Today, on the 15th anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa, David Van Biema writes on the ministry of the Missionaries of Charity in Latin America in our online Books & Culture section. Van Biema is the author of the illustrated biography Mother Teresa: The Life and Works of a Modern Saint, now available in Spanish as La Madre Teresa: La Vida y las obras de un santa moderna:
The Blessed Mother Teresa—born 102 years ago in August, died 15 years ago in September, beatified nine years this October—founded her order, the Missionaries of Charity, in India. But as soon as the Missionaries were allowed by church law to expand beyond India, the very first place Teresa went—at the invitation of the local bishop—was to Cocorote in Venezuela’s Zona Negra.
Over time she was invited into almost every Latin American country, starting with Mexico in 1976, El Salvador in 1977, Argentina and Panama in 1978, Brazil, and Peru in 1979. By the time of her death the Missionaries had foundations in 65 cities and towns from Santiago, Chile, north to Tijuana—as well as in areas with large Latino populations in the United States.