Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.
Mother Teresa was born Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Yugoslavia on August 27, 1910. Her father died when she was young, leaving her mother to care for her and her siblings. She was involved in the local church from a young age. When Mother Teresa was 18, she felt called to commit her life to the church as a nun and a missionary. She moved to Dublin, Ireland to join the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. In 1929, she moved to Darjeeling, India. She made her vows in 1931 and became known as Sister Teresa.
For the next 15 years, Mother Teresa taught history and geography at St. Mary’s Bengali Medium School, a high school for girls in Calcutta. In 1946, she traveled from Calcutta to Darjeeling. On this trip, she received what she referred to as her “call within a call” to go work with the poor and destitute. For the next two years, she worked to leave her position with the Loreto Sisters and create her own community.
Our vocation is to belong to Jesus so completely that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. What you and I must do is nothing less than putting our love for Christ into practice. The important thing is not how much we accomplish, but how much love we put into our deeds every day. That is the measure of our love for God.
The Pope gave Mother Teresa permission to begin her own community in 1948. She started teaching an open-air school in the slums of Calcutta. Volunteers and help quickly found her and she was able to expand. In 1950, The Missionaries of Charity officially began.
In 1952, Mother Teresa opened her first home for the dying: she wanted to create a place for the poor to die with dignity. Her ministries quickly grew and by 1965 the first international house opened in Venezuela. By 1968, The Missionaries of Charity had houses in Europe and Africa. Her work continued to expand to every corner of the world. Mother Teresa’s community reached the sick, dying, poor, helpless, and suffering in all parts of the world.
We are called to be contemplatives in the heart of the world— by seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, everywhere, all the time, and his hand in every happening; seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.
For her work, Mother Teresa received many awards. She was given the Pope John Paul XXIII Peace Prize in 1971, the Nehru Prize in 1972, the Balzan Prize in 1979, and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. In 1985, she addressed the United Nations General Assembly. Later that year, she opened her first home specifically for AIDS patients. She traveled the world throughout her life, opening new houses, meeting people, speaking, and working with the poor and helpless.
Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997. At the time of her death, over 4,000 members worked in over 600 homes around the world. These ministries continue to work with those who need help most.
To show great love for God and our neighbor we need not do great things. It is how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God.