Missionaries of Charity is a Roman Catholic Latin Rite religious congregation established in 1950 by Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It consists of over 5,300 religious sisters.
Members of the order designate their affiliation using the order’s initials, “M.C.” A member of the Congregation must adhere to the three vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and to a fourth vow, to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor.” They rely entirely on Divine Providence and trust in God to provide for all the needs of the poor.
The M.C. Sisters live a very simple lifestyle without television, radio, or items of convenience. They neither smoke nor drink alcohol. They are permitted to visit their families every ten years. A Sister’s few possessions include: three saris (one to wear, one to wash, one for special occasions); two or three cotton habits; a rope cincture; a pair of sandals; a crucifix; and a rosary. They also have a plate, a set of cutlery, a cloth napkin, a canvas bag, and a prayer book. In cold countries, sisters may own a cardigan and other articles suited to the local climate, such as a coat, scarf, and closed shoes.
For the M.C.s, the pencil – a humble and simple tool – symbolizes the very meaning of their vocation of serving the poorest of the poor, in whom they recognize Christ. They clearly remember Mother Teresa’s words, “I am only a little pencil in God’s hand”. It was precisely a pencil which a Missionary of Charity brought to the altar during the Offertory on the day of Mother Teresa’s funeral, celebrated in Calcutta on 13 September 1997. “That was a sister’s idea, in order to honor Mother who loved to describe herself as ‘God’s pencil.’ Jesus has so many pencils of God that get worn down, we are only the ‘temporary’ pencils that God uses to write the history of charity,” said Sr. Mary Nirmala Joshi (1934-2015), the first successor to Mother Teresa as Superior General of the Congregation.
The Missionaries of Charity at St. Agnes 225-383-8367
In 1985, Bishop Stanley Ott invited Mother Teresa to bring some of her Sisters to care for the poor in Baton Rouge. With the kind approval of St. Agnes Church’s pastor, Fr. John Spriggs, Bishop Ott leased the former St. Agnes elementary school building to Mother Teresa. Mother had brought Sr. Priscilla, the Regional Superior, and four M.C.s to open the new foundation in Baton Rouge. The names of the first four Sisters were Sr. Deepam (superior), Sr. Maria Seraphino, Sr. Thomas More, and Sr. Scholastica.
The Sisters stayed in the parish’s former convent (originally used by the Dominican Sisters) and established a maternity home for unwed women upstairs. Later, the upstairs was converted to classrooms for catechism classes for the children of St. Agnes Parish. The M.C.s opened a soup kitchen in the parish cafeteria very soon after arriving; a shelter for women was opened in the former school building. The soup kitchen is now also located in the former school building.
Their apostolate at this time includes:
- 1) A Shelter for women and small children, who are provided with a place to sleep and 2 meals (breakfast and supper). In conjunction with the Bishop Ott Day Program, a Diocesan van transports the residents to that facility, where social workers assist the women in finding employment and permanent housing; they return to the M.C. shelter at 3:00pm
- 2) A Soup Kitchen – The Sisters prepare and serve a meal five mornings per week for 40-80 people in need. Food preparation begins at 8:15 am and meals are served from 10:00-11:00 am. Meals are not served on Sundays and Thursdays. Volunteers are always welcome!
- 3) Catechism – Four of the Sisters teach in the PSR program at St. Agnes. The Sisters prepare 2nd graders for their First Holy Communion, as well as the 11th grade students for Confirmation. They also teach the 4th and 6th graders catechism. In addition to their PSR involvement, the Sisters conduct a catechism program called the Good Shepherd program. The Sisters teach this program to the children on Monday afternoons throughout the year.
The Lay Missionaries of Charity are a third order of the M.C. family, founded in Rome in 1986 by Fr. Sebastian, M.C. The L.M.C.s take vows of poverty, conjugal chastity, obedience, and to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor.” They follow a rule of dedicated prayer and of living according to the spirit of St. Teresa of Calcutta within their families. They meet for adoration in the Sisters’ chapel twice a month.