227: The Self-Empowered Woman: Mother Teresa

Dear Followers,

Due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, I was unable to make a Facebook posting for Mother Teresa’s birthday on August 26th. So, for my penance, I have decided to create a Self-Empowered Woman blog for today (September 5th, 2015), which is the 18th anniversary of her death. At the time, the world was in mourning for Princess Diana, whose funeral took place on September 6th, 1997.

Mother Teresa (whose birthname was Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu) was born in what is today known as Macedonia, but was then considered part of the Ottoman Empire, on August 26, 1910. Her father died when she was eight years old (1: No Paternal Safety Net), and her Albanian family was deeply religious. In fact, her favorite childhood book was “Lives of the Saints” (3: Belief in the Unbelievable). By the time she was twelve years old, she was determined to become a missionary nun (2: An Early Sense of Direction), and after she left home to join the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland, she never again saw her mother or her sister (14: Selective Disassociation).

She was assigned to teach at a girls school in Calcutta, but the disparity between the very rich and the very poor disturbed her. When she asked to be relieved of her teaching duties so that she could live among the poor and care for them, her religious superiors refused to grant her permission. Two years later she decided to leave the convent (17: Dreaming Your Own Dream), and begin her work taking care of “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the leapers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for.” In 1950, the Vatican gave her permission to start the Missionaries of Charity (8: Turning No Into Yes), and she began her work with thirteen other members. By the time of her death, her organization had over 4,000 sisters, a brotherhood of 300, and it operated 610 missions in 123 countries.

Mother Teresa was fluent in five languages (Bengali, Albanian, Serbian, English and Hindi), but was criticized by many because of her anti-abortion belief (5: Life Is Not A Popularity Contest). In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded Nobel Peace Prize, and during her lifetime was named 18 times in the annual Gallup “Most Admired Man or Woman” poll (13: More Than Meets the Eye).

Obviously, this is a Self-Empowered Woman who deserves to be remembered—especially on her birthday. Mea Culpa…

About Marilyn Murray Willison

The author of six non-fiction books, Willison worked as Health and Fitness Editor at the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, and wrote book reviews, health, beauty, fashion, and travel articles on a regular basis for the Los Angeles Times. Her byline has appeared in a wide variety of American newspapers and magazines.