Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Nalini Nathan from the Christian Network Against Caste Discrimination explains why St Teresa of Calcutta - Mother Teresa - is a saint close to her heart.

For this profile and reflection on the life of Mother Teresa – Saint Teresa of Calcutta – Nalini Nathan from the Christian Network Against Caste Discrimination explains why this much-loved saint is so close to her heart.


I’d like to share with you why St Teresa of Calcutta, affectionately known as Mother Teresa, has been a saint close to my heart.

First, I’ll share an overview of her life. Mother Teresa was born in Macedonia and was of Albanian heritage. Her father died when she was young and she was brought up by her devoutly religious mother. She entered religious life in 1928 in Ireland, and was sent by her order to India. It was there, while reflecting on the immense love that Jesus has for all of humanity, that she received the call to set up the Missionaries of Charity.

Thanks to God, through her effort, the Missionaries of Charity spread throughout India, Europe and Africa, eventually opening houses in Australia, the Middle East and America. By 1997, the year of her death, her sisters had established foundations in 123 countries. While Mother Teresa is famous for caring for the poor and marginalised, her Catholic witness goes much deeper.

She’s important to me as she offers a model of how to live an authentic Catholic life. The Apostle John wrote, “let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” In terms of racial justice, Mother Teresa embodied this so well.

Viewing her life through a truly Catholic lens, she was able to avoid the traps of tokenism, positive discrimination or tribal mentalities. She recognised the image of Christ in each person she encountered and appreciated that we not just connected as one human species, but that we are truly brothers and sisters and can love each other as sisters and brothers.

Mother Theresa’s faith and Catholic formation meant that she understood that each person had not just dignity, but infinite dignity. She was able to care for the whole person – their physical needs, their mental health and their spiritual health.

I am grateful to Mother Teresa for revealing Christ through her humility, and because she knew that we are in debt to those who suffer due to oppression, racism and marginalisation, when they are able to unite their suffering to that of Christ.

Mother Teresa never tried to be a saviour. Rooted in Christ she tried to live the life of a servant, letting God lead her in everything. The pillars of her daily life were prayer. She prayed in the morning, at midday, in the afternoon, evening and at night.

She reminds me of the life of Our Lady, our spiritual mother. Mother Teresa tried to live the life of a docile servant so that it was God that came first in all things.