INDIA Missionaries of Charity associates welcome new leader
KOLKATA, People associated with the Missionaries of Charity Family Organizations (MC) have welcomed Sister Mary Prema's election as the head of the congregation started by Blessed Teresa of Kolkata.
Sister Mary Prema:
Sister Prema is "the best choice ... to give vision and direction," said Brother Jesudas Mannuparambil, who was the superior general of the MC Brothers from 1998-2004.
Sister Prema is "understanding, straightforward, does not compromise, and often loves to remain hidden," he said.
The 57-year-old German-born nun was elected superior general of the congregation at the end of a general chapter on March 24. She succeeds Sister Nirmala Joshi, who took over the position from Blessed Teresa in 1997.
Brother Mannuparambil described Sister Nirmala as "the unifying person" for the congregation, but said that Sister Prema is the person who will be able to "take the congregation forward."
"She knows the congregation well," he stated.
He added that the German nun did well as the congregation's regional superior in Europe and as tertian director in Kolkata, the eastern Indian city where the congregation is based. Tertianship is the final formal period of Religious formation.
Sister Prema was also an MC councilor working with Sister Nirmala.
Jesuit Father Albert Huart, who in the past visited the MC headquarters as a confessor, said the choice of Sister Prema "was good and necessary" because of Sister Nirmala's poor health.
Sister Nirmala was elected for a third term during the chapter but she withdrew because of health problems. Her third term would have required papal approval since the congregation's constitution allows only two six-year terms for the position.
Building contractor Krishnendu Ghosh said Sister Prema is "hard-working and soft-spoken." He added that "she would speak only a word or two, and would do her work silently."
Ghosh had renovated an MC house where Sister Prema was tertian director. "She is gentle in her dealings and yet firm," he recalled. "She has the patience to listen to people."
Father Sunil Rozario, editor of the Calcutta archdiocesan weekly paper "The Herald," said Sister Prema is genuinely "interested in the charism she has opted for."
The priest interviewed Sister Prema the day after her election. "She is humble and unassuming, but exhibits God's strength," he said.
Father Rozario recalled how Sister Prema took time off to serve his aged mother when he brought her to visit Blessed Teresa's tomb at the MC headquarters. He said he was impressed with "her concern for the aged and the suffering."
Sister Prema, whose name means love, is the new superior of the Sisters of Mother Teresa
Sister Prema, whose name means love, is the new superior of the Sisters of Mother Teresa Brother Paul, a priest with the Missionaries of Charity, says the new superior general is “a deeply spiritual person” with “the charism of the Missionaries of Charity implanted in her heart.”
Elected on the first ballot, she met Mother Teresa for the first time in 1980. Kolkata (AsiaNews)
In Sanskrit “Prema means love,” love that is pure and holy, a name that befits the new superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, Brother Paul told AsiaNews. The 41-year-old British priest is a member of the male branch of the Missionaries of Charity, the religious congregation founded by Mother Teresa. Sister Prema met the Blessed for the first time in 1980, in Berlin, after reading Something Beautiful for God, a book by BBC journalist Malcolm Muggeridge who wrote about his meeting with Mother Teresa in 1969 when he was making a documentary on the nun from Kolkata that would make her known worldwide. “I know Sister Prema. She is a visionary, a deeply spiritual person with an implicit trust in God. She has a clear understanding of her mission, with the charism of the Missionaries of Charity implanted in her heart, to serve Jesus by serving the poorest of the poor,” said Brother Paul who has been posted for the past seven years in the Shanti Bhavan, or House of Peace, in Kolkata. The general chapter of the Missionaries of Charity held in Dum Dum picked the German-born nun to replace Indian-born Sister Nirmala Joshi as the head of the congregation to reflect its international reach, which now includes some 5,000 nuns in 133 countries. Mgr Lucas Sircar, archbishop of Kolkata, said that Sister Prema was elected on the first round of voting, getting more than two thirds of the votes cast by 163 delegates. For Brother Paul the new superior general’s country of origin does not represent any change since “God looks not at nationalities, but at hearts.” Sister Prema’s task now is “to guide the Missionaries of Charity towards the holiness of our Blessed Mother Teresa.”
German nun to lead Sisters of Mother Teresa of Kolkata
Mary Prema is the second nun to lead the Missionaries of Charity after the blessed founder died in 1997. She replaces Sister Nirmala, who asked to be relieved of her duties to live a contemplative life in the congregation.
Kolkata – German-born Sister Mary Prema is the new superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, the congregation founded by Blessed Teresa of Kolkata. She is replacing Sister Nirmala Joshi who has led the congregation since 1997, after taking over from its founder.
Sister Christie, spokeswoman for the congregation, made the announcement a day before its general chapter was scheduled to end. It began on 1 February at a place some 30 kilometres from Kolkata, headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity.
The Sisters wanted to re-elect Sister Nirmala to a third term but she requested to be relieved of her duties, citing ill health and a desire to live a contemplative life in the congregation.
At the general chapter 163 nuns cast their ballot, 74 from India and the rest from countries where the Missionaries of Charity are present.
Along with the new superior general, Sister Joseph was elected as assistant superior general and first councillor. Other councillors include Sisters Joanna, Adriana and Joseph Maria.