We invite you to “come, relax and enjoy” as you get to know our Presentation Newfoundland and Labrador Sisters here in Canada a little more from across the miles. More of our story can be explored at your leisure by browsing our website https://presentationsisters.ca/
We are delighted to introduce ourselves by sharing a video about Who We Are which was originally created for a virtual Gathering of Presentation People – Sisters, Associates and other collaborators – from all over North America in September 2020. Click this link to watch our NL Video which traces our evolving story…from the beginning of time, to our formal beginnings with Nano Nagle and her companions in late 1700s Ireland, the foundation in Newfoundland in 1833 as the first Presentation community outside Ireland, to today as we are now being beckoned into a yet-unknown future.
Celebration photo on our Motherhouse steps for the 175th Anniversary of the coming of our first four pioneering Sisters to our Newfoundland shores in 1833, the first Presentation mission outside of Ireland. Partnering with our Presentation Women from around the world as we keep nano’s Lantern bright!
In 1833 four pioneering Sisters from Galway, Ireland – Sisters Bernard Kirwan, Xaverius Lynch, Xavier Mullowney and Magdalen O’Shaughnessy – carried Nano’s vision and spirit to our own Newfoundland shores. It would seem they were naturally following the path of so many Irish immigrants and keeping alive Nano’s vision of education as a path out of poverty for the powerless and vulnerable. Nano’s vision had birthed a response that was both broad and penetrating. Her spirit, the spirit of these first four women and those who followed them, continues to guide us as we give new expression to ministry for these ever-changing and increasingly challenging times.
Partnering…Presentation People All…attentive to God’s unfolding Dream…
Together, as Presentation People, rooted in contemplation and following in the footsteps on Nano, we continue to advocate for the change of unjust systems, especially those of which we are a part. Sometimes our focus is on effecting change and sometimes it is more simply offering support any way we can in response to ongoing and emerging needs, with special attentiveness to care of the Earth and those made poor, in Communion with all of life.
The Associate Prison Puzzle Project further below is yet another story of our Associates initiating exactly that latter kind of outreach to those within our prison system who are surely among those made poor and kept poor.
Collaboration through partnering is a deep-seated value for us globally and as Presentation Sisters of Newfoundland & Labrador. One key expression of this partnering is our NL Presentation Associate Relationship. In their day-to-day lives wherever life finds them, our Associates witness to the spirit of hospitality, compassion, simplicity and the spirituality of being in communion with all of life, so integral to who we are as Presentation.
Since the September 2017 IPA Assembly in Sydney, Australia, there has been a global movement towards recognising ourselves in the broader and more fluid context of Presentation People, which includes all of us, Sisters, Associates and Collaborators. In fact, anyone who lives in Nano’s spirit is a Presentation person. It holds wonderful possibilities for us to deepen our connections and to participate in initiatives flowing from the charism and mission of our congregation and encompasses a broadening range of commitment and involvement.
Come meet some of our NL ‘Presentation People’.
Associates Amazing Prison Outreach Ministry – Games and Puzzles Project #2
If I could be of service…I would gladly do all in my power…
Pre-Covid, a group of our East Coast Associates were looking to undertake a Justice Project. One of our Associates who worked in Corrections at our local Penitentiary at the time suggested a ‘Games and Puzzles Project’ for the inmates. It started small and became a wonderful success. Our Associates now felt new understanding of and sympathy with people who are ‘locked-in’. We shared their joy and delight! One inmate was so proud of his achievement that he waxed his finished puzzle, mounted it and hung it up for all to see…pictured here on his wall! Mission accomplished indeed!
In December 2021 the nudge came for another Justice Project. The inmates again became the focus, given their especially hard time ‘doing time’ during Covid, many without family or other outside supports. In phase one, nearly $1000 in donations was raised, providing ‘Canteen Credits’ for the most needy at the Prison for simple things like personal care products, snacks and greeting cards to connect with loved ones. Simple yet profound joys!
In the January lull after Christmas, it was decided to revive the ‘Games and Puzzles Project’ as a fresh venture, culminating in an amazing collection of over 400 gently-used items. We are grateful to the pastor who encouraged participation in the initiative of our Associates and we were touched by the wholehearted response of the parishioners. Such generosity provided more than enough for all three Correction Centres throughout Newfoundland & Labrador, as well as six other local social programs aimed at supporting women and youth in crisis.
Come meet our ‘Christmas elves’ and share our joy and excitement…
To quote one of our ‘elves’ in the midst of what felt so very much like Santa’s Workshop, How awesome that we could put these into the hands of so many…it makes my heart smile!
Associates Fundraising ~ School Breakfast Program ~ Refugees Outreach
In Central NL our Associates and Sisters happily partnered with the wider community in support of a local School Breakfast Program, helping assure a healthy start to the children’s day for optimum learning outcomes. A second venture, a local concert, was also organised in support of their local Refugees Outreach Program. Both ventures were a huge success, attentive indeed to new and emerging needs.
Bowring Park Labyrinth Walk
…live contemplatively…walk lightly on the Earth…witness prophetically… CG2018
In a spirit of Being in Communion with our world leaders and all those around the world praying as one for the COP26 Climate Change talks happening in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021, our Associates extended an open invitation to drip by, holding our Earth and all of life dear.
Virginia Water Contemplative Centre
A Sacred Space of welcome for celebrating our relationship with all of creation…rooted in fidelity to The New Universe Story. The Centre also welcomes individuals and groups to avail of this space and participate in the Centre’s vision through their own program offerings or other happenings.
Nano Play for the 300th Anniversary of Nano’s Birth
Our Stephenville/Port au Port Area Associates wrote and presented their ‘Nano’ stage play for the whole area community in 2019. The script was written by Associate, Germaine White, inspired by our 300th Anniversary of Nano’s birth. You can download the script here
Nano Nagle Spirituality Centre
Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Spirits
In tune with the New Universe Story
Repurposing Properties to Meet Emerging Community Needs
We hold in trust our resources, finances and in solidarity with the whole community of life. Er recognise our responsibility to live sustainably and to call forth the full potential of our resources for the furthering of life and mission. (Our Way of Life. C63)
Another dimension of our community engagement has been the gifting and repurposing of some of our properties in response to emerging needs as our own need to continue to hold on to these properties gave way to the beckoning of new responses in furthering life and mission. Below are some of our stories.
From Convent to Emergency Children’s Shelter
In the mid 1980s, in response to a request from our Provincial Health and Social Services and Child Welfare Departments, our convent at ’50 Bonaventure’ in St John’s temporarily transitioned from being a residence for our Sisters to being an Emergency Children’s Shelter that would serve as ‘home’ to children who were temporarily in the care of Social Services. Children arrived at our doors anytime of day or night, ages ranging anywhere from days old to mid-teens, their intended stay being weeks, months or longer, until they could be returned to families, or placed in Foster Care. It was a whole new world! While still owning the building, our Sisters served as administrators as well as staff and volunteers, along with other staff and volunteers.
As the need grew and the space was no longer adequate, we moved the Children’s Shelter to the main part of one of our other larger convents known as ‘Mary Queen of the World’, on the edge of the city. Our other Sisters continued to live in the Convent ‘apartment’ that had previously been added on. Times changed, needs changed, Social Services Programs changed, and the need would be addressed in other ways. The Children’s Shelter setting transitioned back once again to being a residence of our Sisters.
From Convent and School to a Residence for Adults with Complex Mental Health Issues
Once a Convent and school, Xavier House opened its doors as a new ministry in 1985. It is now home for women and men with complex mental health issues. As part of our ongoing ministry among those made poor, this ministry creates an atmosphere of love, healing and joy, focused on fostering respect and dignity, while offering much-needed professional care. It continues to help fill a pressing need identified by and within the community. It is the only facility of its kind in NL. After having transitioned to lay administration several years ago, we continue to offer a Presentation presence to all there. At the end of 2021, with an increasing need for more living space, we gifted the last part of the convent.
From Convent and School to a Place of Welcome for the Cold, Hungry and Often Homeless
The Gathering Place, a former Sisters of Mercy Convent and school in the downtown core of St John’s, was collaboratively established in 1994 by the Sisters of Mercy and our Presentation Sisters in response to the needs of those seeking food. It is a place of welcome for people who are cold, hungry, often unemployed, homeless or living in less than desirable conditions, and lacking adequate social, emotional and financial resources. Today it offers a whole array of ever-expanding services. It has transitioned to lay administration, supported by the community at large and hundreds of volunteers. We continue to be faithful partners, committing our energies and other resources to building community and fostering a sense of dignity and independence among those vulnerable individuals who are The Gathering Place guests.
From Elementary/Primary School to Christian Life Centre to Community Life Centre
This extension of our former Presentation Elementary School was renovated in 1996 and repurposed to serve as a centre fostering healthy, just and vibrant community life in the historic downtown core of St John’s. Initially named as a Christian Life Centre, The Lantern, is now transitioning towards a Community Life Centre, more inclusive of all seekers. It is primarily a host site, facilitating programs and events.
From Convent to Emergency Shelter for Women and Children
In 2008, in keeping with our Presentation commitment to care for the most vulnerable, we consulted with community leaders and social justice advocates who identified the need for a shelter for women and children outside the St John’s area. We were very pleased to gift the convent in Carbonear for this purpose. They themselves chose the name O’Shaughnessy House for one of our four founding Sisters, Sister Magdalen O’Shaughnessy. While not directly involved on site, we continue to provide on-going support.
From Convent to Affordable, Comfortable, safe Housing for Seniors
In November 2016, two months following the closing of St Patrick’s Convent after 160 years of ministry in partnership with the people of St Patrick’s Parish, the convent was gifted to the City of St John’s, specifically for use as affordable housing for seniors. Through our involvement with the wider community on housing and ending homelessness in the city, we have seen more and more elderly people having great difficulty finding safe, affordable and comfortable places to live. We are grateful that we can give back to the city, to the people in whose lives we have shared so deeply. One chapter completed; another begins as new stories are created at Nagle Manor.
From Convent and Renewal Centre to End-of-Life Hospice
In response to an identified gap in the province’s health care continuum, in 2016 we gifted St Catherine’s Convent and Renewal Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor, for re-development as The Lionel Kelland Hospice. The 10-bed residential facility will focus on end-of-life care, providing comfort and dignity for dying patients while also providing support for their loved ones. This will be Newfoundland and Labrador’s first residential hospice. While not directly involved on site, we continue to provide on-going support.