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Presentation Sisters

UNION OF SISTERS OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

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World Meeting of Families in Dublin

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27/09/2018

The World Meeting of Families Congress is directed from the Vatican by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. The gathering has the special purpose of reflecting on the pastoral care of families in today’s world and advocation for the rights of the family in civil society. Whenever it takes place, it is the biggest gathering of Catholic families in the world. The next meeting is scheduled to take place in Rome in 2021.

The Presentation Sisters and Friends of Nano in Ireland, togther with the ministry centres at Nano Nagle Birthplace (Ballygriffin, Co Cork), Nano Nagle Place (Douglas Street, Cork) and Mount St Annes Retreat and Conference Centre (Killenard, Portarlington, Co Laois) created a space of hospitality and conversation at the recent Dublin gathering. Their display focused on how the compassionate heart of Nano Nagle continues to express itself today in new ways. The particular expression they presented was the Lantern Centre in Nano Nagle Place, Cork, https://nanonagleplace.ie/the-lantern-community-project/

They had an amazing community art banner from the men’s project in Nano Nagle Place expressing the light which had entered mens’ lives through the open door of this project. 

The second section of the banner depicted how the family members of Nano Nagle took different parts in encouraging, supporting and calling forth on her pilgrim journey. The banner heading read It Takes a Family to Make a Woman of Vision. 

The Presentation Stand was one of more than 300 exhibitors at the RDS Conference Centre. More than forty volunteers from across all of the represented groups offered hospitality to the exhibition visitors in groups of six from 8am to 8pm for three days. During these days roughly 37,000 people from 116 countries passed through the exhibition centre and attended a wide diversity of talks, prayer experiences, musical performances and fun family events. For the Presentation Sisters and Friends of Nano in Ireland, it was a privilege to bring the story of Nano Nagle to the attention of such a global audience. By placing Nano in the context of her family her story connected with the dreams and hopes that parents have for supporting their families amid the challenges that a life of faith faces today. 

There were many memorable moments in the conversations and encounters which took place – family members of Presentation Sisters enjoying a moment to recall how the memories of a Sister were inspirational for them; past pupils remembering exceptional women who inspired and encouraged; international visitors recounting the transformative impact of Presentation Sisters around the world; seekers enquiring about being Friends of Nano Nagle today; teachers in schools of Presentation Heritage picking up Exam Prayer Cards for their pupils ... 

One incident might capture the grace and blessing which were so palpable in the encounters at the Exhibition. An older man from rural Ireland had studied the list of exhibitors and was surprised to see the Presentation Sisters in attendance. He marked the location of the stand and found his way there – despite the crowds and limited signage. He wept in recollection of the kindness of a Sister who took extra time with him after school so that he could get the skills of reading, which were exceptionally difficult for him. He frequently added the comment “and no one paid her for that”. When leaving he left an envelope which had a donation for a student known to a Presentation Sister, who today has learning difficulties. The man was deeply consoled to have had the opportunity to honor his debt of gratitude. In recounting his story, this visitor reminds us of the infinite hidden fidelity of Presentation People to the call, which Pope Francis names as reaching out to those who find themselves in the peripheries. 

Inspired by her example, we become as she was a prophetic presence and voice in the service of people made poor. We work to ensure the dignity of persons is respected and their rights upheld by engaging in compassionate service, especially through various forms of education. (Our Way of Life. C7). 

Submitted by: Sr Bernadette Flanagan, pbvm

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