Chinese pilgrims pray at the tomb of Mother Teresa in Kolkata
by Nirmala Carvalho

The foundress of the Missionaries of Charity could never bring her sisters to China. However, her message of love and charity towards the marginalised inspired a local lay association, which today has almost 6,000 members, serving the poor and the sick.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A group of pilgrims from mainland China is visiting the Archbishop’s House in Kolkata. They are part of a "third order" inspired by Mother Teresa.

The group, 30 people accompanied by two priests, was welcomed by Archbishop Thomas D'Souza, who told AsiaNews that "Their joy was infectious".

Mother Teresa of Calcutta was never able to realise her dream of bringing her missionaries to China because of the opposition of the Chinese government.

However, the seeds dropped by the saint on Chinese soil have sprouted, leading to the birth of this lay association of men and women who live and work in villages, inspired by the message of love and charity of the Mother of the poorest of the poor.

The pilgrims prayed on the tomb of Mother Teresa, in the general house of the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by the nun of Albanian origins.

"They spent an hour at Archbishop's house,” said Fr Dominic Gomes, vicar general of the archdiocese. “They look like priests and nuns but they are just simple lay faithful, working among people who are persecuted in China."

“They wanted to hear the rhythm and sound of the tabla, so we played it for them, and after the blessing of religious articles in the chapel sang songs of blessings". The tabla is a percussion instrument originating from the Indian subcontinent.

The association inspired by the Mother Teresa’s charism "has about 6,000 members,” said Mgr D'Souza, “from nine dioceses in China with a focus on charity and evangelisation.

“They travel to villages spreading the message of love, doing work of charity like helping the sick and the elderly. It was really edifying to meet these Chinese pilgrims.”