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  • Rev. Timothy E Byerley, Ph.D

Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Updated: Apr 9

On Sunday, September 4, 2016, Pope Francis canonized Mother Teresa. Many of us knew her and her work.

Recall that she was born in Albania in 1910. She joined the Sisters of Loreto in 1928, and was sent to Calcutta, India to teach at a school for the upper-class. On September 10, 1946 she had a vision of Jesus on the cross. He said to her, “I thirst”. Other interior visions and messages from the Lord followed.

In one vision, St. Teresa saw a great crowd of people covered in darkness calling out to her, “Come… bring us to Jesus!” She understood that she was being asked to satiate Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls by serving those living in the darkness of poverty and despair.

One year later she received permission from her superiors to leave her convent and become the first Missionary of Charity. She spent the rest of her life bringing the light and love of Christ to the poor, the abandoned and the unloved.

In 1950, the Missionaries of Charity were canonically approved. Mother Teresa’s work and notoriety grew rapidly. In 1963 she founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers. In 1979 she received the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1984 she founded the Missionaries of Charity Fathers.

When Mother Teresa died there were 1,000 Missionaries of Charity. Today there are 5,000 in 139 countries.

She used to say, “You can find Calcutta anywhere. Who needs a smile? In your family, for your husband, your wife, your child, your neighbor… Let us keep the joy of loving Jesus in our hearts and share this joy with all we meet.”

St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!

Fr. Tim Byerley


Excerpt from a letter of Mother Teresa to her Archbishop about her inspiration to dedicate her life to the poor:

“In all my prayers and Holy Communions He is continually asking, “Wilt thou refuse? When there was a question of thy soul I did not think of Myself but gave Myself freely for thee on the Cross, and now what about three? Wilt thou refuse? I want Indian nuns, victims of My love, who would be Mary and Martha, who would be so very united to Me as to radiate My love on souls. I want free nuns covered with My poverty of the Cross. – I want obedient nuns covered with My obedience on the Cross. I want full of love nuns covered with My charity of the Cross. – Wilt thou refuse to do this for Me?”

My own Jesus – what You ask it is beyond me – I can hardly understand half of the things You want – I am unworthy – I am sinful – I am weak. – Go Jesus and find a more worthy soul, a more generous one.

“Little one, give Me souls. – Give Me the souls of the poor little street children. – How it hurts, if you only knew, to see these poor children soiled with sin. – I long for the purity of their love. – If you would only answer and bring Me these souls – draw them away from the hands of the evil one. If you only knew how many little ones fall into sin every day. There are plenty of nuns to look after the rich and well to do people – but for My very poor, there are absolutely none. For them I long – them I love. Wilt thou refuse?”

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