Mother Teresa’s former secretary has been named the new superior of the Missionaries of Charity, AFP reported Monday.
Religious sisters dressed in their distinctive white and blue saris gathered together for a weekend prayer retreat in India to elect the superior general of the order founded by St. Teresa of Calcutta.
The sisters elected Sister Joseph Michael, who will be the third superior to lead the order since its founder’s death in 1997.
Sunita Kumar, a spokeswoman for the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, told AFP on March 14 that Sister Joseph Michael “has been with the organization for a long time and was Mother Teresa's secretary for years.”
Sister Joseph Michael will replace Sister Mary Prema Pierick, who has stepped down as superior general due to poor health.
St. Teresa of Calcutta founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950, under the Archdiocese of Calcutta. She started working in the slums, teaching poor children, and treating the sick in their homes. Together with some of her former students, she took in men, women, and children who were dying in the gutters along the streets and cared for them.
The congregation very quickly grew from a single house for the dying and unwanted to nearly 500 around the world. Mother Teresa set up homes for AIDS sufferers, victims of domestic violence, and prostitutes, as well as orphanages for poor children.
The Missionaries of Charity now have hundreds of houses worldwide and its membership includes religious sisters and brothers and priests, plus a lay organization.