Mother Ter esa’s Successor

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More than six years after she tried to step down as head of the Missionaries of Charity, but was begged to stay by her fellow nuns, Mother Teresa has found a successor in Mother Nirmala, a 63-year-old native of India who will head the order of 4,000 nuns. “Every great religious order faces this kind of succession question,” reports TIME’s Richard Ostling. “The Franciscans never found another great leader after St. Francis died, yet they managed to grow and thrive. We will probably see the same phenomenon here. Mother Nirmala will continue Mother Teresa’s work. The only drawback is that the loss of Mother Teresa’s magnetic person ality may reduce the number of people who are drawn to the order.” Born a Hindu, Mother Nirmala converted to Catholicism at age 24 because of Mother Teresa’s ministry. Says Ostling: “It is useful that the order is now headed by a native of India , at a time when the Hindus are pressuring the government to reduce the Christian presence in India. Teresa is an Albanian. Choosing another outsider might have made it difficult for the Missionaries of Charity to continue operations in the country wher e it became famous.”