Mother Teresa's successor is no more
The head of the Missionaries of Charity - Sister Nirmala Joshi who succeeded Mother Teresa passed away in Kolkata today. She was 81. Her body is being kept at St John's Church in Sealdah and will be shifted to Mother House in Kolkata tomorrow where the funeral will take place. Sister Mary Prema will succeed Sister Nirmala.
Sister Nirmala was born as Kusum Joshi into a high caste Brahmin family. She "felt Jesus Christ had come alive to me" at her missionary school and decided to embrace Christianity. She was finally baptized on 5 April 1958, as Sister Nirmala. Her change of religion was not accepted by her parents, and it took them years to relent and accept her new avatar.
Sister Nirmala was one of the first Sisters of the institute to head a foreign mission when she went to Panama. She supervised the Missionaries of Charity's centers in Europe and in Washington D.C in the United States. She became the first assistant to Mother Teresa, and in 1979 headed the order's Contemplative Wing in Kolkata, in which nuns devote their lives to meditation.
Sister Nirmala replaced Mother Teresa as the Superior General of the charity mission after Mother Teresa's insistence to be relieved of her duties. It took an eight-week selection effort which commenced with a closed-door vote by 132 senior nuns. Sister Nirmala was to be aided by a council of four members to be elected before the nuns dispersed to their missions around the world.
In 2000, one of the order's nuns - Sister Francesco, was accused of burning four girls on a hot plate, an incident because of which Sister Nirmala had to face criticism.
The Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity Sister Nirmala was given the 2nd highest civilian honour Padma Vibhushan for her work for the poor and her actions for peace in the country. She dedicated the award to the poor, urging everyone to take part in building "a civilisation based on love." This is the highest award received by Missionaries of Charity.