NEW HAVEN – The Knights of Columbus Museum is hosting the American premiere of an exhibition dedicated to a woman who rose to the heights of global recognition and respect by giving everything away at a time when meaning and achievement in life were too often defined by what one has.
The exhibition, titled "Mother Teresa: Life, Spirituality and Message," observes the 100th anniversary of the date of her birth on Aug. 26, 1910.
The diminutive nun was a giant among international humanitarians. Her life’s undertaking and that of the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order she founded, was to provide "wholehearted, free service to the poorest of the poor." Her outreach was to refugees, AIDS victims, lepers, former prostitutes and addicts, the mentally ill, sick and abandoned children, the aged, and physically handicapped. Her community of religious sisters, brothers and priests run schools for street children, soup kitchens, orphanages, homes for women, and hospices for the dying, providing service regardless of religion or ethnicity.
Among Mother Teresa’s many honors were the Nobel Peace Prize (1979), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (religion, 1985) and the Congressional Gold Medal (humanitarian and charitable activities, 1997). She was also the inaugural recipient of the Knights of Columbus’s highest honor, the Gaudium et Spes Award (Christian faith and service, 1992).
The exhibition, which opened in March, continues through Oct. 4. It is a historical presentation, chronicling Mother Teresa’s life from childhood to beatification by the Catholic Church. It includes biographical information, artifacts such as her sari and other religious and personal articles, as well as a full-scale replica of Mother Teresa’s convent cell (room) in her Calcutta convent. Both during her lifetime and after her death, the Knights of Columbus has supported the work of her religious order financially as well as by providing printing services for the spiritual support of her religious order and its members. Knights also have supported and volunteered in her order’s North American soup kitchens.
Mother Teresa addressed the assembled employees of the Knights of Columbus in the organization’s New Haven headquarters in 1988. Details of her close relationship with the K of C are also included in the exhibit.
The Knights of Columbus Museum, located at One State St., New Haven, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission and parking are free. Information and directions are available at (203) 865-0400 and kofcmuseum.org.