Thursday, October 25, 2007

A stint at the convent, part 2

Well. I'm back from volunteering at the Missionaries of Charity convent, and I've had an even more interesting time than before. But for good reasons! As soon as I arrived it transpired that Sister Nirmala, who's been heading the order since Mother Teresa's death, was about to visit that very convent! She's normally at the Motherhouse in Calcutta but has been touring the houses in this part of the world. Her visit was supposed to be more or less a secret; if I hadn't happened to be there I never would have heard of it. So my volunteering pays off much more quickly than expected. :)

In due course she arrived, surrounded by nuns and preceded by a number of MC brothers and a flock of laypeople who'd somehow heard of her coming. She's a very small woman with a peaceful smile and she made a point of shaking everybody's hand and asking everybody's name. We all gathered together-- residents, nuns, volunteers, miscellaneous folks-- in the chapel where she gave us a short talk, thanking us for our work, talking about Mother Teresa and so on. A speech by Sister Nirmala was actually the main feature of the show that I mentioned taping in the last post, so it was lovely to see her live.

I also met a woman from Calcutta named Florence who'd been taught by Mother Teresa back when she was a teacher with the Loreto nuns before founding the MCs. Florence showed me her album stuffed with pictures and letters from Mother. And I talked to an MC brother who's stationed in Guatemala but happened to be in this area during Sister Nirmala's visit. He said he'd been a brother 18 years. I asked the first question that came to mind: "Do you like it?" This seemed to amuse everyone else in the room. "It's what I am!" he said. The brothers dress simply in pants and sandals and plaid shirts; only when you see a bunch of 'em together do you realize it's their habit.

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