Ireland North East was formed when the South East Province and the Northern Province in Ireland merged in 2015 to form a single unit. This Unit is known as the Ireland North East Unit. Founder of the Presentation Sisters, Venerable Nano Nagle set up her first school in Cork, Ireland, in 1754 and founded the Congregation on Christmas Eve in 1775 and in the 240 years that followed Sisters spread across the Ireland of Ireland, forming three separate provinces and becoming part of Union at its formation in 1976.
To find out more about our Sisters in Ireland North East and the ministries they are involved in please see below.
Athenry, Co Galway
On the 18th June 1907, Rev Mother Mary Margaret Turner of Presentation Convent, Tuam received a letter from Canon Joseph Canton, Parish Priest of Athenry requesting her to send some Sisters to begin a new foundation and to teach in the local girls National School.
On the 2nd January 1908 four valiant Sisters came from Tuam to Athenry and proceeded by carriage to Abbey Row where after white washing the walls of the school began their mission of Primary education. Education evolved from then on, through Secondary Top to full Secondary School, growing and expanding all the while right up to our own day.
The Parish Priest Canon Canton vacated his own house and gave it to the Sisters while he and his sister moved to rented accommodation in the town. He later built them a new Primary school before building his own house.
Presentation College is now meeting the demands of the 21st century in their new beautiful modern twenty million building to continue to keep the flame of Nano Nagle’s famed Lantern burning brightly.
Six Sisters now reside in Athenry Convent, their age range is from 70-96: Srs Clare Costello, Brid Burke, Chanel Canny, Carmel Raftery, Martina Morris and Catherine O’Connor. They have all dedicated their lives to education in Ireland and also in Pastoral work and education in New Zealand, Chile, Ecuador, Zambia, England and the USA.
Presently Sisters are involved in Pastoral Work, RCIA, Vincent de Paul Society, Secondary School, home visitation, Ministry to Nursing Homes, teaching English to foreign nationals, house ministry, women’s clubs and prayer meetings.
Recently we celebrated the Tercentenary of Nano Nagle by unveiling a plaque in Abbey Row in the original site where the four Sisters started their educational work in Athenry. We also celebrate significant birthdays and events as they occur.
Warrenmount, Co Dublin
Nano Nagle recognised education and lifelong learning as a cornerstone of enabling the transformation of all, especially those on the margins of society. Almost 250 years since she began her pioneering work in her schools, education and learning projects are still an intrinsic focus of Presentation Sisters’ ministry across the globe.
Warrenmount Community Education is located in the Liberties area of Dublin 8, close to Newmarket Square and St Patrick’s Cathedral.
When Warrenmount Centre opened its doors in 1995 it was not possible to visualise (never mind consider) what it might look like twenty and more years later. From small beginnings, it now holds its place in the local area, nationally and internationally, as a model of good practice in community education. Today’s adult learners attending classes at the Centre have modern facilities in comfortable, warm rooms with up to date IT equipment.
The Mission Statement of the Centre:
“[…]…we aim to meet the needs of the local community by creating opportunities, building confidence and developing skills. We do this through a learning style that is person-centred, participative and informal. Through this, we hope to give people a voice enabling them to create a better society. Guided by the charism of the Presentation Congregation the Centre is committed to providing an open, friendly, welcoming atmosphere where people are respected and valued”.
Sr Pauline McGaley (Director of Warrenmount Community Education Centre) speaks about Warrenmount Community Education as being above all a community of learners, where staff, tutors, volunteers and students interact and are interdependent. They contribute equally to the life of the Centre and the local community. The Centre’s holistic approach caters for a wide variety of student needs, acknowledging that there is no single route to learning and achieving. While responding to learners’ needs, the Centre continues to ensure the quality of its programmes and methods, through staff development and in-service training.
At each stage of its history, it has been responsive and proactive in adapting and developing to address the educational needs of learners as reflected in the key challenges of society around them. In the increasingly diverse society that is Ireland today, there is recognition that the problems encountered by those who come to our country under difficult political and economic circumstances can be aggravated by the inability to communicate. But language is not the only barrier. Lack of understanding, tolerance and respect for difference are serious concerns.
This diverse society is reflected in the student demographic of the Centre, where in 2018, there were people from 60 countries attending classes there. The staff team is also reflective of the cultural diversity in society.
Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) is a reality at the Centre. They are seen as a way to invite people to ‘think global and act local’ to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. The Centre recognises in its practice the enormous potential for communities to move this agenda forward at a local level.
In the words of a few of the students:
“I think it’s the place where you can start to believe in yourself again. An opportunity to get better … to do something new … make a change in your life.”
“Warrenmount will give you 100% support but you have to be willing to learn and put your heart into it. The Centre has given me a life that I enjoy. My children now have a good role model that they can be proud of”.
Sr Pauline McGaley, (Director of the Centre) in their 2018 Annual Report said:
‘[…] we consistently evaluate our courses to ensure they meet the education and learning needs of our community. In these times of almost full employment on a national level there are still many people in need of upskilling in our local area and every effort is made to ensure our courses address this need. […] Reflecting on the Sustainable Development Goals as defined by the United Nations, we recognise our contribution and possibilities for ongoing development. These goals can only be realised through the commitment and goodwill of the community here in Warrenmount Centre. We appreciate the involvement and enormous contribution of our staff, tutors and volunteers.
The vibrancy of the Centre is testimony to this contribution.
Pauline ends by saying: “Together we can make a better world for our learners and the wider local community”. To find out more about Warrenmount Community Education Centre see: https://warrenmountcentre.ie/
Faith and Spirituality: Nano’s faith and commitment to God nourished and sustained her during the best of times and, more especially, during the worst of times. For her, “The Almighty [God] is all sufficient.”
Sr Bernadette Purcell is a Chaplain in the Technical University of Dublin (TUD) previously IT Tallaght. TUD has in excess of 6,500 students from over 85 countries. Bernadette has been involved in pastoral care and ministry at third level for over 15 years.
Bernadette says that the role of Chaplain has changed dramatically over the years from a liturgical /sacramental focus to one of pastoral care and hospitality.
“The time one spends with individuals is very important. I spend a lot of time working with many vulnerable students, and realise that the place of vulnerability in all of us is where spirituality happens”.
Students tend to come to the Chaplain about financial worries, accommodation issues, and exam stress and relationship problems. Sometimes they just call in to have an informal chat. Occasionally they share about their faith, or lack thereof. Often students’ issues reflect societal issues, such as homelessness, coping with direct provision, families in hotels, addiction, family breakup, loneliness, suicidal ideation and isolation, or they may need to access social care agencies around housing or foodbanks.
[…] I try to create a culture of hospitality and to nourish creative and supportive conversations. The work of meeting staff or students can arise in a time of need, while on other occasions my role requires waiting and being available for the unexpected.
“One of the more urgent aims of Chaplaincy is Inter-Faith dialogue and finding a ‘common cause’ with others. This is a big part of my job, encouraging dialogue and getting actively involved with societies and groups that promote faith and diversity. I use the Inter-Faith logo in all my communications as a way of symbolising this aim”.
Chaplaincy at Third Level is very much in keeping with our Presentation ethos and values. Chaplains often stand with those who are experiencing great difficulty and turmoil. In this work, I can engage with a whole cohort of people who do not go to Church, who are aptly called ‘NONES’, because they are not affiliated with any organised religion. This challenges my own certitudes.
As a Chaplain I minister to the spirituality of the person, and while every person lives spirituality, not every person is religious. I feel this role offers me opportunities to engage with others who are completely different from me, and who offer another way of seeing things.
“As the only Presentation Sister in Third Level Chaplaincy, I can see the gift it is, while recognising that it has its own challenges in making the story of Chaplaincy understood for others who don’t have this experience”.
I am thankful for the work I do, the people I meet in daily life and for the privilege of working with young, and not so young people from various backgrounds/nationalities and cultures. Leadership comes in different styles and Chaplaincy is a form of leadership in that it fosters relationships, awakens possibilities and empowers others.
As a missionary Congregation, we experience dealing with differences in multi-cultures and with different faiths. My time in the Philippines enhances my ability to welcome difference, as well as celebrate it.
Work at the coal-face of Chaplaincy is a commitment to the margins and to a value system that sometimes is at odds with a business model of education. It responds to the agenda of needs that call to us today. Sometimes these needs (kindness, care, support, hospitality, prayer and stillness) are considered as optional extras in a world where finance and business is the currency of the day.
This ministry shapes my life as a Presentation Sister. The many bits and pieces that are entailed in Chaplaincy provide a colourful background to what is unfolding and happening in Ireland at this time. For this I am grateful. “Where one is, all are”.
(This text is an extract from an article written by Sr Bernadette Purcell for the Summer/Winter 2018 Issue of Bachlóga, a quarterly magazine of the Presentation Sisters Union – North East Ireland. The full article is available in this publication at https://presentationsistersne.ie/siolta-bachloga-newsletters/ ).
Healthcare and Healing: Nano Nagle recognised that in ministering to people it was often necessary to make provision for care of the body as well as the mind and spirit/soul. She understood the connection between all aspects of the human person.
Hospitality of Heart
‘You (… as Brothers of the People) have the grace of contemplating the wounds of Jesus in those in need, those who suffer, those who are unfortunate or destitute, or full of vices and defects. For you this is the flesh of Christ. This is your witness and the Church needs it”.
[…] Another thing that you said touched my heart. That you don’t ask any questions. It is Jesus who comes [in the poor]. You ask no questions. You accept life as it comes, you give comfort and, if need be, you forgive. ~ Pope Francis, from his opening greeting on his arrival at the Capuchin Day Centre, Dublin during his pastoral visit to Ireland August 2018.
Sr Regina Campbell is a Presentation Sister in the George’s Hill Community (Dublin). She is no stranger to living and working, immersed in the lives of the local community around her.
When most people would be considering a restful retirement after a life in Provincial Leadership, Primary and Secondary Education (and latterly based in the Mission House of the Presentation Sisters in Lucan) Regina, now works three days per week based in the office at the Capuchin Day Centre (Smithfield, Dublin) processing the very welcome donations the Centre receives on a regular basis.
Regina witnesses the day to day impact that the Centre has on people’s lives and on the ever-growing numbers of people who survive because of the practical and personal support provided to all who come there, with needs of any kind. One of the particular characteristics of the Presentation charism is hospitality to all.
Regina shared her reaction each time she sees the sea of needy faces gathered together, like a wave of suffering humanity: “… with their suffering oft times written all over their faces. So needy and so desperate”. She said: “Each time I am reminded of just how well off and how very comfortable I am”.
In sharing her experience working at the Capuchin Day Centre, Regina talks about the dignity with which each person is treated by everyone they come into contact with (staff, volunteers, security staff) no questions asked, no categories of need created, just a welcome, hospitality and practical supportive responses to whatever the need/s might be.
At the Centre, breakfast is served every day between 7.00 am and 11.30 am to approximately 250 to 300 people, with extra arriving on Wednesdays when food parcels are distributed. On a Wednesday, staff and volunteers arrive at around 6.00 am to make up the food parcels for about 1,400 people who need help with their grocery supplies. The Centre also provides 350 parcels each week that come from the Friary in Kilkenny. After breakfast, the Centre closes for a short time to prepare for the busiest part of their day – getting ready to provide a full dinner for 500-600 people.
While the main purpose of the Centre is food provision, they consistently endeavour to respond to emerging needs. This has resulted in the provision of clothing and practical assistance, as well as the addition of other dimensions to the service to help people who have difficulty accessing mainstream services.
(The content of this article which appeared in the NEP Bachlóga magazine (Summer/Winter 2018) was based on an interview with Sr. Regina Campbell. The full article is available in this publication at https://presentationsistersne.ie/siolta-bachloga-newsletters/).
Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation: In Nano Nagle’s childhood years she was fashioned and formed in a secure loving Christian family home amidst the beauty of the landscape of Ballygriffin, Co Cork. In this environment, Nano’s respect for the dignity of persons and human rights was rooted, and her appreciation of the beauty and wonder of creation nurtured daily. In one of her letters she writes: “If I could be of any service in saving souls in any part of the globe, I would gladly do all in my power.”
Challenge to Change
Challenge to Change (C2C) is a development education project aimed at young people attending primary and post-primary schools of Presentation ethos. It seeks to raise awareness, to bring about a greater understanding of global inequality and to allow young people to see the impact of a changing global environment. It empowers students to explore ways in which their actions at local level can impinge for the better on issues such as injustice, human rights, fair trade, racism and exploitation.
Thirty-five (35) schools participated in last year’s C2C (2017 – 2018). They addressed topics as diverse as Gender Equality, Responsible Consumption, Homelessness, Life in a Rural Village, An Inclusive World, A Green Future, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-Being.
2018/2019 is the fifteenth successive year of C2C. Involvement in Challenge to Change is one practical way of making the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) real.
Challenge to Change acknowledges the commitment of principals and teachers in facilitating students with their projects. Through the generous support of Presentation Trustees, the ongoing development of C2C is made possible.
Once again in 2019, the Challenge to Change Seminars provided an opportunity for participating schools to display their projects, and to talk about and exchange ideas with other students and teachers.
There are two seminars held each year – one in Kilkenny and the other in Tullamore, Co. Offaly.
Sisters Margaret Mary Healy and Evelyn Byrne
Social and Pastoral: Social exclusion and pastoral care needs are as prevalent in the 21st Century world as they were when Nano Nagle was ministering to the poor and needy of Cork, Ireland in the 1700’s.
Sisters Bernadette Joyce, Anne Donohue, Nora Cunneen and Nano Brennan will tell you that living in Corrib Park is a full-time ministry as they share their lives, building good relationships with all their neighbours. They qualify this by saying that this means being interested in their well-being and communicating with and for them, as well as working together with the community on various initiatives.
In practical terms, this involves getting active in local projects such as the annual Hospice Walk or supporting local concerns by lobbying on issues that impact the day to day life of the community, such as traffic congestion. Some time back the Sisters had set up a Mission Group to enable the community to be aware of and respond to global disasters. This group has now taken on a life of its own, organised by a group of ladies in the community (with our support in the background). In December 2018 their efforts realised donation of €1,000 towards the recovery fund for the people of Kerala (India) after the impact of the torrential rains and flooding in December 2018, and towards the work of COPE Galway who work to improve the quality of life (in a home of their own) for people affected by homelessness, women and children experiencing domestic abuse, and older people.
The Sisters engage with Adult Literacy provision on a weekly basis through the Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB) and also respond to requests to help third level students with Spanish tuition. They are alert to new people arriving in the neighbourhood and the need to extend a warm welcome and hospitality to them.
Visitation of the sick neighbours whether in their own homes or in hospital or nursing home is something they do on a regular basis alongside visiting their own Sisters who are ill.
Laudato Sí (the Encyclical Letter by Pope Francis on Care of our Common Home) has provided a way for them to work together with their neighbours to care for the environment. Together, they are able to share ideas, as well as what they are trying to do practically in their own lives. They share how they live this out in their homes and gardens and lifestyle e.g. using cars less, collecting rainwater, using environmentally friendly cleaning agents in the home and non-toxic treatment of weeds in our gardens.
Prayer is an important part of their relationship building. Neighbours request and appreciate their prayers especially in times of anxiety and illness, with Lent and Advent as particular occasions for sharing prayer and coming together, as is Mother’s Day.
Sr Bernadette Joyce, Corrib Park
Warrenmount Community Education
Sr Bernadette Purcell (left) welcoming some friends from Tanzania at the Presentation Sister’s stand at the World Meeting of Families (WMOF2018) in Dublin, with Sr. Eileen Clear).
Challenge to Change
Corrib Park - Sharing Mother’s Day with our neighbours
Corrib Park - Sharing hospitality with a local Croatian family
Hospital, Co Limerick
- Promoting “ Friends of Nano” in the local community and with teachers in John the Baptist Community School
- Preparation of Masses with Primary and Community School Staffs
- Prayer Services with Community School pupils
- At Christmas and Easter, the Primary school staff and pupils come to the Convent Chapel where they are guided by a Sister to pray and reflect on these great mysteries
- Participation of lay people in the Sisters annual retreat
- Member of the planning committee for the active Senior Citizens in Hospital and participation in all their activities
- Member of Boards of Management of both Primary and Community Schools
- Members of Board of Management of Voluntary Housing Association
- A long-standing presence in the Hospital area by being a ready listener to people in need
- A stable, prayerful and supportive presence to the sisters in the Convent
- Teaching English to Foreign Nationals
- Taking care of the sick and vulnerable among us
- Local Bursar
- Local Leader
Georges Hill, Dublin
- Family Therapy
- Child Safeguarding
- Marriage Tribunal
- Resource Teaching
- Education Awareness
- Br Kevin’s Day Centre
- Peter McVerry Trust
- Prison Outreach
Sr Mary Turley
- Flax Trust/NI/America – reconciliation through economic and social development
- School for Social Enterprises in Ireland (SSEI) – leadership, management and business development for the social economy sector
- Brookfield Business Centre Ltd
- Flax Trust Classics – bridging the divide through music
- Bannside Development Agency Ltd –bridging the divide
- Ireland US Council (IUSC)
- Irish Association
- Institute of Directors (NI) IOD
- South Presentation Company Limited