Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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Missionaries Of Charity, Kolkata

Kolkata, West Bengal
The congregation founded by Blessed Teresa of Kolkata
8:00am -noon and 3:00pm -6:00pm (Thursday closed)
Best Time to Visit
Throughout the year
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Missionaries of Charity is a Roman Catholic religious order established in 1950. It was founded by Mother Teresa, an Albanian, dedicated herself to the service of mankind and served god amongst the poorest of the poor, sick and the dying for more than 50 years of her life.

Mother Teresa was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhin on 26th August 1910 in Skopje, now the capital of Macedonia to Albanian parents. Exposed early to prayer and service, she was deeply religious. At the age of 18, she left home for Dublin, Ireland, to join the Loretto abbey and become a nun of the Roman Catholic church. After a year in Ireland, she leaves to join the Loretto convent in the northeast Indian city Darjeeling, where she spends 17 years teaching and being the principal of St. Mary's high school in Calcutta.

With the permission of the Pope, she left the convent in 1948, exchanged her robes for a white sari with a blue border, and went to live in the Calcutta slums, where she began her work by caring for one dying person she found on the streets. The Missionaries of charity was officially established as a religious congregation for the Archdiocese of Calcutta in October 1950. 

Mother Teresa received several national and international awards for social service during her lifetime, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, the Magsaysay Award in 1962, the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971, and the John F. Kennedy International Award in 1971. Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997, at the age of 87 and her body was buried in the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Mother was beatified by Pope John Paul II at St. Peters square in Vatican, on October 19th 2003, seven years after her death. Henceforth the mother will be referred to as the The Blessed Teresa of Kolkata. 

Calcutta became the center of her humanitarian activities. Her first home was 'Nirmal Hriday' (pure heart) for the sick and the dying, and then ' Shishu Bhavan' for the disabled, orphaned and mentally retarded children, 'Shanti Nagar', a colony for lepers where they were cared for, they could learn a skill, build their own houses and could work on their own fields, AIDS hospices and so on. The first home outside India was founded in 1965 in Venezuela. Others were later opened in Italy, Tanzania, Australia, US, Communist Cuba, former Soviet Union etc. 

The organization devoted to the working for the destitute, now have more than 550 charity homes in over 120 countries. One can see many volunteers from across the world. A volunteer does not have to be Catholic, or even religious and also not required to join in the daily prayer and Mass at the Mother House. Prayer time is at 6 am and 6pm. The working days is six days a week and Thursday is a day of rest. The Volunteer work is divided into morning and afternoon shifts. One can work either or both. But there are certain homes strictly for male or female volunteers.

If a person wants to volunteer, one have to contact at the administrative centre for volunteers, Mother House (Ph: 033-22497115) . Registration time is at 3 pm (Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

Also volunteers can work for as many or few days. The work can be intense - with no previous experience. Works include everything from doing laundry and helping to clean a wound or carry a paralyzed woman to the bath. Breakfast for volunteers is available at the Mother House.

The Mother House houses a small museum, where her personal belongings such as books, rooms, cot etc. is well preserved. Admission is free. Visiting time is 8:00am -noon and 3:00pm -6:00pm (Thursday closed).

Now, this charitable organization consists of over 4,950 sisters around the world, working in 766 centers in 120 countries. Recently, German-born Sister Mary Prema has elected as the new superior general of the Missionaries of Charity (MC).