More than 100 nuns from around the world began a private retreat Thursday to prepare for electing a replacement for Mother Teresa as leader of their Missionaries of Charity order.
The 86-year-old Roman Catholic nun, weakened by a heart ailment and a deteriorating bone condition, was expected to step down as superior general sometime this year.
Mother Teresa tried to resign in 1990, but the other nuns re-elected her anyway. But this time, friends reported, she believes her followers will yield to her wishes.
The nuns assembled at the order’s Calcutta headquarters, where Mother Teresa lives and works. The order’s spokeswoman, Sister Priscilla Lewis, would give few details of the closed proceedings. No names of candidates for superior general have been released.
“The retreat is beginning this evening when sisters will be busy in praying and the election for a superior general will be held on Feb. 2,” she said.
The 100 or so nuns who form the electoral college are representatives of missions around the world.
Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity nearly 50 years ago. It has more than 4,000 nuns and runs 517 orphanages, homes for the poor, AIDS hospices and other charity centers around the world.
Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.