother Teresa was born in 1910 in the town of Skoplje, which at
that time was in Turkey, but later became part of Albania and still
later a part of Yugoslavia. While still in her teens she felt a great
desire to become a nun and devote her life to the service of others.
She received training in both Dublin, Ireland, and Darjeeling, India.
Eventually she took vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and service
to the poor.
At eighty-seven years of age she is in poor health, and yet maintains a work schedule such as others would find challenging in the prime of life. She retires at 2 a.m. and arises before 5 a.m.
Many of Mother Teresa's sayings are widely quoted. These are the precepts by which she has lived her life: "Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing." "The world today is hungry not only for bread but hungry for love; hungry to be wanted, to be loved." "We can do no great things; only small things with great love" (Latha, 1997).
Truly Mother Teresa has been a woman of great love.
Egan, Eileen. Such A Vision Of The Street. Garden City, New York: Doubleday , l985.
Lee, Betsy. Mother Teresa, Caring for all God's Children. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Dillon Press, Inc., 1949.
Vardey, Lucinda, compiler. Mother Teresa, A Simple Path. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.
Latha, Swana (1997) Internet Home Page [On-Line]. Available: http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~latha/teresa.html
Negri G., and Kramer, A., (l995) The Boston Globe Home Page [On Line]. Available: http://www.boston.com/globe/archives/nobel/1995/1995q.html
Warren, David (1995) Pioneer Home Page. [On-line]. Available: http://sbweb2.med.incnet.com/infotrac/session/9/0/ll63l09/12?xm_11
Time Allotment: Approximately a week and a half.
Map of the world
Guest speaker (a director of community services)