Blog Post

Mother Teresa Never Celebrated her Birthday

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist While a grateful mankind celebrated the 100th birthday of one of the greatest humanitarians who ever lived, members of the Missionaries of Charity said their foundress, Mother Teresa, preferred to celebrate the day of her baptism instead. Celebrations marking the centenary of Mother Teresa took place throughout the world on Thursday, August 26, from Calcutta, India to her birthplace in Skopje, Macedonia, and dozens of other cities. In New York, the occasion was marked by controversy over a decision by the administrators of the Empire State Building to deny an honorary lighting of the tower for Mother Teresa even though they were willing to do so to mark the occasion of the Communist takeover of China earlier this year. Behind the scenes, however, members of Mother Teresa's community say if she were still alive, she would not have celebrated her 100th birthday because the day of her baptism was more important to her. Born on the 26 of August, she was baptized the following day, which was why everyone close to her believed the 27th of August was her birthday. "Everybody thought she was born on the 27th, which was her baptism date," Sr. Elia, who works in the office for the canonization of Mother Teresa, told the Catholic News Agency (CNA). But either date is important to celebrate, Sister said because " . . .(I)t shows that life and what you make of your life comes from God. That you can see in Mother." In spite of Mother Teresa's preference, August 26 is the day assigned by her order in Rome to mark the occasion of her birth and "to give honor and glory to God." Many of the Missionaries of Charity (MC) sisters and brothers based in Rome came together at San Lorenzo in Damaso Church on the 26th to mark the joyous occasion at Mass and later at the inauguration of a new exhibit documenting the life of Mother Teresa. Sr. Elia explained that the order prepared the celebration "with great joy to give honor and glory to God, but the rest is actually to deepen our spirit, so that we are more faithful to the spirit that Mother left behind. "That's actually how we are trying to live (the day)," she said, "and really to follow Jesus more closely and to be more dedicated to what he has called us to do." She went on to say that everyone has the same graces that were offered to Mother Teresa, "the same Eucharist, the same Jesus, the same call," and everyone is able to make a difference. Of the centenary celebration, she concluded, "it's not so much remembering the person that left," rather, it's about the fact "that you and I have the same call, the same God, the same grace and you can do something good for God, to do small things." As for Mother Teresa's cause for canonization, Sr. Elia said, "keep praying for a miracle." © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®