We Are Not Lacking in Vocations, Says Mother Teresa´s Successor

Interview with Sister Nirmala, Superior of the Missionaries of Charity

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CALCUTTA, India, APRIL 21, 2002 (ZENIT.org-Avvenire).- Since March 1997, Sister Nirmala has been entrusted with the spiritual and material legacy of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.



Sister Nirmala, 67, is the superior of the Missionaries of Charity, who today number 4,000. About 200 of these religious work in Calcutta, dedicating their lives to the poorest of the poor. The congregation has 679 houses worldwide, 85 of which have been established since Mother Teresa´s death.

Born of Nepalese parents in 1934 in Ranchi, in the Indian state of Bihar, Nirmala Joshi first heard about Mother Teresa when she was 24. After a personal meeting, Nirmala converted from Hinduism to Catholicism.

She has a licentiate in political science, and worked for a few years as a lawyer. Sister Nirmala has served as a Missionary of Charity in Panama, Europe, and Washington, D.C.

The Missionaries of Charity´s House in Calcutta is on a little street that leads to an avenue with heavy traffic. The sisters and novices hear the constant noise. Near Mother Teresa´s marble tomb, however, the noise is suddenly silenced.

There are flowers, a burning lamp, a large white marble rosary, and a key phrase: "Love one another as I have loved you."

"She is always here," Sister Nirmala says. "She is always with us, spiritually, of course. She has only changed her residence, she has gone from earth to heaven."

Q: Has anything changed since Mother Teresa´s death?

Sister Nirmala: The grace of God continues to be with us, it helps and protects us.

Q: Do you have the problem of a lack of vocations?

Sister Nirmala: On the contrary. There is no lack of new vocations. Nevertheless, we ask everyone to pray so that they will be increasingly numerous.

Q: What can be done, concretely, to help your work among the poor?

Sister Nirmala: Here people really need everything, but we do not ask benefactors for anything. We know that, those who can, give spontaneously with great generosity. The truth is that God knows how to touch people´s heart and the fruits are seen.

Q: In some countries of the West there is a lack of vocations. Why?

Sister Nirmala: In some of those countries there are few births; the family is no longer able to transmit certain values. Vocations begin at home, but too many families in the West are destroyed.

Q: Is it otherwise in India?

Sister Nirmala: The Indian family is able to be more united.

Q: At this time, marked by violence, wars, and great world crises, how can men of good will react?

Sister Nirmala: By praying more, loving more, learning to respect the rights of others.