On January 4 Pope Benedict XVI visited a homeless shelter in Rome founded “20 years ago by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and currently operated by the congregation she founded, the Missionaries of Charity.”
The superior of the Dono di Maria shelter, Sister Mark Poustani, told Vatican Radio that the sisters were awaiting the Pope’s visit “with joy and gratitude”.
“We are a community of sisters and our first task is prayer,” Sister Poustani said. “At this time there are eight of us. We begin with prayer and at 8am we collect the fruit of that prayer, that is, the work with the poor.” “We seek not only to give food but also the Word to our guests, sharing it with them every day,” she added.
By 1970 Mother Teresa had already expressed a desire to open a shelter for the poor in Rome. “It was a great desire of hers. And the Holy Father (John Paul II), when he visited our home in Calcutta in 1986, shared this desire. The Dono di Maria shelter is the fruit of the encounter between these two desires, that of our mother and that of the Holy Father,” Sister Poustani stated. The shelter was opened on May 21, 1988, by Pope John Paul II.
The sisters currently operating the shelter greeted Pope Benedict XVI with several gifts, including a photo of him with Mother Teresa from when he was a cardinal.
“The Pope is coming to his home, and it’s not only his because we are in the Vatican. He is the head of the family, our father in the faith. We pray always with the Pope and for the Pope. We will show him our work and ask him to bless it. He will see our daily life. We will not do anything out of the ordinary: every day we provide full meals to more than 70 people and two times per week we distribute the same amount of bread to people on the street. We also have 50 small beds for the sick who are homeless,” Sister Poustani explained.
Since Mother Teresa’s death, the Missionaries of Charity have received over 900 new sisters and have opened homes in 14 new countries. They hope to open a new home soon in China.