WelCom November 2018:
“Spend yourselves for the Poor”
Sr Ruth Coleman pbvm
Celebrations to mark Nano Nagle’s birth 300 years ago are taking place around the world this year.
Venerable Nano Nagle was born into a wealthy family in Ballygriffin, Cork, Ireland in 1718. She was the eldest child of Garret and Anne Nagle.
The harsh Penal Laws were in force in the Ireland at that time, forbidding the education of Catholics. Nano and her siblings were educated in France. Nano returned to Ireland and was deeply touched by the needs of the starving poor and uneducated.
In spite of the oppression and discrimination that existed she went ahead establishing schools at great personal risk. Nano secretly gathered the children of the poor, teaching them catechism, reading, writing and mathematics. As word spread, Nano’s cabin schools increased in number, and more teachers were needed. Nano eventually established seven schools in Cork. Nano deliberately moved, to the peripheries and frontiers of the Cork of her day. Today we too are called to the peripheries by Pope Francis and the Archdiocesan Synod.
In 1775 Nano founded the Presentation Sisters with the sole purpose of educating the poor. ‘If I could be of service in any part of the world, I would willingly do all in my power,’ Nano Nagle said.
Today, Presentation Sisters live and work in 23 countries, continuing Venerable Nano’s commitment to education, to the care of the vulnerable and powerless and to the transformation of unjust systems in a variety of ways and contexts in our world.
At the invitation of New Zealand Bishops, seven Sisters came in 1951 to Taita in Lower Hutt from Tuam, County Galway. In 1954 sisters came to Green Island, Dunedin, from Kerry and to Paraparaumu from Thurles. In 1959 Sr Mary Tait was the first New Zealand-born sister to join the Order.
As with Nano, the focus of the Sisters and ‘Friends of Nano’ is to be among the people, listening deeply to what is being asked at this time. We work to foster awareness and action towards sustainable living and care for the earth.
Celebrations for the Tercentenary in New Zealand have included Sr Breda’s 50th Jubilee Mass at Paraparaumu on 23 September, a Mass at Green Island, Dunedin on 14 October and a Mass to be held at Taita 18 November coinciding with the Wellington Archdiocesan World Day of the Poor observation.
The staff and pupils at Our Lady of Kāpiti, Paraparaumu, St Peter Chanel, Green Island, St Michael’s Taita and St Bernadette’s, Naenae, are involved in the 300 anniversary celebrations; including activities connected with Nano Nagle for a special book to be published later this year.
This wonderful celebration of 300 years since Nano’s birth is a moment of Grace calling us to be filled with her spirit, and to be lanterns for our time, just as Nano was for hers.
50th Jubilee for Paraparaumu Presentation Sr Breda
Presentation Sister Breda Ryan’s 50th Jubilee was celebrated on Sunday 23 September, at the Our Lady of Kāpiti Sunday Mass in Paraparaumu, full of parishioners, family and friends. Irish-born Sr Breda pbvm has been closely connected to the parish and school for many years, continuing the vision and legacy of the Presentation Sisters who came to Paraparaumu from Ireland in the 1950s.
The first Presentation Sisters came to New Zealand from Tuam, Ireland, in 1951 and established a Presentation School at St Michael’s, Taita. In November 1953, 14 Sisters set out from Ireland for New Zealand. Seven came from Kerry and opened a Presentation School in Green Island, Dunedin. And Seven came from Thurles, at the request of Archbishop McKeefry, to start a school at St Patrick’s Paraparaumu.
‘They were young, full of enthusiasm and zeal, here in New Zealand to do God’s work and following in the footsteps of our wonderful foundress Nano Nagle,’ Sr Breda said.
‘Today is a very special day for me and a huge milestone in my life. It has taken me 50 years to get to this day and I thank God for the graces and blessings I have received along the way. It is a time to remember all who have been part of my life and have walked with me on the journey. And all of you, who have become my family and my friends, I thank you all for being here today to celebrate with me. Especially Frs Michael, Jim, Terry and Jim for this wonderful celebration and kind words, the music group and all who have been so much part of this wonderful celebration.
‘We are also celebrating today, 300 years since the birth of our foundress Nano Nagle. She is the reason I am here, and I feel so privileged to share my special celebration with her and with you all. This is the first day of the next 50 years. God Bless you all.’