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Missionaries of Charity

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Missionaries of Charity

"To those who say they admire my courage,
I have to tell them that I would not have any
if I were not convinced that each time
I touch the body of a leper,
a body that reeks with a foul stench,
I touch the same Christ I receive in the Eucharist."
Mother Teresa

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Sister Nirmala

Sister Nirmala succeeded Mother Teresa as leader of the Missionaries of Charity in March of 1997. Undaunted by the prospect of following in the footsteps of Mother Teresa, she has said, "I have to walk in my own shoes. We will continue as we have been doing."

Sister Nirmala was a Hindu until the age of 24, when, inspired by Mother Teresa's service to the poor, she converted to Catholicism. She took as her religious name a Hindi word that suggests a purity of mind and spirit.

Sister Nirmala has a master's degree in political science from an Indian university and additional training as a lawyer. She headed missions in Panama, Europe, and in Washington D.C., before being chosen to succeed Mother Teresa.

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The Missionaries of Charity reach out to the poorest of poor, taking in the destitute and the dying, bathing their wounds and helping those about to pass on, to do so with dignity. The order is composed of eight branches:

Thousands of these nuns, brothers, and volunteers work in Missionaries of Charity centers around the world.

Active & Contemplative Sisters

The Active and Contemplative Sisters are required to train for many years. This training is as follows:

  • Aspirancy--6 months.

  • Postulancy--Up to 1 year.

  • Novitiate--2 years. First vows are taken after this.

  • Juniorate--5 years. Vows are renewed each year.

  • Tertianship--The 6th year of vows, after which final vows are taken.

The novitiate training takes place in Calcutta, Rome, Manila, Nairobi, San Francisco, and Poland. The Active Sisters spend their day in service to the poorest of the poor. The Contemplative Sisters pray most of the day except for two hours when they also do service in the community. The sisters report to their regional superiors, or sometimes directly to Sister Nirmala.

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3-5: Active & Contemplative Brothers and Missionary Fathers

The Missionaries of Charity Brothers and Fathers are separate congregations from the sisters but share the same spirit and vow of wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor. The Brothers report to the General Servant (the head of their order), or to their regional superiors. The Fathers report to their Superior General.

The Missionaries of Charity Brothers have a two-year novitiate after an initial trial period lasting from three to six months. There is no obligatory postulant period for the brothers. The brothers are more active, doing similar work to that of the sisters.

The Fathers are more contemplative, praying and saying Mass. They are either already ordained priests or those training to be priests with the Missionaries of Charity.

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6: Lay Missionaries

The Lay Missionaries of Charity make their lives in the world, but take the same vows over the same length of time as the sisters. They can be associated with the apostolate work of the Missionaries of Charity directly, or they can find their own Apostolate to live out their fourth vow to give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor" for their lives. They are religious people, but can be either single or married with families.

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7-8: Volunteers and Co-Workers

The Volunteer Co-Workers have deep spiritual commitments and share the vision of the work of the Missionaries of Charity. They choose to live "radiating God's Love" in voluntary poverty and in sacrifice of luxuries. They work alongside members of the order, reporting to the Regional Superior. They live their lives in prayer and service to their families as well as the community. Priests, too, can volunteer as co-workers.

The Sick and Suffering Co-Workers are members of an association formed in 1969 through a woman called Jacquelinede Decker who, because of sickness and disability, was unable to join in the active work of the co-workers. Instead, the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers offer their sufferings for the poor and for the work of the Missionaries of Charity among them. Their prayers provide spiritual sustenance to the active missionaries in carrying out their work. They become "second selves" to the missionaries, those who pray for the work of the other.

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Mother House
Missionaries of Charity
54 A Lower Circular Rd.,
Calcutta 700016 India
Phone:(91 033)2452277 and (91 033) 2491400

Missionare della Carita
Piazza S. Gregorio al Cielo 2
00184 Roma Italia

Missionaries of Charity
60, rue de la Folie-Méricourt
75011 Paris

Missionaries of Charity
177 Bravington Road
London, W9 3AR England

Missionaries of Charity
335 East 145th Street
Bronx, New York 10451 USA
Tel: 718-292-0019

Missionaries of Charity
1596 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA  94117 USA

Missionaries of Charity
2704 Harlandale Ave.
Dallas, TX 75216 USA

Missionaries of Charity
185 Dunn Ave.
Toronto, Ontario N6K2S1 Canada

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