Mother Teresa, the Catholic nun known worldwide as the "Saint of the Gutters" for her work in Calcutta among the poor and dying, will open two missionary homes in the Anacostia area possibly by the end of this month, a spokesman for the Washington Archdiocese announced yesterday.
The 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner and head of the Missionaries of Charity of Calcutta was asked by Washington Archbishop James Hickey early last month to open two homes in the vicinity of the Assumption parish at 3411 Martin Luther King Ave. SE, officials said.
"I know the archbishop has felt this section of the city has needed some good news for a long time," explained Father Thomas Kelley, who has been assigned to the Assumption parish for two years. "This certainly is good news."
The Assumption parish area was chosen by Hickey and Mother Teresa because half of the District's welfare recipients live within the parish's boundaries.
Officials said Mother Teresa's order will operate a "contemplative" home where nuns will pray and meditate for 12 to 13 hours a day and an "apostolic" home where nuns will minister in the community. Although few plans have been completed, an archdiocesan spokesman said the nuns will concentrate on ministering to prisoners at the District jail, the elderly in D.C. Village and the ill at St. Elizabeths Hospital, as well as "knocking on doors in the community to talk about Christ."
Mother Teresa plans to send eight nuns to staff the two homes. They are expected to arrive by the end of June and probably will come from the Missionaries of Charity's home in the South Bronx. Besides New York City, Mother Teresa has opened homes in Detroit, St. Louis and Los Angeles.
The archdiocese is negotiating to buy two homes for the order, officials said, and will provide what a spokesman called spartan furnishings, including 10 surplus Army cots, wooden benches and a folding table for the nuns who receive no pay and depend on charity to operate their homes.
Once the homes are established, the sisters may also open a community center for religious retreats, recreation and education.
The two Washington homes are among 20 Mother Teresa wants to open this year around the world as part of his order's missionary work that began nearly three decades ago in Calcutta. Mother Teresa first attracted recognition by opening centers for society's rejects -- lepers, the poor and the dying. Her philosophy, officials said, is to help people accept their condition in the world.
Mother Teresa was in Washington yesterday when archdiocesan officials announced plans to open the homes. She appeared at a symposium to speak out against abortion. Part of her order's ministry helps arrange adoptions.