Born in 1910 in southeastern Europe, Agnes Gonxha always knew she wanted to serve in the Catholic Church. More than that, she wanted to go to India and be a missionary. She left home at the age of eighteen to train to be a nun and quickly was sent to India. When she took her vows, she chose the name Sister Teresa. In India, she worked in a Catholic school, working her way up to being the headmistress. But the school was behind walls, keeping out the poor and ill. Sister Teresa wanted to go beyond the walls to help those people. With the help of a priest, Father van Exem, she got permission to work in the slums. She was so successful, she not only inspired other young women to join her, but she formed her own religious order, the Missionaries of Charity. As head of the order, Sister Teresa became Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa had such faith and conviction that she built a huge organization. People always seemed to be lining up to help her. She died in 1997 leaving behind a thriving convent.
This is a manga for young children. The story is presented in a very upbeat manner, with Mother Teresa generally having a beatific look on her face at all times. The book definitely gives lots of credit for her success to her belief in God, implying that this is why so many events worked out in her favor. The chibi faces of disbelief on the people around her as everything works out in a fairly miraculous manner, is always entertaining.
This book skims the surface of her life and especially the surface of the history of India. It mentions events in passing, such as Gandhi and the struggle for Indian Independence, without any detail. But given its intended audience of younger children and its place as an introduction to Mother Theresa, the surface version of her life is fine. The goal here is to introduce a child to Mother Teresa and why we care about her, not discuss the ins and outs of international politics.
Mother Teresa: Modern Saint of the Poor
by Yoshihiro Takita
Art by Sayori Abe
Publisher Age Rating: for ages 8 – 12