A photojournalist's journey into the world of Mother Teresa
by Linda Schaefer
According to statistics maintained by the Catholic Church, there were 81,551 nuns working in the subcontent of India in 2000- more than those assigned to Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh put together. These numbers are even more interesting when one considers that Christians represent only ten percent of the religious population of India - and where Hindus constitute 806,366,000 and Muslims total 127,131,000.
Among those nuns active in India are the amazing Sisters who work with the Missionaries of Charity founded in 1949 by a frail, tiny woman, born Agnes Gonzha Bojazhu in Macedonia (now Yugoslavia) in 1910 and who the world today knows as Mother Teresa. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and recognized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II for performing a miracle - the first step toward sainthood, Mother Teresa dedicated her life to the comfort and care of the needy, sick and poor. The Pope waived the customary five year waiting period to begin the canonization process out of his deep admiration for her dedication to the destitute.
When Mother Teresa died at age 87 in 1997, she left behind a well-trained organization that today continues her work in countries around the world. Her order is the fastest growing throughout the Church. The work she performed, and that continues to be carried out by her Sisters, has been described as "heroic virtues" and the Missionaries of Charity are seen as a "world emblem of Christian charity." Once cleric described the depths of Mother Teresa's holiness by saying that it placed her among the ranks of the great mystics in the history of Christianity.
In 1995 a former photojournalist for CNN, Linda Schaefer, had a chance meeting with Mother Teresa during a visit to Atlantam Georgia. Schaefer, who was given an opportunity to do a photo story for the Cable News Network, decided to turn the assignment into an adventure-a journey into the world of Mother Teresa.
Copyright 2003 by Linda Schaefer
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