Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., has shared this message on the 25th anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

It has been twenty-five years since the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta died on September 5, 1997.  She was, without a doubt, one of the most well-known religious women of the 20th century.  Easily recognizable in her white and blue sari and veil, usually clutching a rosary in her wrinkled hands, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity in India in 1950 to serve “the poorest of the poor.”  At a time when numbers are diminishing in religious orders of women, Mother Teresa’s sisters now serve in 139 countries, numbering over 5,100 members.  

Mother Teresa and her Missionaries walked fearlessly among the poorest and most abandoned, caring for the homeless, refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, addicted, AIDS patients, orphans, the uneducated, victims of natural disasters, lepers and diseases of every kind.  She lived in abject poverty and insisted her Missionaries do the same, refusing comfort and modern conveniences offered to her.  Despite her profound humility, Mother Teresa was as comfortable among the world’s celebrities drawn to her deep faith and unrelenting commitment to serving the poor as she was among the poor and the sick.  In 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Following her death in 1997, efforts to promote her canonization began almost immediately.  She was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 2003 and canonized by Pope Francis in 2016.  Her feast day is September 5.

Mother Teresa visited the Diocese of Trenton in 1995 with over 10,000 of the clergy, religious and faithful gathered to catch a glimpse of her and hear her words.  Five Missionaries of Charity currently live in Asbury Park, serving the poor, elderly and sick in the area as well as providing religious education to children.  St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish was formed in Avon by the Sea in 2018, merged from the area parishes of Ascension and St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

Mother, now St. Teresa of Calcutta, said so many memorable things throughout her 87 years on this earth, quotes worth remembering and even bringing to prayer.  This is one of my favorites:

People are often unreasonable and self-centered: forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives: be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you: be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous: be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow: do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough: give your best anyway.”

Mother Teresa has been the subject of many books, articles and essays. For those who are interested in learning more about her, Mr. James Towey, former cabinet member in the Bush administration and former President of Florida’s Ave Maria University, served as Mother Teresa’s lawyer, advisor and devoted friend and, this month, will release a new biography entitled “To Love and Be Loved: A Personal Portrait of Mother Teresa (Simon and Schuster).”