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He is the Life that I want to live,
He is Light that I want to radiate.
He is the Way to the Father.
He is the Love with which I want to love.
He is the Joy that I want to share.
He is the Peace that I want to sow.
Jesus is Everything to me.
Without Him, I can do nothing.

I am Albanian by birth. Now I am a citizen of India.  I am also a Catholic nun.  In my work, I belong to the whole world.  But in my heart, I belong to Christ.

I was very young, no more than twelve years old, when, in the heart of my family, I first experienced the desire to belong completely to God. I thought and prayed about it for six years.

It was at the feet of our Lady of Letnice (in Skopje) where I first heard the divine call, convincing me to serve God and to devote myself to His service.  I remember the afternoon of her feast of the Assumption.  I was praying with a lighted candle in my hands and singing in my heart, full of joy inside, when I took the decision to wholly devote myself to God through religious life. 

Mine was a very happy and united family. Following my vocation was a sacrifice which Christ asked of me and my people. When I was eighteen, I went to the mother house of the Loreto Sisters in Rathfarnham. I left Rathfarnham after only six weeks. I had joined in October 1928 and in January 1929, I went to India to do the noviciate.

I did my noviciate in Darjeeling and took the vows with the Loreto Sisters. For twenty years, I was at work in education in the St. Mary's High School, which was mostly for middle class children. I loved teaching, and in Loreto I was the happiest nun in the world.

On September 10, 1946, while I was going by train to Darjeeling for my spiritual retreat, I experienced a call to renounce everything and to follow Christ into the slums, to serve the poorest of the poor.  In a quiet, intimate prayer with our Lord, I heard distinctly, a call within a call. The message was quite clear: I was to leave the convent and help the poor whilst living among them.  It was an order.  

I left the Loreto Sisters in 1948. Leaving was my greatest sacrifice, and the most difficult thing I have ever done.  It was much more difficult than to leave my family and country to enter religious life.  But I had the inner command to renounce Loreto to go to serve the poor in the streets, and I had the blessing of obedience.

After leaving Loreto, I was on the street, with no shelter, no company, no helper, no money, no employment, no promise, no guarantee, no security.  I prayed, "God, You, only You.  I trust in Your call, Your inspiration. You will not let me down."  I needed a roof to shelter the abandoned, so I started to search.  

Soon, young girls, former students of mine from Loreto, began to join me. They took off their expensive saris with great satisfaction in order to put on our humble cotton ones. This first group was about twelve, by the time the congregation was established.

In 1950, the Holy Father approved of the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity. I didn't choose this name. It came from the call.  It is what we are meant to be: carriers of God's love.  Since then, girls from all over the world have been joining.

I am nothing. He is all.
I do nothing of my own. He does it.
I am God's pencil.  
A tiny bit of pencil with which He writes what He likes. 
God writes through us,
and however imperfect instruments we may be,
He writes beautifully.

These autobiographical extracts are from, "My Life for the Poor", edited by Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado and Janet N. Playfoot, Ballentine Books, 1985.