If God wishes, I’ll intervene in Kandhamal: Sister Prema

March 27th, 2009 - 9:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, March 27 (IANS) Describing religious conversion as “God’s work”, new Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity (MoC) Sister Mary Prema Friday said she would go to Orissa’s Kandhamal - scene of communal violence - if she received divine inspiration.
The German born Prema, who was elected as MoC head Tuesday, hoped the order’s founder Nobel laureate Mother Teresa will be canonised one day. She also expressed her desire to meet Pope Benedict XVI.

Replying to a query on the Kandhamal riots during her maiden media meet after taking over the top position, she said: “We forgive those who caused us suffering”.

“If God inspires me, I’ll definitely intervene,” said Prema, when asked whether she would go to Kandhamal.

Asked to spell out her views on religious conversion, she said: “Every human being has the right to believe. Each person is born with dignity. Religious conversion is God’s work”.

Prema, who turns 56 in May, responded to a host of posers during the half-hour media interaction at the Missionaries of Charity global headquarters, the Mother House.

Expressing surprise at her election, the nun said she needed to know the community across India.

Sister Nirmala, who had led the congregation for 12 years since Mother Teresa stepped down in 1997, was re-elected for a third term March 13. But the MoC held a second election Tuesday after she expressed a desire to be relieved of the post owing to ill-health.

“My election was a bit of a surprise to me. I had no plans, Mother led the society quite amazingly. Sister Nirmala followed her. Now, I have to follow Sister Nirmala.”

“I’ll work for the poor, the downtrodden. I will work to eradicate poverty,” said Prema, who was born Mechtilde Pierick in Reken, Westfalia, Germany. Her parents are now dead, but she has an elder brother and a twin sister. “Both of them are married and have children.” In her early life, Prema taught in a school for the handicapped.

She first came to know about Mother Teresa by reading the book “Something Beautiful for God” by Malcolm Muggeridge.

“Inspired by the book, I met Mother in 1980 in a youth meeting in Berlin, and joined the MoC the same year in Essen, Germany.”

Missionaries of Charity sources said she served the poorest of the poor in Italy and other European countries, and was a member of the general chapter in which Nirmala succeeded the Mother as Superior General.

Since 2001, Prema is living in Kolkata.

“Sister Nirmala will continue to guide us,” she said to a question on her predecessor.

Prema hoped that the Mother will be canonised one day. “The investigation of the Miracle is still on.”

The MOC, founded by the Mother in 1950, now has 766 Mother Houses all over the world, of which 246 are in India. “We have 4,950 novices working all over the world, though their numbers have gone down in the last one year,” said Prema.

She traced the reason to break-up of families and fewer children.

Prema said the young generation has to be inspired to join the MoC. “Through our humble service and plain lifestyle we have to draw the young generation,” she added.

She did not think the charisma of the Mother was missing. “It is still there.”

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