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MC nuns go to university

Missionaries of Charity sisters attend theology course in Rome

The two Missionaries of Charity Sisters who are attending the formation course The two Missionaries of Charity Sisters who are attending the formation course
  • C.M. Paul, Rome and Julian Das, Kolkata
  • Vatican City
  • April 4, 2011
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Two Missionaries of Charity nuns are creating history for their congregation by attending a university course.

This is “a first” for the congregation that Blessed Teresa of Kolkata established to serve the “poorest of the poor.”

“Normally we do not attend university courses. However, for this program, we got special permission from our Superior General Sister Prema in Kolkata,” says Sister Lily Marione who originally hails from the Philippines.

She and Italian Sister Mathia are attending a three-month diploma course being held at the Pontifical Salesian University, Rome. This is the first time that Missionaries of Charity (MC) Sisters are attending the February 16- May 27 International Formation course held under the Faculty of Theology.

“This is the first time we have Mother Teresa’s sisters participating in our program,” said Vittorio Gambino, the course director.

There are 93 participants from 37 countries belonging to 32 Religious congregations attending the course that includes lectures, personal and group work on a variety of spiritual formation topics. There are 18 participants from seven Asian countries - Philippines, Thailand, India, Jordan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar - belonging to 10 congregations.

Missionaries of Charity Superior General Sister Mary Prema said that the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome had offered two places for the three-month long formation crash course, and the two sisters attending them are the Postulant Mistress and the Aspirant Mistress – in charge of the  initial formation periods before those interested in becoming MC nuns are sent to join the novitiate.

According to Sister Prema, some 50 of her sisters go through a year-long in-house course in theology in Kolkata.

A priest from Kolkata who sometimes would conduct part of the courses for the nuns recalled that the classes would always be conducted under the watchful eye of Mother Teresa or her trusted associate Sister Fredrick.

Mother Teresa did not believe in sending MC Sisters to seminars and courses but organized exclusive residential training for her nuns at her Donum Fidei (Gift of Faith) centre in Tengra, Kolkata, he said. The curriculum would consist of MC spirituality, theology, scripture studies, catechesis and other Religious formation related topics by “trusted and proven” resource persons.

“I used to take pleasure in putting through some clear ideas to them on the urgent need of  being prepared … Sister Fredrick would be sitting in the front desk not to miss any utterances of mine,” the priest said.

Missionaries of Charity nuns take perpetual vows of chastity, poverty, obedience, and wholehearted service to the poorest of the poor.

Candidates must be between 18 and 35, guided by the right intention, be healthy in body and mind, and able to bear the hardships of their vocation.

Mother Teresa received Vatican permission in 1950 to start her congregation. Its mission was to care for, in her own words, "the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society." It began as a small congregation with 13 members in Kolkata but today has more than 4,000 nuns in most of the countries of the world running orphanages, AIDS hospices, and charity centers, and caring for refugees, the disabled, aged, the poor and homeless, and victims of floods, epidemics, and famine.

On March 13, 1997, Mother Teresa stepped down as the head of the MC congregation. She died on September 5, 1997, nine days after her 87th birthday.

ZY13764.1648
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