“You have received many things to guide you, protect you, to lead you in the right paths. Remember that it has been given to you, not to keep, but to share. The greatest grace: share gift.” This quote from Mother Teresa was made during her commencement address to the 1982 class of Niagara University. That same year, she would also deliver commencement speeches to Harvard University and Thomas Aquinas College.
Born in 1910 as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia, Mother Teresa felt called to serve her faith at a young age, becoming a nun at 18. For many years, she taught at St. Mary’s High School in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and later became the school’s principal. Drawn to help the sick and poor, she left to work in the Calcutta slums.
Mother Teresa’s humanitarian work led to her founding the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, establishing an open-air school, a home for the dying destitute, a leper colony, an orphanage, family and mobile health clinics, and a care facility for HIV/AIDS patients.
In recognition of her life’s work, Mother Teresa was awarded the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. Six years after her death in 1997, Pope John Paul II beatified her in 2003. In 2016, she was canonized by Pope Francis, becoming recognized by the Catholic church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.