Mission years

Missionaries of charity
During her stay at Darjeeling, while recuperating her mind worked out her future plan. The idea of the ‘Missionaries of Charity’, an organisation dedicated to the care of the poorest, sick and abandoned took shape in Mother Teresa’s mind.
She returned to Calcutta with a new resolve and clear cut plan.
Without wasting time she took two important steps. The first was to write to the Pope of Catholic Church, Vetican, outlining her concepts of the Missionaries of Charity, organisation and sought the permission to leave the Loretto Order to give a concrete shape to her dream.
Vetican had no objection. Mother Teresa received the latter of formal permission from Vetican in August, 1948. She was ready to leave the Convent and start her own charity mission.
Soon after getting the letter and controlling her initial excitement, she went to the convent chapel to pray to God and seek his blessings.
After that Mother Teresa took along a Sister and went to the market to select her future dress. She opted for a very simple coarse cloth saree that had two blue bands border.
It was infact the uniform of Calcutta Municipal sweeperesses, the most humble and lowly considered class in Indian society.
She wanted to be identified with the poorest of the poor and the humblest of the land to serve whom her mission would dedicate itself to. A set of three sarees was purchased. It was the first time that the dress worn by the native women was chosen by a Christian Mission for its Sisters.
On the 17th of the same month of August, Mother Teresa went to Father V. Axom accompanied by the Sister Superior with the set of the sarees. The sympathetic Father had already been briefed about the mission of Mother Teresa. It was at his suggestion that Mother Teresa had sent the application to Vetican.
Mother Teresa bent down and her hands extended the sarees towards him. Father V. Axom blessed the sarees as the Sister Superior burst into tears overwhelmed by the touching gesture. Emotions didn’t overpower Mother Teresa because she knew that her mission would be a daunting one.
Then, the three bent down and prayed.
Mother Teresa had some papers too in her hand. The papers outlined the aims and objectives of her proposed ‘Missionaries of Charity’ and her resolve to serve the poorest and the suffering. Father Axom blessed those papers as well.
In her Mission’s rules, Mother Teresa had stipulated that the Sisters would wear the same humble dress she had chosen. The living would be simple Indian.
The menu would consist of rice-dal, sabzi and curd. True to her resolve Mother Teresa applied these rules strictly in all her Missions and Homes when her organisation spread its wings.
She had physically and spiritually Indianised herself totally. Whenever anyone raised any question about the genuineness of her Indian nationality she would proudly retort, “I am Indian by choice but you are an Indian by accident.”
Before taking leave of the Convent, Mother Teresa put on one of the sarees she had bought. In that dress no inmate of the Convent could recognise her except the few Sisters who knew the plot. The Sisters and the students of the school were used to see Mother Teresa in her graceful costly and immaculate convent dress.
But that day she was a different picture. A nondescript figure in cheap blue bordered saree and rubber chappals in her feet deserved only some dismissive glances. Those who knew looked at the departing figure with tears of sadness in their eyes and some apprehension in hearts.
One of the school days’ favourite and social works enthusiast student, Miss Subhasini Das followed her revered teacher trying to control her sobs. This student had now more respect for her teacher than before. She knew the challenging task the teacher had dared to undertake.
So, on the evening of 18th August 1948, Mother Teresa formally resigned from the Loretto Order Convent and departed to guide her own destiny. The act was repetition of what Saint Teresa of Carmel Convent had done 400 years ago in Spain.
The only possessions Mother Teresa walked away with were a cheap wooden box in her hand and only five rupees in her pocket. The box contained her two spare sarees, some papers and a framed picture of Virgin Mary.
To serve the poor in India it was imperative for one to have some training in first aid and nursing because the poor invariably suffered from some disease or the other. She realised it while rendering service to the sick in her earlier social work outings. She had come into contact with a missionary medical help teem when she took an abandoned sick man to them. With their help Mother Teresa got transported to Patna to get training in nursing courtesy Holy Family Hospital.
After doing a three month crash course in the first aid and nursing she returned to Calcutta.

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