Friday, March 27, 2009

New head of Mother Teresa order to follow her footsteps

KOLKATA, India (AFP) — The new head of the order founded by Mother Teresa to serve India's poor and sick said Friday she joined the congregation because she was impressed with the "simplicity" of the Nobel laureate.

German-born Sister Mary Prema, who succeeded Indian-born Nirmala Joshi as head of the the Missionaries of Charity earlier this week, also said she would follow in the footsteps of Mother Teresa and care for the needy.

"I have no separate thought or plans. Mother Teresa led the Missionaries of Charity in a spirit of courage of devotion and sister Nirmala followed her," she said.

"It is my sacred duty to follow both of them," Prema told a news conference at the order's headquarters in Kolkata.

Nuns in the order take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and promise to give "free service to the poorest of the poor."

Prema said she first met Mother Teresa in Berlin in 1980.

"I met her and was touched by her simplicity," she said of the Albanian-born nun who died in 1997.

"I was surprised by seeing nuns washing their clothes in a centre in Germany, and this simple way of life and Mother Teresa?s compassion for the poorest of the poor inspired me to join the congregation the same year."

Mother Teresa was beatified six years after her death, when late Pope John Paul II set on her a fast track to sainthood.