Kolkata (AsiaNews/Agencies) – More than 3,000 people from around the world and all walks of life attended yesterday’s funeral of Sister Nirmala Joshi, the first superior general of the Missionaries of Charity after Mother Teresa.
Political and religious leaders, government officials and "the poorest of the poor", the first beneficiaries of the mission of the Sisters of Mother Teresa, came to the order’s Kolkata headquarters following the nun’s death.
Card Telesphore Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi (Jharkhand) led the service, along with Mgr Albert D'Souza, archbishop of Kolkata, and Mgr Salvadore Lobo, bishop of Baruipur.
The two-hour Mass was accompanied by hymns and prayers, sung by the Missionaries of Charity. The body was laid to rest in the cemetery next to the chapel at 7 pm (GMT + 5:30)
During the wake, frail and wispy, but smiling, 83-year-old B. Collins walked in gingerly, aided by a nun.
"She was ever-smiling and always helpful. How can I weep? She lived a full life and did her part for humanity," said Collins, who is cared for at the Nirmal Hriday, the first home for the sick and dying created by Mother Teresa in Kolkata.
"Sister Nirmala is gone but I hope the sisters will carry on the good work they have been doing for poor people like me," said Mohammed Parwez, a disabled resident, who placed a garland on the glass casket.
During the funeral, Sister Prema, current superior general of the Missionaries of Charity described, Sister Nirmala as the embodiment of courage and compassion Mother Teresa stood for.
"She spread the message of love and compassion to all she met. There were no manipulations, no pretences. She gave each one time and space to unfold their concerns. She welcomed all," Sister Prema said.
"Sister Nirmala always had a smile on her face. Physically we may have lost her but she will be alive through her ideology and philosophy," said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
During her 12 years at the helm of the order founded in 1950 in Kolkata, Sister Nirmala visited many countries, opened new houses and brought more people into the Missionaries of Charity, which now has more than 4,500 religious sisters in 133 nations.