St. Teresa of Calcutta

Posted November 10, 2017 at 12:00 am

Baton Rouge was visited by Mother Teresa several times from 1985-1987 when she sought to establish her order, the Missionaries of Charity, in our city. Bishop Stanley J. Ott had written to Mother Teresa to request she open a House of Ministry to serve unwed mothers and their babies in Baton Rouge. She responded by sending four of her sisters to live in the convent at St. Agnes Church and minister to the “poorest of the poor with the greatest of love.”  

Mother Teresa arrived in Baton Rouge to much fanfare on June 26, 1985. She was greeted by Bishop Ott at the airport and then escorted to North Baton Rouge where she was in attendance for the dedication of the Hosanna House, a home for unwed mothers and their children where she declared that much good work was being done by the directors there. She then announced that her sisters would establish their ministry at St. Agnes where the facilities would best accommodate their mission. While in town she set to work getting her sisters settled in their new convent. Her last stop was an impromptu visit to the Louisiana Legislature where she addressed the state leaders and received a standing ovation.  

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Her second visit to Baton Rouge began with a trip to Cuba where she had received permission from Fidel Castro to open a home for the poor there. She arrived in Baton Rouge to check in on her sisters and visit with Bishop Ott and discuss the possibility of opening a shelter for the homeless. Word quickly spread that she was in town and people flocked to St. Agnes to catch a glimpse of the holy woman. Attendance at the 6 a.m. Mass the folllowind day was filled to capacity by those who wished to pray with her and hear her speak. She left Baton Rouge and traveled to Lafayette where she was greeted by 12,000 people in the Cajun Dome. She announced her intention to establish another House of Ministry for her sisters in Lafayette.  

Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhia in Albania in 1910, Mother Teresa made her vows in 1929 as a Sister of Loreto and took the name Teresa after St. Teresa of Lisieux. While on a train from Calcutta to Darjeeling in 1946 she heard an order from God to leave her convent and go and live and work among the poor. She received permission two years later from the Vatican and became the first Roman Catholic nun to live and work outside a convent in 300 years. She established her order, the Missionaries of Charity, in 1950. Her work for and among the poor earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Mother Teresa died in 1997 and was canonized by Pope Francis on Sept. 4, 2016.  

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The Missionaries of Charity continue the work started by St. Teresa in Baton Rouge at St. Agnes with a soup kitchen, a shelter for women and children and ministry to the women’s prison at St. Gabriel. The sisters seek to honor her mission to “Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”  

Boltin is the director of the Archives Department for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  

 

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