Succession issue for nuns

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 September, 1996, 12:00am

Speculation about a successor to Mother Teresa as head of the Missionaries of Charity is intensifying as a congregation of nuns prepares to discuss the issue later this month.

The timing of the conference was fixed long before the Calcutta-based Nobel peace laureate was admitted to hospital in serious condition on August 20 with malarial fever and heart problems.

Although Mother Teresa, 86, has since made a remarkable recovery, the renewed fears about her health have made the issue of who will follow her more urgent.

Mother Teresa's successor as superior-general will be chosen by about 5,000 nuns of the order across the world.

Senior nuns at the Calcutta headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity were reported to have retreated to 'gather their thoughts in seclusion and peace' ahead of the succession debate.

Catholic Church sources in the city said the next superior-general would need both charisma and organisational ability to oversee the order's 456 missions in 95 countries.

'Mother Teresa's personality has dominated the order for so long that there has been little or no thought to any successor,' said an observer close to the order.

Possible contenders are Sister Andrea, a doctor presently in charge of novices at the Missionaries of Charity, and Sisters Priscilla and Shanti, both of whom are close to Mother Teresa.