On Friday as Kolkata was absorbed in Durga Puja celebrations, in one corner of the city the nuns of Missionaries of Charity (MoC) were busy chanting special prayers to mark their 66th foundation day.
Established on October 7, 1950 by an innocent but determined 40-year-old Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in Kolkata, MoC had its most glorious moment on September 4, when she was canonised as Saint Teresa of Calcutta. However, moments of glory never swayed the nuns of this institution, and Friday was no exception.
“Mother never encouraged any pompous celebration. On foundation day special prayers are organised. Otherwise it is like any other day at Missionaries Of Charity,” said Sunita Kumar, spokesperson of MoC.
A look into the extraordinary journey of Saint Teresa of Calcutta and her Missionaries of Charity would put anyone in awe. Saint Teresa started MoC with just 12 members and today it has 5,150 sisters in 139 countries and 7,058 homes spread all over the world. In other words, MoC is present in 73% of the 191 member countries of the UN.
This number includes 19 homes in Kolkata to look after people and children who need care, care for refugees and homeless, former prostitutes, the disabled, ill, orphans, lepers and the aged.
With just three sarees, a griddle, a pair of sandals, a crucifix and a rosary, a plate, a set of cutlery, napkin, a canvas bag and a prayer book, the nuns of MoC lead a completely frugal life. While the vegetables used in the all the homes in Kolkata are grown in homes of MoC, the blue and white sarees that the nuns wear are woven by the members of the home for leprosy patients by MoC.
“I have been with Mother for 30-years. And in all these years we were surprised to see how she used to lead a simple life and render selfless service. That is exactly what everyone at MoC does,” said Kumar.
“When she established MoC not many people knew her. Then as people saw her selfless service donation in kind and in terms of voluntary service started trickling in. Now MoC has no dearth of donors all over the world. Since the year Mother passed away the number of volunteers coming to Kolkata for short term service too has grown four times,” Kumar added.
The popular saying change is permanent does not apply here. Nothing changes at MoC, except its reach. From its headquarters at Entally in Kolkata, its sisters continue to live up to the credo of the Mother to reach out to the poorest of the poor.