SISTER Mary Prema, superior general of Saint Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity in India, and Sister Ronald Mc, regional superior of the charity, say they are happy with the work being done at their mission here in Jamaica.
Sister Prema, who was yesterday on her first trip to Jamaica, visited the mission located at 73 – 75 Tower Street in Kingston.
“I am very happy to see how well kept the home is and I’m very happy to see that the residents are all smiling and they are very happy. The sisters (assigned to mission) are also very happy to be here serving,” Sister Prema told the Jamaica Observer. The service, she said, is for the poorest of the poor regardless of colour or class.
“We serve the elderly and on Saturdays we have a meal service where we serve about 300 people. We also have the sitting family (residents at the home) and during the week we distribute bread and pastry to the people. We also do meal studies with the people,” explained Sister Ronald Mc.
And despite its location and the recent spate of violence rocking sections of Kingston, the sisters said the mission remains undisturbed by the violence, for the most part. Sister Ronald said the home is not directly affected by violence; however, from time to time gunshots from surrounding communities create quite a scare.
“We hear the gunshots. I always have the courage. We pray for those in the situations and we pray for the people. The community has never been subjected to violence. The people come to us when they are in need so they are very protective, and the gunmen don’t give us any trouble.”
Sister Prema said she has no fears while performing acts of charity, as her love for the poor helps to conquer all.
“My desire is much greater than fear to serve those who don’t have anybody else to serve them. I have a desire and love for the poor,” she said. “You must face them (your fears) one at a time, when you take them all on, that’s when it becomes overwhelming. When you take them one at a time, the grace and the help is there.”
A German by birth, Sister Prema said she joined the India-based Sisters of Charity in 1980, after she read a book, Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge. Muggeridge wrote the book after he conducted an interview with Mother Teresa.
“As a young woman I had a great desire to be a missionary. I wanted to serve not too close to my own home, but far away. One day, I came across the book and it served as a pre-invitation to my soul that I wanted to serve,” she said.
Yesterday, Sister Prema bemoaned what she said was a decline in the number of young people who are committed to serving as missionaries.
“We still have young women who are joining and we still have young people who are very much interested in helping and volunteering. The numbers of young sisters have diminished over the years, but still we are grateful that we are able to continue the work.”
She added: “Young people find it very difficult to commit to a life of radical living. Most are still coming from India. Mother Teresa didn’t call young people to live this life. It is Jesus. Mother was definitely guiding them, but it’s Jesus that calls and he never stops calling.”
The low-profile Sister Prema is one of the most senior nuns in the order, serving as third superior general. Sister Prema, who is known for her work among the poor, was first elected in 2009 and was re-elected in March 2015.
The Sisters of Charity operates in some 760 communities in approximately 139 countries, with missions also in Haiti, Trinidad and Cuba.
The Sisters of Charity is the religious congregation founded by Mother Teresa — now Saint Teresa — of Calcutta, India.