Mother Teresa 1910-1997

By in Leadership


Light and darkness in love-by Karla Acosta, Wagner College Class ’16

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go”.- Mother TeresaMother Theresa advocated that each person give a little, with love, rather than just giving money to charity. As a community, we should support each other to grow and work together to make a bigger change by taking action on the issues they are facing as a whole.

One of the things I admire most about Mother Teresa was the way she lived her life peacefully, spreading love, and how she made small changes to be able to see big changes.  When she won the Nobel Peace Prize, she said, “What can we do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family”. This last quote shows how she truly believed that to make big changes, there has to be small changes first. Mother Teresa gave love and didn’t want anything in return. One has to have love to be able to give love, and one has to be at peace with himself and his loneliness, to be able to give love. It’s important to love ourselves, before we can start loving someone else, and stop judging to understand, love, discover and really get to know the people that surrounds us and bring peace and tolerance in the world.

Early life:

Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, Serbia on the 26th of August 1910 with the birth name  Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu.  Raised as a Roman Catholic, she became interested in stories of missionaries and decided she was going to commit herself to a religious life. When Agnes  was 18 years old, she went away from home to join the Sisters of Loreto.  She never saw her mother and sister ever again. That is when the life as a missionary started for Mother Teresa. She started teaching, she became a nun and then she decided to go to Calcutta in India to help the people that were living in very difficult circumstances.


1.“Call within the call”: In 1946 , while traveling by train to the Loreto convent in Darjeeling from Calcutta for her annual retreat, she had an epiphany. “I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith.” This all happened, because of the circumstances she saw the poor people lived in. That is she decided she was going to be living among the people and leave the convent. She felt that if she lived with them, she was going to help them more and she was going to really understand the situation they were living in. All of this happened in 1948, that’s when she started her missionary work. Before she started building houses for the people in need, she had to have a basic medical training. As soon as she was done, she went to Calcuta and opened a school for the people in starvation. That’s when she gained more support from other women who became interested in the work that she was doing.  Also, important people in India became aware of her projects and showed appreciation for the amazing that she was doing for the poor people in Calcutta.

2. Misionaries of Charity: It began with only 13 members in Calcutta; by 1997 it had grown to more than 4,000 sisters running orphanages, AIDS hospices and charity centers worldwide, and caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless, and victims of floods, epidemics, and starvation. Her biggest project was the Missionaries of charity. She had to receive  a permission first to open it, this was in 1950. The goal of the Missionaries of charity was to help “ 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, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone”. At first there were only small amount of people working for the Missionaries of charity, but it started to grow. In 1977 there were about 4,000 sisters helping with the orphanages, hospices for AIDS and centers for charity all over the world. It also helped refugees, the blind, disabled, alcoholics, elderly, poor, victims from natural disasters, and diseases. Some of the hospicies she opened around the world besides India were in Venezuela,  Rome, Tanzania, Austria, Asia Africa, Europe and the United States.

3. Siege of Beirut: In 1982 Mother Teresa accompanied by Red cross workers, she traveled through war zone and saved 37 children, while the Palestinian guerrillas and Israeli army were in war.  When the walls of Eastern Europe collapsed, she expanded her efforts to Communist countries that didn’t accept the Missionaries of Charity, staring on many projects. She was very strong with the criticism about her firm stand against abortion and divorce stating, “No matter who says what, you should accept it with a smile and do your own work.”Mother Teresa traveled to help the hungry in Ethiopia, radiation victims at Chernobyl, and earthquake victims in Armenia. She stayed strong. That is when she started to receive the criticism by the media, and as a result she started to become more internationally known.

Leadership skills:

Experience and be part of the community. That was the main goal of Mother Teresa, that is how she started everything. She was always giving love, she was doing physical work, and she payed attention to every little detail to the struggles of the people in need. She was always there, she was always doing, and she was always giving. One of the reason why Mother Teresa was giving all the time was because she was a person that lived very closed to God. That was a good thing, but also a bad one. The good part was that she had the tolerance and patience to help others. The bad one was how she  saw suffering. She thought that suffering would bring people closer to Jesus, and the Homes for the dying was criticized because they reuse of needles, poor living conditions and the approach to illness and suffering. I personally think that suffering helps a person learn more about themselves and it makes them analyze things more. Suffering is a good thing, depending on the type of suffering the person is going through.


Mother Teresa was a person that was always giving. Mother Teresa always did her work with love and with her heart. If you don’t do the things with your heart they don’t mean anything. That is why Mother Teresa believed that even if you gave a little, it was enough if you did it with your heart and love. That’s the main lesson she showed and left for the world to learn. She was a gentle and soft leader, but showed her strength in never giving up and not only helping people in India but all around the world. That proves that if you give a little with heart and love, little by little that action is going to help the people in your community and maybe all around the world. Big changes require small actions.

How can I relate: 

This lessons I learned in my class of Reflective Tutorial, because even though we weren’t able to finish our first project of “Lead and arsenic in Veteran’s Park”, we were able to change to a new project and help a little bit more. The help wasn’t given to the whole New York State, but at least we were able to help a small portion of Port Richmond comunity by sorting needs of the people that lost almost everything in hurricane Sandy. I never thought I’ll could be a leader, because I’m shy and like to be behind the scenes, but all the experiences I had during this semester helped me see that by having a good support group, being opened and listening; Anything is possible.    


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