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Eboo Patel: A New Chapter View Comments
By Judy Ball

It didn’t take the horrors of September 11, 2001, to convince Eboo Patel of the importance of working toward interfaith understanding, cooperation and service. As an American Muslim committed to peace and respect for all religions, he’d already been about that task for years. The tragedies of 9/11 only deepened his resolve to build bridges of understanding between and among peoples in order to overcome the hatred that reigned that day.

Spurred by the belief that religion is a force for good, Eboo had founded the Interfaith Youth Core in 1998 at age 22. Its goal: to harness the positive energy of young people of all faiths—including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus; to replace religious conflict with interfaith cooperation; to inspire college students from diverse backgrounds to work side by side in service projects.

Today the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) is a thriving organization active on close to 100 campuses across the United States—many of them Catholic—and in several foreign countries. (For more information on the IFYC, see Youth + Faith + Service.)

“Can religion play a positive role in society? It can and it has to!” Eboo tells St. Anthony Messenger during an hourlong interview in the fourth-floor offices of the IFYC in Chicago’s West Loop. No group is better prepared to play a key role in transforming the world, he believes, than young people whose faith inspires them to service. (IFYC also welcomes students of no particular faith.)

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Judy Ball is a freelance writer for St. Anthony Messenger who has traveled to a number of Muslim
countries.


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Teresa of Kolkata (Calcutta): Mother Teresa of Kolkata, the tiny woman recognized throughout the world for her work among the poorest of the poor, was beatified October 19, 2003. Among those present were hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, the order she founded in 1950 as a diocesan religious community. Today the congregation also includes contemplative sisters and brothers and an order of priests. 
<p>Born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia (then part of the Ottoman Empire), Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu was the youngest of the three children who survived. For a time, the family lived comfortably, and her father's construction business thrived. But life changed overnight following his unexpected death. </p><p>During her years in public school Agnes participated in a Catholic sodality and showed a strong interest in the foreign missions. At age 18 she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. It was 1928 when she said goodbye to her mother for the final time and made her way to a new land and a new life. The following year she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India. There she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service. She was assigned to a high school for girls in Kolkata, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy. But she could not escape the realities around her—the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming numbers of destitute people. </p><p>In 1946, while riding a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat, Sister Teresa heard what she later explained as “a call within a call. The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.” She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and, instead, to “follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.” </p><p>After receiving permission to leave Loreto, establish a new religious community and undertake her new work, she took a nursing course for several months. She returned to Kolkata, where she lived in the slums and opened a school for poor children. Dressed in a white sari and sandals (the ordinary dress of an Indian woman) she soon began getting to know her neighbors—especially the poor and sick—and getting to know their needs through visits. </p><p>The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long. Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity. Others helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, the use of buildings. In 1952 the city of Kolkata gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute. As the order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging, and street people. </p><p>For the next four decades Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor. Her love knew no bounds. Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On September 5, 1997, God called her home.</p> American Catholic Blog A healthy marriage is that it is a witness of Jesus’s love for the 
Church. We are the bride of Christ, and the greatest declaration of the groom’s love is found at the cross. The complete gift of self by Jesus at Calvary is so entire that it is life-giving.

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