A look at the Missionaries of Charity’s work in S’pore

A Missionaries of Charity Sister feeding a resident in the Gift of Love Home in Boon Lay.

The Missionaries of Charity (MC) are “happy and humbled” by the recent canonisation of Mother Teresa, said Sr Mary Carmel, the local superior.

“We want to imitate her example [of service to the poor] and have been challenged to do it with greater fidelity,” she said in an interview with CatholicNews.

She said the Sisters imitate their foundress by serving “the poorest of the poor” and in doing so, hope to “bring across God’s great mercy”.

Sr Carmel noted that Mother Teresa experienced a “feeling of unworthiness and loneliness during her ministry”.

“Mother once said: ‘God uses nothingness for His greatness,’” she said.

Sr Carmel shared with CatholicNews what a typical day is like in the Missionaries of Charities’ Gift of Love Home in Boon Lay.

A Sister preparing medicine for residents.

A normal day for the Sisters starts at 4.40 am. They begin with an hour of community prayer before heading off to morning Mass at the Church of St Francis of Assisi.

Some of their prayers include the Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic adoration and the Divine Mercy devotion.

After Mass, the Sisters prepare breakfast for the 32 residents living in the home. Meals for the Sisters are prepared separately by another MC Sister.

Some of the Sisters then visit the homes of families who request for prayers or those who need a listening ear. Sr Carmel shared that the families include non-Christians.

The chapel of the Missionaries of Charity. A blood relic of Mother Teresa is kept here.

The Sisters also handwash the clothes of the residents and their fellow congregation members. In Singapore and most countries, the MC Sisters manually wash the clothes of those under their care.

After meals, the Sisters clean up and prepare any medication required for some of the residents.

Extending a helping hand to the Sisters are volunteers who visit the home to care for the residents in various ways.

Sr Mary Carmel, Local Superior of the Missionaries of Charity.

Some help to cook the food and clean the premises, while others give haircuts to the residents.

According to Sr Carmel, about 130 volunteers visit the home every week. They are made up of a wide variety of nationalities including Koreans, Germans, Japanese, Indians and Singaporeans.

Once a month, the Sisters also provide basic provisions to needy families registered with the home. They include Muslims, Hindus and Christians.

In the afternoon, the Sisters take a half hour rest before starting community prayer and spending time with the residents.

After residents have had their dinner in the evening and their needs are taken care of, the Sisters end the day with prayer and recreation time among themselves.

“We sometimes mend clothes but usually we just talk and relax,” said Sr Carmel.

The Sisters go to bed at about 9.30 pm.

Mother Teresa blessing a Missionaries of Charity Brother when she visited the former Gift of Love Home in Punggol.

The Gift of Love Home also houses a blood relic of Mother Teresa in its chapel.

There are currently eight MC Sisters in Singapore of whom three are Singaporeans – Srs Carmel, Luke and Karol. There are nine other Singaporean Sisters who are serving overseas, such as in the Philippines and Hong Kong.

A Mass in honour of Mother Teresa’s canonisation was scheduled on Sept 10 at the Church of St Francis of Assisi.

Gift of Love Home

Mother Teresa first visited Singapore in 1976.

The Missionaries of Charity later set up their home, called the Madonna Home, at Irving Road in Paya Lebar.

In 1987, Mother Teresa revisited Singapore. She met with President Wee Kim Wee, gave a talk to priests, and spoke to 20,000 people at a youth rally at Toa Payoh Stadium.

That year also saw the opening of the Gift of Love Home in Punggol for the destitute and elderly.

In December 1998, the home moved to Marymount Centre. In 2012, it moved to its current location in Boon Lay. 

By Jared Ng
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