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Mother Teresa finds prominence among Balkans

Oct. 3, 2013

Blessed Teresa of Kolkata is all set to come alive in her home town. The prime minister of Macedonia has decided to name Balkan region's longest and most important highway after the founder of Missionaries of Charity. As part of the government's plan to familiarize people of the entire region with Mother Teresa - who was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje on August 26, 1910 with her family being of Albanian descent, Bronze plaques with her teaching are being drilled into prominent buildings and busy side walks across town. The government is also giving thought to a proposal whether Mother Teresa's picture can be put on the currency note.

A massive 60 feet statue of the greatest humanitarian of modern times is also coming up in one of the city's main boulevards, thanks to Sahara chief Subrata Roy. Roy who has known Mother Teresa since the 1990s has set plans rolling to construct an entire square in the Macedonian capital with a gigantic statue of her in the middle of it. Roy envisages making Skopje a "mecca for all Mother Teresa followers" who are keen to trace back her life, starting from the house she was born. Roy is also building a massive home for the destitute that would accommodate 300 sick, needy and the downtrodden in Skopje. According to Roy, the present head of the Missionaries of Charity will be invited to take a look at the new home meant for those Mother Teresa cared for most.

In an exclusive interview to TOI, prime minister of Macedonia Nikola Gruevski said, "We are engraving some of Mother Teresa's best quotes and teaching in bronze plaques and setting them up in busy streets and prominent buildings so that everyone passing by can learn something from them every day. We have already installed 17 such plaques across Skopje and in the next one month will install 22 more. We will do the same in other cities of Macedonia." Mr Gruevski added to TOI, "One of the region's most important highways - as long as about 300 kms is being named after Mother Teresa. It connects Bulgaria to Skopje and stretches further top connect with Albania. Some part of it already exists, the rest we are constructing which should end by 2017. We have named Macedonia's most advanced and primary health clinic after Mother Teresa. We already have a memorial house after her. Mother Teresa will become the new symbol of Macedonia. Her followers come from across the world and everyone knows her, even in Middle Eastern countries."

Mr Gruevski recalled an incident when a state visit of his to Qatar - a Muslim country saw the minister for energy there recognise him as someone who came from Mother Teresa's hometown. According to the Nobel Institute that awarded Mother Teresa the Nobel peace prize, Mother Teresa felt a strong calling from God at the age of 12 and knew she had to be a missionary to spread the love of Christ. At the age of 18, she left her parental home in Skopje and joined the sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India. After a few months' training in Dublin she was sent to India, where on May 24, 1931, she took her initial vows as a nun. From 1931 to 1948 Mother Teresa taught at St Mary's High School in Kolkata, but the suffering and poverty she glimpsed outside the convent walls made such a deep impression on her that in 1948 she received permission from her superiors to leave the convent school and devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of the city of joy. Recalling his association with Mother Teresa, Subrata Roy, the chief of Sahara to an exclusive interview with TOI said, "In another eight months, the massive statue of Mother Teresa will stand in the centre of Skopje. It will be the city's major tourist attraction and a Mecca for Mother Teresa followers. I had known and interacted with her very closely and no words can describe her dedication. During her life she never asked anything from me, just sometimes would call me to donate clothes for the sick and needy".

Mother Teresa was declared for an honorary citizen in Skopje which she visited four times since she left in a humanitarian mission for support of the hungry and abandoned: in 1970, 1978, 1980 and 1986. A small monument presently stands near the place where her parents' house was - a square called Makedonija. A museum after Mother Teresa stands at the exact place the old Catholic Church "Sacred heart of Jesus" used to stand. This is where the Mother as a child was baptized on August 27, 1910 - a day after her birth. It was on 7, 1950 that Mother Teresa received permission from the Holy See to start her own order, The Missionaries of Charity, whose primary task was to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after. In 1965 the Society became an International Religious Family by a decree of Pope Paul VI. Mother Teresa's work has been recognised and acclaimed throughout the world and she has received a number of awards and distinctions, including the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (1971) and the Nehru Prize for her promotion of international peace and understanding (1972).

She also received the Balzan Prize (1979) and the Templeton and Magsaysay awards. She died on September 5, 1997.

Source: UCAN

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