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"Do Small Things With Great Love"

One of the most famous 20th century missionaries to India was Mother Teresa, one of the most important humanitarians in history. Her real name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu and when she was eighteen she joined the Loretta Sisters, a group of Irish nuns, and moved to Calcutta, India. There she lived in a convent and worked at St. Mary’s High School for twenty years. Then she asked for permission to leave the convent and work among the poorest and sickest people in Calcutta, which she was granted. After moving into the slums, Bojaxhiu began creating open-air schools that she and volunteers would teach in. Then she and her team created orphanages, hostels, hospices, leper colonies, and centers for blind, elderly, and disabled people. In 1950 she started a new Catholic order, “The Missionaries of Charity”, whose purpose was to look after forgotten people, like she was already doing. However, there are some criticisms of her work.

Mother Teresa's homes for the sick and dying were criticized for their being unhygienic, having a lack of painkillers, and for baptizing people who did not want to be or who didn't understand it. Navin B. Chawla wrote responses to these claims, mainly stating that people were comparing her facilities to Western hospitals instead of Indian ones. Her facilities were clean and painkillers were banned in India. Mary Pierick, the current head of the Missionaries of Charity, also spoke about these criticisms. She pointed out that Mother Teresa created homes, not hospitals. They were places for the people not accepted by hospitals to heal spiritually and die with cleanliness and dignity. They took in men and women of all ages who were suffering from physical and mental ailments. Most of the nuns are not doctors or nurses and have little medical training, though it has been greatly improving. If someone is able to be healed then they send them to a hospital, but if not then they do their best to care for them. While the nuns do encourage forgiveness and promote Christianity, they do not force conversion on anyone. Both Chawla and Pierick state that Mother Teresa was able to perform these acts of kindness for the poor and sick because she saw each of them as Christ in suffering, and treated them as such.

The Missionaries of Charity, along with Co-Workers, a similar organization, have over one million members in over forty countries that care for the poor, elderly, alcoholics, refugees, and those affected by natural disasters, famine, and disease . Mother Teresa's work with the underprivileged is just one more reason why the world still needs missionaries.

August 26, 1910 (Skopje, North Macedonia) - September 5, 1997 (Calcutta, India)


Anderson, Gerald Harry. Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions. W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1999

Chawla, Navin B. “Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity: In Service of God and Humans.” The Indian Express, 14 Jan. 2022,

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Pentin, Edward. “Mother Teresa Saw Jesus in Everyone.” National Catholic Register, 30 Aug. 2016,

Rodriguez, Emily. “Mother Teresa.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 24 Aug. 2022,

Snow, Jackie. “As Mother Teresa Becomes a Saint, Controversies Linger.” Culture, National Geographic, 2 Sept. 2016,



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