Sr. Joseph, new superior general of the Missionaries of Charity
By Vatican News staff reporter
The Missionaries of Charity (MC) nuns of Mother Teresa of Calcutta have a new Superior General.
Sister M. Joseph Michael, a native of southern India’s Kerala state, was elected the new head by members of the General Chapter on Saturday, March 12, at a home of the nuns just outside Kolkata city (formerly Calcutta).
Successors of Mother Teresa
The 68-year-old nun succeeds Sr. Mary Prema Pierick, the German-born nun who has led the MC order for two terms from 2009. Sr. Joseph becomes the fourth nun to lead the sisters clad in the simple white cotton sari with three blue stripes on the borders, known throughout the world for reaching out to the abandoned and the poorest of the poor.
After Saint Teresa of Calcutta, the foundress of the Missionaries of Charity who died in 1997, the congregation was led by the Nepalese-born Sr. Nirmala Joshi, who also founded the contemplative branch of the sisters.
Sr. Joseph is thus the first native Indian to hold the office of Superior General. She is the daughter of Devasi and Kochuthresya of Poyyapara near Mala Thrissur, in Thrissur District. She joined the Missionaries of Charity at the age of 20 after passing from Poya AKM School and was one of Mother Teresa's closest collaborators. She also served in the Philippines, Poland and Papua New Guinea.
She returned to Kolkata during the canonization of Mother Teresa in 2016, after which she took charge of the Kerala region. At the time of her election as superior, she was living at the Shishu Bhavan (children's home) in Ernakulam, Kerala. Until 15 months ago, she was the Assistant General beside Sr. Prema.
"I am sure that God will use all her talents and qualities to bring good to society according to His plans," Sr. John Mariette from Ernakulam told AsiaNews on the election of the new head.
The General Chapter
The General Chapter of the Missionaries of Charity also elected the General Council that will flank Sr Joseph. Sister Christie, assistant general; Sister Cecile, second councillor; Sister Marie Juan, third councillor; and Sister Patrick, fourth councillor, are among the councillors, Sunita Kumar, the spokesperson of the MC nuns told The Telegraph Kolkata.
The nuns of the Missionaries of Charity from across the world came together at a home for abandoned children with disabilities of the congregation on Jessore Road, outside Kolkata city, for their General Chapter,” Sunita said. The General Chapter culminates in the election, which is preceded by retreat, meditation and prayer. Kumar said nuns “from all over” have been staying in the home since the beginning of February. “They have been here (Jessore Road home) for about a month now.”
According to sources, more details will emerge after the conclusion of the General Chapter shortly.