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Friday, March 27, 2009

"German Nun to Lead Missionaries of Charity"

From Earth Times

New Delhi - German-born Sister Mary Prema has been elected the new head of the Missionaries of Charity, a congregation founded by Mother Teresa in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, a spokeswoman for the order said Thursday. The appointment has to be ratified by the Vatican.

"Sister Mary will be reaching Mother House [the global headquarters of the order in Kolkata] on Friday," said Sister Christie, spokeswoman for the Missionaries of Charity. "We will be able to give more details only after she is here."

The congregation's general chapter elected Sister Mary Prema as superior general Tuesday, Sister Christie said.

Sister Mary Prema, 55, was born as Mechtild Pierick in Recken in Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia state.

She joined Mother Teresa's order at the age of 27 and has since been a member of the congregation, serving in Rome and Nepal among other places.

Known to be close to Mother Teresa, the low-profile Sister Mary Prema is one of the seniormost nuns of the order.

She was chosen as one of the four leaders to lead the congregation at the general chapter held in 2003. The order holds a general chapter every six years to evaluate the functioning of the congregation.

The 2009 general chapter elected her to lead the order after current superior general Sister Nirmala said she wanted to dedicate herself to a more contemplative life within the Missionaries of Charity, the Union of Catholic News website reported.

Sister Nirmala, 74, has headed the Missionaries of Charity since Mother Teresa's death in 1997.

A total of 163 nuns voted at the general chapter to choose Sister Mary Prema to take over as the new leader, the Union of Catholic Asian News reported.

Seventy-four of the nuns were from India and the rest were from the more than 130 countries where the order has branches.

Albania-born Mother Teresa lived and worked in Kolkata for more than 45 years ministering to the sick, dying and orphans. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Kolkata in 2003.

The Missionaries of Charity now has more than 4,000 nuns as part of the order and runs more than 700 branches round the world.

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