NAHC Honors Mother Teresa on her Canonization
September 2, 2016 01:32 PM
“The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” – Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
She was born Agnes Bojaxhiu to an Albanian family in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia on August 26, 1910, but the world came to know her as Mother Teresa of Calcutta. During her 87 years of life, Mother Teresa was the personification of caring and mercy for countless people of all faiths around the world.
On September 4, 2016 Mother Teresa will become a saint when she is canonized by Pope Francis in Rome. Beatified in October 2003, Mother Teresa’s ascension to sainthood is one of the swiftest in recent decades.
Even as a young girl, Mother Teresa knew she wanted to be a nun and serve the poor. Her dream came true in 1928 when she joined the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Sisters of Loreto, and was assigned to a convent in Calcutta (Kolkata.) In 1946 Mother Teresa received a vision from God, instructing her to create a religious order offering unconditional love to the poorest of the poor. That was the genesis of the Missionaries of Charity, a congregation of mercy that has grown to 5800 women and men in 139 countries.
“My community is the poor,” said Mother Teresa. “Their society is my own. Their heart is my own.” Determined to raise up even the most indigent, she told her followers: “Let no one come to us without feeling happy or better. Let them see the kindness in your face, in your eyes, and in your friendly greeting. Let us be of one heart, all love.”
Mother Teresa’s tireless and selfless devotion to serving the poorest among us eventually earned the attention of the world and in 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her lifetime of service.
However, humanitarian work alone, no matter how admirable, is insufficient for canonization. A candidate for sainthood must normally be associated with at least two miracles because a person worthy of sainthood must be someone who is actually in heaven with God, working on behalf of those in need of healing.
In the case of Mother Teresa, a man in Brazil with brain abscesses who awoke from a coma and a woman in India whose stomach tumor disappeared both credited prayers to Mother Teresa for their remarkable recovery.
Certainly, Mother Teresa has had a huge impact on the National Association of Home Care & Hospice. In 1985, NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris met Mother Teresa in 1985 when he presented a Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of NAHC and its related Foundation for Hospice & Homecare. Mother referenced her own hospice and home care in Calcutta, telling Halamandaris that “we are in the same business.”
Halamandaris says Mother Teresa told him there is a “poverty of the spirit in the U.S. and the western world that is far worse than the poverty of the body that is seen in the Third World,” earnestly poking a finger in his direction and directing him to “do something about it.”
As Halamandaris later wrote, “When a living saint gives you an order, it is hard to ignore.”
This conversation inspired the creation of The Caring Institute, a separate non-profit organization supported by NAHC and others which honors the most caring adults and young people in America. Caring, as Mother said, “is the most powerful force in the universe.” She said, “caring is love in action.”
“Mother Teresa was the quintessential home care and hospice nurse,” says Halamandaris. “She was always positive and tried to lift the spirits of others, especially those who were in pain and sorrow.” Mother Teresa’s life was an inspiration for all home care and hospice workers and NAHC honors her and her memory as she makes her final, inevitable journey to sainthood.