Nano Nagle, a wealthy Irish Lady founded the Presentation Sisters just over two hundred years ago. She grew up in penal Ireland and so was not permitted to practise her faith openly. People prayed at Mass Rocks hiding in the hills. Because Nano’s family was wealthy she went to France to be educated as there were only hedge schools in Ireland in those days. When her schooling in Paris was finished she remained there and moved in the highest society. Fashionable clothes, wild parties and all night balls became the order of the day for her. God “called” Nano but Nano was too busy with her parties and bright life. However coming home from a party in the early hours of the morning Nano passed a Church – quite a number of people were waiting to attend the first Mass.
This incident helped to change her life. The contrast between their start to the day and her own left a lasting and deep impression on Nano. The scene haunted her till she returned to Ireland at the age of 28. For almost thirty years Nano worked as a lay woman for the poor and oppressed of her native Ireland. The incredible bravery and determination of Nano during these years led to the formation of the Presentation Sisters in 1777 – almost at the end of her life! Through all her struggles and difficulties her devotion to the Mass the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart kept her ever in touch with God her loving Father. In 1777 Nano planted the tiny “acorn” from which grew the great oak tree of the presentation Congregation.
One of Nano’s favourite sayings was, “If I could be of service in saving souls in any part of the globe I would willingly do al in my power.” On 24 November 1950 five sisters set out from Ireland and said for six weeks, reaching their journey’s end in Taita, Lower Hutt. These were the first Presentation sisters to work in New Zealand. The challenge was great and the sisters responded with enthusiasm. Taita was at the time, a newly built up area in the expanding city of Lower Hutt.
Today the Presentation Sisters throughout the world are called by the God to be disciples of Jesus and spread the Good News of God’s love to all humanity. They engage in many diverse forms of service and education at all levels, medical and social work, catechetics, community development, pastoral and ecumenical work.
International: www.presentationsistersunion.org/ .