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Missionaries of Charity

Missionaries of Charity

Missionaries of Charity, an international organization to help the extremely poor. The Missionaries of Charity was founded in Calcutta on 7 October 1950 by Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, an Albanian and former Sister of Loreto, who became universally known as Mother Teresa.

In 1946 Sister Teresa, a geography teacher, was inspired to begin "a mission of compassion and love to the poorest of the poor…." In the 1950s and 1960s, many young women joined the congregation, which spread to Darjeeling, in Bengal; Goa; and Trivandrum, in Kerala, among other places throughout India. On 1 February 1965, when the Holy See accepted the congregation as one of pontifical right, there were over three hundred sisters. Their first overseas mission was to Cocorote, Venezuela, on 26 July 1965. The sisters opened houses for the destitute, day-care centers, and soup kitchens in Haiti, Peru, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil in the 1970s, and in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador, as well as in the Caribbean in Trinidad, Grenada, Jamaica, and Guyana, in the 1980s.

In 1979 Mother Teresa of Calcutta was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her promotion of peace "in the most fundamental manner, by her confirmation of the inviolability of human dignity." Lay workers who shared the vision of Mother Teresa were organized into the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa in 1954, and the Missionaries of Charity Brothers was founded in 1963. Lay workers and religious serve the poorest of the poor and visit the lonely, the rejected, the aged, and the shut-ins. In the early 1990s, the Missionary Sisters of Charity numbered over four thousand in 450 houses in more than ninety countries. During the same period, houses were opened in Russia and China.

See alsoCatholic Church: The Modern Period .


Desmond Doig, Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work (1976).

Eileen Egan, Such a Vision of the Street: Mother Teresa, the Spirit and the Work (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Teresa, Mother, and Lucinda Vardey. A Simple Path. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.

                     Sister M. Noel Menezes R.S.M.

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