Maria Nirmala Joshi
Sister Nirmala in Witness, the Salt + Light Television programme
TitleSuperior General of the Missionaries of Charity
Born(1934-07-23)23 July 1934
Died23 June 2015(2015-06-23) (aged 80)
ReligionChristianity (Catholicism)
Alma materUniversity of Calcutta (Doctor Juris)
InstituteMissionaries of Charity
Senior posting
PredecessorMary Teresa Bojaxhiu
SuccessorMary Prema Pierick MC

Maria Nirmala Joshi (23 July 1934 – 23 June 2015) was an Indian religious sister who succeeded Nobel laureate Mother Teresa as the head of the Missionaries of Charity and expanded the movement overseas.[1][2] After taking over the charity following Mother Teresa's death in 1997, Nirmala expanded the organisation's reach to 134 countries by opening centres in nations such as Afghanistan and Thailand.


Joshi, née Kusum, was born on 23 July 1934[3] in a Brahmin family as the eldest of the ten children at in Ranchi, Bihar and Orissa Province in the British Indian Empire (now the capital of the Indian State of Jharkhand).[4][5][6] Her parents were from Nepal and her father was an officer of the British Indian Army until the nation's independence in 1947.[6] Although the family was Hindu, she was educated by Christian missionaries in Mount Carmel, Hazaribagh, India. At that time, she learned of Mother Teresa's work and wanted to share in that service. She soon converted to Catholicism and joined the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa.[7] Joshi completed a master's degree in political science and then went on to secure a doctorate degree in law from the University of Calcutta.[4][8] She was one of the first Sisters of the institute to head a foreign mission when she went to Panama. In 1976, Joshi started the contemplative branch of the Missionaries of Charity and remained at its head until 1997, when she was elected to succeed Mother Teresa as Superior General of the institute.[8]

The government of India bestowed the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award, on Sister Joshi on Republic Day (26 January) 2009 for her services to the nation.[9][10] Her term as Superior General ended on 25 March 2009, and she was succeeded by German born Sister Mary Prema Pierick.[6]


Joshi died on 25 June 2015 in Kolkata from a heart ailment.[11] Many leaders of India expressed their condolences in media, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.[12]


  1. ^ "Sr Nirmala Joshi: Let us put down the weapons of violence; religion is a work of peace". Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Sr. Nirmala Letter to The Co-workers_2008". Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Inside the Vatican". 2001.
  4. ^ a b "We are 'little pencils' in God's hand". Eternal World Television Network. 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Sister Nirmala is no more". Indian Express. 24 June 2015. Archived from the original on 23 June 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "Sister Nirmala Bio". Celebs Bio. 2015. Archived from the original on 24 June 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  7. ^ "How India remembers Mother Teresa". Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Indian-born nun to succeed Mother Teresa". CNN. 13 March 1997. Retrieved 3 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2013)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015.
  10. ^ "Padma Vibhushan". Archived from the original on 26 April 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
  11. ^ "Sister Nirmala passes away – The Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Mother Teresa's Successor, Sister Nirmala Joshi, Dies at 81". Retrieved 25 October 2015.