By GEORGIA BULLETIN STAFF | Published August 8, 2019
ATLANTA—Sister Mary Prema Pierick, superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, visited the Atlanta members of the congregation and its volunteers in June.
Sister Prema, who requests she not be called “Mother,” arrived June 27 for her first visit with the Atlanta sisters. In 1980, she joined the Missionaries of Charity, the congregation established by St. Teresa of Kolkata, and was named superior general in 2009.
In Atlanta, the Missionaries of Charity run the Gift of Grace House for women with AIDS.
In addition to the work at the house, the white and blue sari-clad sisters help families at Colony South trailer park and are catechists at San Felipe de Jesus Mission, both in Forest Park. They also assist refugees in Clarkston, providing after-school programs, summer camps and English classes.
Sister Prema, a native of Germany, had the chance to witness some of the ministries first hand during her stay.
“I am very grateful for the experience to visit Atlanta and to see the work the sisters are doing. Being in the company of the women with AIDS at Gift of Grace House and attending the final day of summer camp in Clarkston has been special,” said Sister Prema. “I enjoyed the program prepared by the young people at the camp.”
On the Solemnity of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the superior general participated in the consecration to the Sacred Heart and blessing of the convent and house. A Mass was held June 29 at the house in Virginia Highland for friends and volunteers. Father Brian Baker was the celebrant.
“I think Atlanta was very blessed with having Sister Prema here,” said Micah Jennings, who has served as a volunteer for the Missionaries of Charity since they arrived 25 years ago.
Jennings said it was an “incredible grace” to pick up Mother Teresa and drive her during her two-day visit to Atlanta in 1995 to see the Gift of Grace House.
“She has the same spirit,” said Jennings of Sister Prema. “She radiates Mother’s love.”
Jennings, a parishioner of St. Pius X Church, Conyers, has helped the Missionaries of Charity in a variety of ways throughout the years. He said many new volunteers have joined in as the sisters are so good at “bringing the community in and letting them share in their apostolate.”
“They’re all so in tune with reaching out and helping others,” said Jennings.
He was able to bring his wife and son to the Mass to meet Sister Prema.
“She’s carrying on Mother’s legacy. She is so humble,” said Jennings. “She gave total access.”
The Missionaries of Charity formally arrived in 1993 to begin work in the archdiocese. The Gift of Grace House opened in 1994 after volunteers helped renovate the two-story home. It is a safe place for women who once lived on the streets.
Mother Teresa came to Atlanta in mid-June 1995 to mark the official opening of the house.
Volunteer Sydney Morse and her husband, James, help the sisters by teaching a catechesis class and a Bible study for middle and high school students based on St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
Morse said the Clarkston students are the best group of young people she’s ever encountered.
“They want to engage, and they are genuinely interested in diving deeper into the truths in their faith,” she said. “They stole my heart, and they are a big reason I am still here in Atlanta.”
She attended the backyard Mass and said that meeting Sister Prema was surreal.
“She is so beautiful. She exudes such joy, peace, mercy and compassion. She smiles just like Mother Teresa—it’s uncanny,” said Morse. “It is clear even just from seeing her and hearing her speak briefly that she has found a piece of eternity in her service to the poorest of the poor which we all seek in our own way, usually in a thousand distractions.”
Morse said being with any of the Missionaries of Charity has transformed her life and inspired her to strip distractions away to be more present daily to Christ.
From Atlanta, Sister Prema departed to spend time with the Missionaries of Charity community in Dallas. She then addressed all of the mothers superior serving in the United States at a July meeting in Chicago.
Sister Prema said she took from Atlanta “the joy and confidence that God is working through the sisters to bring many souls to love God.”