Missionaries of Charity

Missionaries of Charity is founded by Blessed Theresa of Kolkatta.  She was born on 26th August, 1910, to Albanian parents, Drana, her mother and Nicholas, her father.  They named her Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu.  Drana had great influence on her daughter’s life, especially on her religious practices.  Another influence on her life was her home town parish of the Sacred Heart.  She was the member of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Their main activity was learning about the lives of Saints and missionaries and reading the letters of Croation priests working in the mission stations.  The Sodality itself made a prayer group to pray for the missions in India.  These created in her a deep desire to be a missionary in India.  With this desire in heart, she asked a priest working in Bengal about the religious working in the same area.  He introduced to her, the sisters of the Institute of Blessed Virgin Mary known as Loretto Sisters.

At the age of 18, with the advice of her mother, “Put your hand in hand and walk all the way with Him”, she leaves for Dublin to begin her formation.  She spends three weeks there learning English.  Then she traveled to India with three Franciscan sisters by ship.  On 6th Jan 1929, they reached Kolkata the capital of Bengal.  Then she was sent to Darjeeling, for her noviate 24th May, 1921.  Agnes Gonxha, took her first vows taking the name Sister Theresa, Saint Theresa of Child Jesus, her patron saint whom she loved and followed in her little ways.  Saint Theresa back in Kolkatta, Loretto Convent teaching in school.  On May 14th 1937, Sister Theresa took her final vows.  She became the principal of St. Marys school run by the daughters St. Ann, a diocesan order founded by the sisters of Loretto for the Bengali girls.

In 1940, India was going through terrible violence.  So much destruction of human lives and starvation.  During this time Sister Theresa had to ciome out of her convent girls to look for food for boarding girls who were under her care.  She came out and got what she wanted.  After these struggles, Sister Theresa went to Darjeeling for her annual retreat.  On 10th Septemeber 1946, on her train journey, she receives a call within a call, to leave all and follow Jesus into the slums to serve him in the poorest of the poor.  On her return, she confers with her Spiritual Director, the inspiration she received and the thoughts and inspirations she had during the retreat.  After much prayers and reflections, she wrote to her Mother General, Bishop and Holy Father for the permission to give the call she recived during her train journey.  After much waiting, she receives the answer from Pope Pius XII to leave Loretto and give her call within her call.  Then she went to the Holy Family Hospital in Patna to learn basic medicines and first aid.  On her return to Kolkatta, she stayed with the Little Sisters of the Poor.  Before beginning her new mission, she made a short retreat under the guidance of Father Van Exam.

On 21st December, 1948, Mother began her work in Motijheel slums where her students and members of Sodality visited the poor families.  She gathered a few children around, and with a stick wrote the Bengali alphabets on the ground and taught the children.  Her students started to join her in her work of love.  One of the first students to join Mother was Subhashini Das.

Sister Agnes, M.C., who died in 1997.

As the student started to join her, she needed to look for a house.  A good hearted man Mr. Michael Gomes gave her an entire second floor of his house for Mother Theresa on 7th  October, 1950.  The Society of Missionaries of Charity came into existence.  The decree  of erection was heard in the chapel of the house of Mr. Michael Gomes.  As the number increased they were in need of a bigger place.  After a long search, they found the present mother house at 54, A. J. C. Bose Road.  On February 1953, they moved to Mother House.

On her way to her apostolate, Mother found a dying person eaten by rats, on the road side.  She took her to the nearest government hospital but the doctors refused her.  Till then she had no home for such people.  In her search for a home, there was an inn attached to the Kali temple, used for the pilgrims who came for the worship to stay and take rest.  The temple authorities gave this inn for the use of Mother, but Mother had to face opposition from the temple priests,  until the priest was dying of cholera.  Mother took care of him in this inn.  The home is known as Nirmal Hriday (Pure Heart).

In 1955, mother opened a home for the abandoned and crippled children.  No one should die alone and uncared for.

Mother’s next venture was to do something for the people suffering from leprosy.  She opened a home and rehabilitation centre for lepers in Titegarh, till today the saris every sister wears are made by the leprosy patients in Titegarh.

On 25th March, 1963, Mother together with Brother Andrew, male branch of the Missionaries of Charity, known as Misssionaries of Charity-Brothers.  They do the same work as the Sisters for Men.  On 1st February, 1965 confirming and reinforcing the erection already made and raising the Society to pontifical stauts.  The decree of praise was granted by His Holiness Pope Paul VI.

On 25th June, 1976, contemplative branch of Missionaries of  Charity Sisters established in New York.  On 19th March 1979,  contemplative branch of the brothers established in Rome.  On 31st Oct. 1984, foundation of missionaries of Chairty together with Father Joseph.  The M.C. family has spread throughout the whole world, satiating   the thirst of Jesus in the poorest of the poor.

Asha Daan came into existence on 8th Jan 1976.  It was the fruit of the meeting of two people – Mother Theresa and Mr. Thomas, the then Chairman of Hindustan Lever Limited.  Mr. Thomas the Chairman of Hindustan Lever, Mumbai had not seen Mother Theresa but had heard about her and the work she and her Sisters do in many places.  Hindustan Lever was going through a diffcult time.  The Chairman called all the branch managers at a meeting.  Their main topic at the meeting was to do something for the poor.   The decision they took was their product gave to Mother Theresa at a reasonable rate and also find out about Mother and her work amongst the poor through their branch Managers in Kolkatta.  They were satisfied with the reply from the managers in Kolkatta.  In 1974, Mr. Thomas met Mother in Kolkatta and he was amazed and impressed by the work done there.  Mother told Mr. Thomas, we have no home in Mumbai city.  One fine day Mr. Thomas, received a call from Mother.  By then Hindustan Lever had decided to hire a city a godown outside the city.  The weakened godown at Byculla can be used by Mother.  Mr. Thomas brought Mother to Byculla to see the godowns.  This was the place wanted by Mother.  First Mother was given only one godown and slowly as the work increased all the godowns were given.  Now 37 years past Aasha Daan is caring for the destitute men and women picked up and brought by the police.  Many have found solace in their last moments.  Each of the patients came and died here.  Given their respective burials, for Hindus cremation, for Muslims a Muslim burial and for Catholics a Catholic burial.  Many have been joined to their families after they recover from their sickness.  They were able to tell about their families.  Many have stayed with us and helped us in our work of love.  Children who are mentally and physically challenged have been sent to different school and vocational centres. They have given better training, recreational and medical facilites.

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