The Missionaries of Charity
Missionaries of Charity is a Roman Catholic Latin Rite religious congregation established in 1950 by Mother Teresa. 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 vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and the fourth vow, to give, "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor." We 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 - recall 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", says Sr. Mary Nirmala Joshi. She is in her 60s and since 13 March 1997 has been Superior General of the Congregation founded in 1950 by Mother Teresa. She is the first 'pencil' after their foundress to outline the itinerary of the M.C.s.
The Missionaries of Charity at St. Agnes
In 1985, Bishop Stanley Ott invited Mother Teresa (now St. Teresa of Calcutta) to bring some of her sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, to care for the poor in Baton Rouge.
In 1985, Bishop Ott, with the kind approval of St. Agnes Church Pastor, Fr. Spriggs, gave 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 former convent of the Dominican Sisters and had a maternity home upstairs for unwed mothers. Later, the 2nd floor was used for catechism classes for St. Agnes parishioners' children. A soup kitchen was opened very soon after the foundation and was held in the parish cafeteria, while a shelter for homeless women was opened in the former school building.
At present, there are 6 M.C.s who work and pray at St. Agnes: Sr. Celian (Superior), Sr. M. Christa, Sr. M. Donald, Sr. Jerome, Sr. Soubirous and Sr. Dominique.
Our apostolate at this time includes: 1) A Shelter for homeless women and small children. We provide a place to sleep and 2 meals (breakfast and supper) for these homeless families. At present we have 58 woman and children, including 7 pregnant women, as guests in our shelter. We work in conjunction with the Bishop Ott Day Program. A Diocesan Van transports our residents to their facility where social workers assist our guests in finding employment and housing, then they return to the our shelter at 2:30pm 2) A Soup Kitchen - The Sisters cook and prepare a meal five mornings per week for 40-80 homeless people. Food preparation begins at 8:15am and meals are served from 10:00-11:00 am. We do not serve meals on Sundays and Thursdays. Volunteers are always welcome! 3) Catechism - four of the Sisters teach in the P.S.R. program at St. Agnes. In this program the Sisters prepare 2nd graders for their First Holy Communion as well as the 11th grade students for Confirmation. The Sisters also teach the 4th and 6th graders catechism in the PSR program. As well as the PSR Catechism classes, the Sisters teach another Catechism program - their own 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 and were founded in Rome in 1986 by Fr. Sebastian, M.C.. They are a group of lay persons who take vows of poverty, conjugal chastity and obedience and who follow a rule of life of dedicated prayer and who live according to the spirit of St. Teresa of Calcutta within their families. They meet for adoration in the Sister's Chapel twice a month.