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Mother Teresa – II: a ‘Call within a Call’

Welcome to our special program on the Year of Faith, THE FAITHFUL WITNESS, a series on the lives of Inspiring People and Witnesses of faith in the Catholic Church from around the world. These are people who lived their ordinary lives in extraordinary ways. They are examples of great fortitude and virtue. Their unique stories inspire us to be rooted in our faith. God calls each one of us today to inspire our brothers and sisters and to be witnesses of our faith.
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The Faithful Witness of this week is Blessed Teresa of Kolkata. In this month of September, hundreds of thousands of people converge on the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity in the Indian city of Kolkata, to pay homage to its founder, Mother Teresa of Calcutta. People from all walks of life streams into her tomb in the mother house to pray to her.
Mother Teresa left a testament of unshakable faith, invincible hope and extraordinary charity. Her response to Jesus’ plea, “Come be My light,” made her a Missionary of Charity, a “mother to the poor,” a symbol of compassion to the world, and a living witness to the thirsting love of God.
Pope John Paul II beatified her on 19th October 2003, just six years after her death. Last week we listened to the Early years of Mother Teresa. Today let us listen to her continuous journey in the path God had shown her, what she called a ‘call within a call’.xxx
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the tiny woman recognized throughout the world for her work among the poorest of the poor, was born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia. Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was the youngest of the three children who survived. For a time, the family lived comfortably, and her father's construction business thrived. But life changed overnight following his unexpected death.
During her years in public school Agnes participated in a Catholic sodality and showed a strong interest in the foreign missions. At the age of 18 she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin.

Mother Teresa spoke about her religious vocation and early years with the Loreto sisters.
Insert: voice of Mother Teresa

In 1928 she said goodbye to her mother for the last time and made her way to a new land and a new life. The following year she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India. There she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service. She was assigned to a high school for girls in Calcutta, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy. But she could not escape the realities around her—the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming numbers of destitute people.

In 1946, while travelling in a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat, Sister Teresa heard what she later explained as “a call within a call. The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.” She also heard a call to “follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.”

After receiving permission to leave Loreto, she established a new religious community and undertook her new work, she took a nursing course for several months. She returned to Calcutta, where she lived in the slums and opened a school for poor children. Dressed in a white sari and sandals, the ordinary dress of an Indian woman, she soon began getting to know her neighbors—especially the poor, the sick, and their needs.

Mother Teresa spoke about her first contact with the poor and the dying during an interview in 1974.
Insert: voice of Mother Teresa

The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long. Volunteers came to join her in the work, some of them her former students. They became the core of the Missionaries of Charity. Others helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, the use of buildings. In 1952 the city of Calcutta gave Mother Teresa a hostel of the famous Kali Temple, which became a home for the dying and the destitute.
Mother Teresa said about the new home
Insert: voice of Mother Teresa

As the Order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging and the people living in streets.
For the next four decades Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor. Her love knew no bounds. Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. She said:
Insert: voice of mother Teresa
You have been listening to THE FAITHFUL WITNESS our weekly series based on the lives of Inspiring People and Witnesses of faith in the Catholic Church from around the world. Our Faithful Witness today has been Blessed Teresa of Kolkata. If you have a faith experience to share with us, let us know. Visit our website radiovaticana.va. This program is brought to you by Vatican Radio’s English Service for South Asia. By P.J. Joseph SJ
FRIDAY, 13 September 2013


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