Kathmandu, January 7:

Sister Nirmala, the head of the Kolkatta-based Missionaries of Charity, is scheduled to visit Nepal from January 13. This will be her first visit to the country after she was picked up as a worthy successor of Mother Teresa in 1997.

Sister Nirmala, who is now touring north-east India, is a Nepali by birth. The visit is being billed a milestone in the annals of the Missionaries of Charity movement in Nepal.

Church sources revealed that activists of the mission will be according a warm welcome to her at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) before she is driven to the Assumption Church at Dhobighat in Jawalakhel where she will attend a mass.

The visit, which has been kept a well-guarded secret by her followers in Nepal, could be officially announced just two days before she actually arrives.

The visit, meant to explore the possibility of extending the Nepal network of the order, is expected to culminate in the nun visiting Pokhara.

Once in Pokhara as part of the second leg of the visit, she will be initiating the process of upgrading the current centre into a contemplating one for the growing followers of the order in the city, sources in the capital told The Himalayan Times today. Currently, the order has only a care centre in the city, while there is already a contemplative centre in the capital since years.

Sources said that, among others, she will be honouring Fr Oki, a Japanese priest in Pokhara, who has long involved himself in social service and the service of the poor.

Sources in the capital said Fr Oki is avowedly donating a plot of land and a complex to the centre so that the Pokhara centre of the Missionaries of Charity evolves on firmer ground in the years ahead.

Sistern Nirmala, who is now past 78, was initially picked up to succeed Mother Teresa for a period of six years. Later, she reportedly has was retained as the permanent head of the order.