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CURRENT ISSUE:  June 19, 2006 • VOL. 44, NO. 12 • Oakland, CA

Mother Teresa’s Sisters to
open convent in Richmond

The Missionaries of Charity, an international religious congregation founded by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1950 to care for “the poorest of the poor,” is opening a convent in Richmond.

Four Sisters will officially take up residency in their new home, located a few blocks from St. Mark Church on June 29, said Sister Rochelle, director of her community’s Bay Area province.

Bishop Allen Vigneron will say a welcoming Mass in the church for the Sisters at 4:30 p.m. that day. The liturgy will be followed by a procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the new convent and a parish reception. The celebration is open to all clergy and laity in the diocese.

Sister Rochelle is a native of Kerala, India, who worked with Blessed Teresa in Calcutta for many years.

She said the new convent will serve as home for Sister Manju, the superior, as well as three Sisters yet to be named. The four-bedroom dwelling is being leased, initially for a year.

The Sisters will attend Sunday Mass at St. Mark’s but plan to go to daily Mass and prayers in a private chapel to be located in the convent.

The provincial said the Sisters will begin their ministry by doing home visits, going to nursing homes and hospitals, and “talking with people in the streets” to assess what the area’s most pressing needs are.

The Missionaries decided to direct their efforts to Richmond, rather than to Oakland, “because when we looked around, Richmond was the neediest place,” explained Sister Rochelle.

Richmond is the latest Bay Area outreach for the Missionaries as well as the 17th house in their west coast province. The community’s provincial headquarters is located on the grounds of Good Shepherd Parish in Pacifica. The Sisters also have a 37-member novitiate there as well as a hospice for AIDS patients and a home for unwed mothers in San Francisco.

Since the order’s founding by Blessed Teresa 56 years ago in Calcutta, the Missionaries of Charity have established 743 tabernacles, (the name Blessed Teresa gave to her convents) in 134 countries. Approximately 50 are in the United States. The Missionaries have over 4,700 active and contemplative Sisters, as well as a number of active and contemplative Brothers and priests.

The Sisters carry on their ministry by visiting families, shut-ins, prisoners and hospital patients. They also run soup kitchens and shelters for the homeless. They engage in street ministry, organize catechetical instruction and operate summer camps.

The Missionaries in Richmond will live their foundress’ simple lifestyle, said Sister Rochelle. That means washing clothes by hand, not using a clothes dryer or dishwasher, and not having a computer. They’ll call upon a manual typewriter for their correspondence.
During the chilly, rainy East Bay winter, the Sisters will turn up the convent’s thermostat only when it is absolutely necessary, said the nun. They’ll get a car only if they need transportation to carry out their works of charity.

The Sisters will support their ministry through private, unsolicited donations and “the Providence of God.” The community does not allow people to use Mother Teresa’s name or the Missionaries of Charity name for fundraising, said Sister Rochelle.

Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity pray in one of their Bay Area chapels.


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