On Tuesday, June 23, 2015, the Missionaries of Charity announced the death of Sr. Nirmala Joshi, 81, who succeeded Bl. Teresa of Calcutta as superior general. She served the community in that capacity from 1997 to 2009.
Sr. Nirmala suffered from ill health over the past few years and was brought home from the hospital a few days before her death. Sister Nirmala did not have the high-profile of Mother Teresa but she quietly carried on the works of charity in the manner of a contemplative. Prior to her election, she was head of the contemplative branch of the order.
Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Calcutta said that she was a great soul and that “she never talked about herself; she was more about how to support peace, to be helpful to the poor … she had a deep union with Jesus and she was a gentle apostle of peace until the end.”
Sister was born into a Hindu family, though early-on educated in Christian schools. Inspired by Mother Teresa’s work, she was baptized and later became a sister. Her youngest sister became a Carmelite.
Here is a beautiful quote from Sister Nirmala about Mother Teresa as quoted in L’Osservatore Romano (Aug 5, 1998):
“And then I think of her humility. I remember it always, it is always in my heart. I remember that Mother Teresa’s eyes looked beyond this world. Mother Teresa surrendered in an absolutely radical way to God’s will, and God used her as an instrument of His love.
This is the great mystery of God and it is also the mystery of our vocation. ‘I am thirsty.’ Jesus’ words on the Cross explain Mother Teresa’s life and our choice. We must quench the thirst Jesus continues to have for the poor. Jesus even called me from afar, from a family that was not Christian, to make me, with implacable gentleness, understand His thirst and to quench it”.