Born in a Catholic family in Mangalore (Karnataka), Sister Rose Claire joined the Missionaries of Charity about ten years ago. Between 2006 and 2009, she was in Dire Dawa (Ethiopia) where she served the local house by caring for mental patients. Since January 2010, she has been working with abandoned children in the Nirmala Shishu Bhavan orphanage in Mumbai.
The houses of the Missionaries of Charity are in every corner of the world. What draws people to you?
“Jesus Christ radiates through us. It is a radiation that draws people. In our life, we are simple, average people. But through us, Christ manifests himself to people. We are called to come into the heart of the world, seeking the face of Christ in the poor, doing this together with Jesus and for Jesus. It is Christ who draws people, not us.” What was your work with mental patients in Dire Dawa? How did you help these people?
“In our house in Dire Dawa, we had around 700 mentally challenged male inmates, many of them young men. They respond positively to affection and kindness. There, in our home, we treated them as people and looked after each of them with tenderness and dignity. They have the capacity to understand and it most heartening to see them in the chapel. Often we were tempted to discourage them from coming to Mass, due to many factors, including disturbing the Eucharist, but it is amazing to see their eyes and bodily postures in the presence of the Divine. They are instinctively conscious that they are in a sacred place.”
“Mother was fond of repeating that the greatest poverty is to be unwanted, to have no one to take care of you. At our home, in Dire Dawa, after a while, even their eyes would smile. In our humble works of love for the poorest of the poor, in the way we spoke to the poor, we found the strength, respect and wisdom that we brought out through tenderness because tenderness reveals beauty and value to others. This tenderness is a great way of healing. Mother was never tired of repeating, “We are made to love and to be loved.”
In your homes, in each chapel, the words “I thirst” can be found near the cross. What does this thirst represent in today’s world?
“In many places today, people are dying without anything or anyone, forgotten by the world, rejected, unwanted, unloved . . . . This Thirst is the cry of Jesus on the Cross, “I Thirst,” and the cry of Jesus among the poorest of the poor. God thirsts for every human being; in his Heart, he yearns for the poorest of the poor, for those who are weakest and most helpless, suffering and unwanted.”
How are you getting ready for the centennial birthday of Mother Teresa?
“I have never met Mother Teresa, but I feel her presence all around us. I hear from the senior sisters, what Mother said, what Mother did. Not a day goes by without Mother being spoken of all day long. It is clear that Her spirit is with each of us. The fervour with which the sisters speak about Mother and how fervent she was increases my love for Mother each day.
How can you love Mother Teresa since you have never met her?
I love Mother Teresa as well as Jesus. I have never met Jesus but I love him. He speaks to me during worship, in the Mass, when I am working. I always have the feeling that I am going towards him. In the same way, I love Mother Teresa and I know she loves me. In my inner self, I want to live my life fervently so that I may love her and love Christ.”