History of Presentation Presence in Pakistan
In 1895 Presentation Sisters, Mother Ignatius McDermott, Sr Xavier Lonergan and Sr Evangelist Coatsworth arrived in Rawalpindi from Madras (India) and took up residence in the former convent of the Jesus and Mary Sisters. The first Mass was celebrated on 8 September 1895 and the school was opened on 1 October with three Sisters, three pupils. The school was for children of Christian parents, the sons and daughters of army personnel, British and Irish.
Mother Ignatius McDermott was the founder of Presentation Convent Rawalpindi, she was appointed as the first Head Mistress of the school on 1 December 1895. On 15 February 1896, the school was placed on the list of recognized schools. Mother Ignatius opened the door of education and pastoral care for the children of Rawalpindi which was then part of the Sub-Continent. Since then, thousands from all religious denominations have attended the Presentation Convent School.
In September 1898, the Sisters also built an orphanage on the convent grounds for forty girls from Ajmer, India, who had left due to famine. In the meantime, the number of students continued to grow and buses and horse-pulled carts were used to bring students who lived at a distance.
The annals and the school logbook recorded every step they took in the years that followed. The picture portrayed is thickly overlaid with dark shadows of struggle, disappointment, disease and loss, with occasional shafts of bright light between. The first three convents and schools (Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Murree) were all situated in British military cantonment areas. They were engaged mostly in teaching the children of military personnel. It was for this they had come. The schools were registered as European Type and had a European Code of Rules. The number of native Indian pupils admitted were not allowed to exceed fifteen per cent. The overwhelming majority of the people living around them were Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. In 1908 Mother Columba O’Sullivan returned from Ireland with seven would-be postulants. As the years passed more Irish postulants gradually swelled the ranks and new foundations were made in the Sub-Continent.
The Sisters continued to answer the needs of the times, providing education for the women of India/Pakistan. They opened the first college for women in the North West Frontier Province. The Sisters continually planned for two schools in each area so that the Punjabi Christian children could have access to Christian education.
The British gave India her independence on 15 August 1947. Independence inevitably brought in its train the partition of the country. Delhi was found to be on the Eastern side of the border, Srinigar in a disputed area and the the five convents in Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Murree, Sargodha and Risalpur were all in the new country, Pakistan. The Hindu girls had gone, and their places were now taken by Muslim pupils.
In 1948, five young Punjabi girls came to live with the Sisters. This was the seed that gave birth to future Punjabi vocations. After partition in 1947 the Catholic Church emerged as a real indigenous Catholic Church. In January 1948, the new diocese of Rawalpindi was created. From 1951 onwards, many young Pakistani women joined the Presentation Sisters. In 1955, some Irish Sisters started going home for holidays for the first time.
The school first opened with three pupils and three Sisters, but today the Presentation Convent High School has more than 1,700 students from Year 1 to Year 10. Among the school’s students were former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who studied there for a few years, as well as Major General Dr Shahida Malik and Dr Maleeha Lodhi.
New Presentation Foundations made after 1895 (pre-partition) were:
Tando Allah Yar
This year has been a very mixed one due to frequent lockdowns to prevent Covid 19 spreading.
Pastoral/Social Work Tando Allah Yar: The ministry to the people in the villages continued with the pastoral team visiting as much as possible. But the poverty of the people is rising because of lack of labouring work due to Covid 19. There is some change in the landlords’ ways. Frequently people are being ordered to move off the landlords’ land with no notice. They are asked to pay some money to the landlord as he says they have a debt even though they have been working for a few years or many years for him. It seems that there is a law that if the people are living a long time on the land the village becomes government property. All of this is very unclear, but a pattern of eviction is emerging. The Kohlis feel helpless and fearful in the face of this and just move on. But this frequent moving is detrimental to their ability to earn a living.
At the parish centre a good doctor comes on Sundays and treats the poor people without
remuneration. The parish pays the doctor for his two hours work. This is very helpful to the people. We have also re-started the village literacy programmes. So far 7 centres have begun where women, girls, boys, and men are studying basic literacy, numeracy and health education. This beginning is being funded by the Nano Nagle Solidarity Fund. There is great interest in these sessions and two pastoral workers/supervisors are diligently working for this. The co-ordinator is Emer.
The Hostel in Tando Allah Yar: There are 36 Kutchi Kohli Girls at present with us in the hostel, all are under 16 -17 years of age. The hostel provides for the religious, educational and physical needs of the children. Sr Nasreen looks after the hostel. This year due to Covid-19 the schools in Sindh Province were closed from 13 January 2021 till 30 April. The 9th and 10th class children could go to school, but the younger children could only go for homework. We kept the girls in the hostel and provided some tuition classes for them. Because of Covid we did not have Easter celebrations in Tando Allah Yar for the people in the remote villages. The children’s parents did not visit so the children were very disappointed. The exams are pending sometime in May. The children have also begun to learn sewing. The Nagle Solidarity Fund helps to subsidize the hostel. It is a diocesan hostel, but the diocese has very few funds. With the co-operation of the Sisters and the diocese the children get an opportunity to study. Some of the parents pay a minimal hostel fee, which is gathered after the harvest.
St Mary’s Presentation School: Sr Mehwish Javed took over the school as Principal on 24 September 2020. It was a new difficult and challenging responsibility. There were different restrictions due to Covid-19, however the school activities went on at a small level. On 10 October 2020, a captains’ ceremony was held where Captains from all the classes took the oath for fulfilling their responsibility. Children were very happy to receive their badges and sashes from the Principal. Regular classes went on for all the students. Monthly tests were taken, and 1st term results were based on monthly tests. In the beginning of December 2020 once again school was closed for primary section and regular classes were given to the middle and senior section. Sr Mehwish arranged different workshops regarding Maths, Urdu and English for the primary section teachers to revise the preparation and planning of the lessons with proper methods. On 20 December 2020, a sports day together with sharing of the meal among students, was arranged for those who attended the school regularly to encourage and appreciate them for their good attendance. 21 December 2020, we celebrated Christmas dinner along with the celebration of silver jubilee of one of the teachers, Sir Mohan Dharmoon, who is teaching in one of the branch schools in Karachi Hotel. It was a great and blessed day for all the staff of St Mary’s School Tando Allah Yar which was closed for Christmas. On 7 January 2021, the school reopened for the staff. Sr Mehwish arranged a workshop for the whole staff regarding the child safeguarding policy. She helped and encouraged the teachers to see to the needs of the children to try their best to provide a healthy and safe environment for the students. On 13 January 2021 we reopened the school and once again started the regular classes for all the grades. In February Second term exams were taken and parents were called to collect the result for their children. On 5 March 2021 Sr Mehwish went to Pindi for her Final Profession preparation. In her absence Srs Nasreen and Emer supervised the school. We are grateful to God for all His blessings for the staff and students, of St Mary’s Presentation School.
Pastoral and School Report Tando Adam: As the primary aim of our work in Sindh is to bring the Good News to the Kutchi Kohlis I, Sr Regina, visit the people with a Catechist in their villages. There we do bible services and prepare those who ask to become Christian for Baptism and Holy Communion. As part of our village visiting, we provide on-the-spot first aid for fevers, infections etc. and we give vitamin tablets for women and children.
Local women from Kutchi and other tribes come to our house for medical help also.
I supervise 5 one teacher village Primary schools in country areas also. Approximately 425 children attend these schools, 55 of whom are girls.
During the past year approval has been given to buy a two-acre plot where one of these village schools is situated. This future Catholic village will be a big step ahead in consolidating our work among the Kutchi Kohlis D.V. Sr Gretta looks after St Philip’s school in Tando Adam. She works in the school as well as seeing to the faith formation of the Punjabi community of the surrounding areas. She prepares people for Baptism and Holy Communion, decorates the churches in St Philip’s and St Joseph’s. Visitation of families is done on a regular basis.
Tando Allah Yar Community
We at Risalpur Community have been carrying Nano’s lantern of hope, love and compassion to different people around us. We are involved in different activities which help people to strengthen their faith. We are a Community of three Sisters and all of us are actively involved in school and pastoral ministry.
Due to Covid-19, the activities have been limited. Still, we tried to keep mission and ministry going through:
We have been visiting different areas of our Parish. We visit sick and needy family from time to time especially at times of bereavement and sickness.
We have been bringing Eucharist to sick and old people.
We involve Friends of Nano for helping us to visit different families.
Financial help is given to the very needy.
As the outside ministries are limited, more time is given to reading and praying.
In these difficult times we pray for our world and people continuously.
Online classes: Since March 2020, Rislapur school has been conducting online classes during the period of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. From September to November, we were happy to have regular classes in groups, following the Standard Operations Procedure (SOP). In January 2021, the school reopened again as the Covid-19 situated improved a little. We were happy to have regular classes, final exams and result. The new academic session started with online classes as schools are closed again in April 2021.
Presentation Day Novena Prayers and Celebrations
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, although we were not allowed to have any gathering but for Presentation Day Novena, we decided to have a gathering for classes 1 to 10 following all the safety instructions of social distancing and wearing of masks. The gathering for the for the Novena was a pleasant change in the school environment and felt bit like normal!! Our Presentation Day celebrations started with Holy Mass at 7:30am. Fr Tom celebrated the Mass and made it very special for us. Later the Sisters celebrated Presentation Day with all the school staff. Teachers prepared very nice items to honour Mother Mary, Nano Nagle and Presentation Sisters. During this celebration we were very happy to join Mrs Nasreen Suran (school ancillary staff member) in celebrating her 25 years of committed service in Presentation Convent School Rislapur. Teachers prepared special drama for Mrs Nasreen honouring her services for the school and staff members. Along with this we also had two “Mehndees (Hina ceremony)” for two teachers who were going to get married in the first week of December.
First Communion: 6 December was a happy and exciting Sunday for Sisters, three schools and the parents, as the children received their First Holy Communion. Total of 32 children from Risalpur Convent, St Joseph’s and St Mary’s schools received Communion. For Rislapur Convent it was a little extra special as our workers, teachers and office staff children received Communion. Fr Tom was the main celebrant. It was a lovely occasion. After Mass all the children were invited to the Convent school for a tea party arranged in their honour.
Advent Prayer: Sisters arranged special prayers for the teachers and workers as we began the Advent season. All the Christian teachers and workers took part in it. Prayer was held in our Chapel.
Holy Thursday: Due to Covid-19 restrictions, after Holy Thursday Mass there was no exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the Church. The Sisters arranged for the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in their Chapel. Many school staff members along with their families came for the prayer and exposition. Together we prayed, reflected on the Word of God and sang hymns.
Friends of Nano: Friends of Nano are very active in Rislapur. They are members of the school teaching and office staff. The continue visiting and helping the families in need. They hold Rosary prayers with the families. During Advent and Lent season, they pray with different families in their own areas. They have regular meetings to plan their activities.
Youth Ministry: In Risalpur, the majority of Christian youth (Boys) either do not go to school or do not complete studies. Many of them are on drugs. In this situation, the Sisters thought of helping some of the youth financially in order to provide some skills for them. We have sent 8 young boys to learn Driving Skills. Some more young boys have been sent to learn Barbering Training Courses which hopefully will help them in their future life to support their families.
Presentation Sisters in Mother House, Rawalpindi are involved in various ministries. Mother House is also a Formation Community with a Novitiate attached to it.
Two schools are run by Presentation Sisters in Rawalpindi. Presentation Convent High School belongs to Presentation Sisters and Sr Rehana is the Principal of this school. St Teresa’s Girls High School belongs to the Diocese but run by Presentation Sisters. Sr Akhtar is the Principal of this school.
Sr Rehana writes about Rawalpindi Convent School as follows:
Online Classes: Due to Covid-19 pandemic, schools were closed for nearly 6 months. We the management, teachers, students and parents learnt the new methods of teaching and learning during this time as we started and continued online classes through WhatsApp and YouTube medium.
Celebrating 125 years of existence: 125 years of excellence in service means a lot in the history of any institution. St Anne’s Presentation Convent School, Rawalpindi is one of the most highly esteemed educational institutions that appeared on the horizon on Tuesday, 1 October 1895. The school has successfully completed its journey of 125 years.
8 September 2021 is a year when we celebrated the 125th anniversary of the arrival of Sisters in Pakistan. I was wondering how we could celebrate this special anniversary in the middle of the pandemic. We contacted the parents and children and asked them if they were interested in the celebrations. A number of students came and took part in the celebrations.
The chain of celebrations started from 8 September with the display of banners on the outside walls of the school’s building. The banners hold the dignity and honour of the school. It is the day when three valiant Irish pioneers Mother Ignatius McDermot along with Sr Evangelist Coatsworth and Sr Xavier Lonergan, reached Punjab, Rawalpindi in 1895, carrying Nano’s Lantern and the Bible. When the three Sisters reached Rawalpindi, they had to face many difficulties; yet out of difficulties grew miracles and they were able to continue with their mission of imparting education, first to the British and Irish children of the soldiers and then to the locals. To salute these pioneers their graves were visited by the teachers, students, sisters, auxiliary staff, management and office staff. The graves were strewn with wreaths, flowers and candles were lit in their memory.
To mark the school’s foundation day, 1 October 2020, sweets were distributed among the students. At 11am the whole school and the parents stopped and prayed for the prosperity of the school and asked God for his guidance and blessings. A colorful get-together was arranged in the evening. The Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, His Excellency Dr Joseph Arshad, Unit Leader of Presentation Congregation, Sr Riffat Sadiq and Fr Anthon graced the occasion as guests of honour. The light and colours of fireworks made the evening vibrant with happiness all around. The ceremony was inaugurated with a cake cutting ceremony by the guests and the management. Every bit of that cake carried the blessings of love, happiness and success as ingredients which were shared among the guests and hosts. The jubilance of the evening continued when the digitally recorded program started playing on the screen. The footprints of Mother Ignatius along with Sr Xavier and Sr Evangelist, were shown and beautifully enacted by the students. How difficult was the time and situation under which they carried the dream of Nano with passion all the way from Ireland to Madras, Rawalpindi (now Pakistan).
To build a strong foundation, strong shoulders are needed on which we stand and reach the height of success. The students beautifully depicted the Galaxy of Principals who had put forward their untiring efforts to make this institution one of the most prestigious one.
Every one of us must have the courage to became a voice of voiceless, depressed, diseased and shunned out by the society. We here at Presentation Convent School Rawalpindi are educating our future generation to become a voice of such people.The dance performance of the students of class 4 and 5 showed the diversity of our culture.
The program ended with the speech from the Principal Sr Rehana Mehnga in which she remembered the past with gratitude, presently creating a school community characterized by mutual respect, tolerance, cooperation, excellence in education, professionalism and enlightening the lives of future generations. The speech ended with firm hope that we will continue our journey and endeavour like Nano Nagle to go “One Pace Beyond” what is expected and to continue to build bridges of friendship and respect for many years to come.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls”. (anonymous)
The evening came to an end with the lavish dinner enjoyed by the gathering.
Training and workshops:
Leader in Me:
This year we have introduced a new subject to the students, called “Leader in Me”. We feel that every child has an ability to be a leader and we would like to give awareness to the children that all of them have ability to be a leader and how they come to know about their strength and weakness. At the end of March, we had training for the teachers for three days so that they were able to teach this subject. The training went very well. The highlight of the training was “Seven Habits of Highly Effected people”. It helped the teachers to know themselves and each other.
A two-day workshop was arranged for the teachers about “Creative Problem Solving” which was facilitated by Sr Shazia Lal. It helped the teachers to solve the problems creatively when working with students and parents. Sr Shazia gave a two-day workshop to the Principal and the Coordinators regarding “Change Management and Leadership”. What is change and why is change difficult? We felt that it was a suitable topic for us and it helped us to see where do we need change and why change is required?
We also had one day workshop with Fr Emmanuel Asi regarding the “Pre-history of the Bible and the Prophets of the Old Testament”. The Christian teachers attended the workshop.
During this pandemic time, I feel I was never idle. I had a lot of work to do in school and we kept on working with the help of coordinators and office staff. At the end I would thank God for blessing us with good health and life.
Sr Akhtar writes about St Teresa’s school as follows:
Situated in the heart of the city St Teresa’s Girls High School is committed to the vision of Nano Nagle and is promoting the value and dignity of every child. Every individual under our care is respected and nurtured by all.
Our mission statement is,
“We, at St Teresa’s Girls High School, are committed to the child centered education that is helpful in promoting physical, emotional, intellectual and moral development of an individual. We provide a friendly environment to our students and are dedicated to their protection and welfare”.
All the school policies are carried out under Nano’s universal mission effectively for the promotion of quality education.
For the effective planning and smooth execution of the school affairs, a team of coordinators for primary, middle and high section of the school respectively, facilitates the management.
The teaching and non-teaching staff of the school work together with a professional attitude to provide a learning environment to the students for their overall developments.
Workshops and seminars are organised during the year to teach syllabus effectively and creatively, which is helpful for the students in their practical life. Awareness regarding the Covid 19 and how to follow the Standard Operations Procedure (SOP) sessions were given by Dr Insha Ghazzi and Sr Akhtar.
Special attention is paid to the poor in our school. Those who really deserve are given fee concessions and attention is also given for their spiritual growth as well. The Christian students are also blessed with Holy Sacraments such as Holy Communion and Confirmation at different levels according to their age.
The students are given due attention to instil moral values to help make them better human beings in their practical lives. They are also taught to care for nature and keep their environment neat and clean. They are also taught to respect and care for each other. “The child safeguarding policy” is adopted in the school to ensure protection of every child.
Sustainable Development Goals set by UNO, are carried out in the school. The cultural heritage of Pakistan is shared with a number of countries and the school also won a shield in this regard.
The school followed by SOPs set by the government and students and teachers followed. The daily attendance was reduced to 50% and students came to school on alternate days.
Sr Gulnaz Anwar is the Novice Mistress, and she writes about her ministry as follows: It is my great pleasure to share with you some life-giving ministry experiences of mine in the area of Formation as a Novice Mistress, especially during this time of Covid-19. We have accepted Covid-19 as a time of great difficulty for the world but also a time of blessing in so far as it has opened us to dialogue and conversations through zoom. Through zoom we were able to explore new learning and new positive experiences for the young and energetic women we are accompanying in the Novitiate.
The activities which have taken place are as follows.
Inter Unit Virtual Novitiate:
The formation of the Inter Unit Virtual Novitiate Program was launched on 11 February 2020 with the help of CLT. In this program novices from four countries are participating, Ireland, Africa, India, and Pakistan.
This new step, moving one step beyond, has really given a new insight to the novices into the area of ONENESS. The purpose of this program is to give the novices an understanding of the wider Congregation and to introduce to them the meaning of being in communion. Holding one vision of Nano Nagle with our unique diversity.
How to travel together in this life-giving emerging program? Several people have generously offered to give input to the novices on different topics. Judith King worked on appreciating and acknowledging with respect each other’s cultures, and the importance of diverse cultures. Sr Lisa Pires beautifully presented a few sessions on prayer life.
Some of our Presentation Sisters give their service joyfully to our Formation ministry. Sr Anna Sheehy from Co. Limerick Ireland takes weekly classes with the Novices on different topics from the programme. The novices from Africa have also joined us for these classes. Sr Mary Coloe, a Presentation Sister from Melbourne in Australia is a very well-known Scripture scholar especially for her work on the Gospel of St John. She is Professor of Scripture at the University School of Divinity in Melbourne and has written many books and articles. Every Monday she is offering lessons on Scripture to our novices. The novices from Africa and India join us for these very interesting sessions.
Sr Christine in Mother House takes English classes four days a week here in the novitiate with our novices. She gives them wonderful help in public speaking, poetry, and proper pronunciation. Srs Roberta and Shahnaz have both undertaken to teach a section of the novitiate program assigned to them on a weekly basis. All of this has opened the novices to a wide variety of experience and learning for which we are very grateful.
Due to the Covid-19 situation our visitation to the poor families and school ministry work has been badly affected as we cannot go out among people. At the same time, we thank God for the other opportunities which we are availing of everyday by the grace of God.
CHRISTIAN STUDY CENTRE MINISTRY (CSC)
Sr Shazia Lal works in Ecumenical and Research centre, called Christian Study Centre in Rawalpindi. The main and foremost pillars of the Centre are ecumenism, interfaith and intra-faith harmony. By initiating dialogue among all faiths and even within the church the vision and mission of CSC, is accomplished through peace building.
I am responsible for a program “Developing Contextual Theology” which is implemented in the centre for the past number of years. My core responsibility is planning, organising, management and documentation of the program. Some of the components of the program are: Information Theology and Christian Formation (ITCF). This project is particularly designed and implemented only for Christian youth and students in formation. School of Theology (ST) is also one of the components where scholars come to the events and give talks on topics like Theology, interfaith harmony, peace building and on many of the societal issues. Through the discussions and talks a strategic way forward is prepared for our Christian community.
Al-Mushir which is a journal and is published four times a year by the centre is also part of my responsibility and job given to me. Along with that, organising seminars and conferences according to the vision and mission of CSC, is part the above-mentioned program.
Seminar in St Teresa's Girls High School
Students in St Teresa's Girls High School
Students in St Teresa's Girls High School
Inter Unit Virtual Novitiate
Sr Teresita Abraham and Brigit are exploring the Spirituality of Being in Communion through a variety of ways.
St Teresa's Girls High School
Presentation Sisters in Peshawar are involved in different ministries. Our main ministries are in Education, Visitation, Vocations Promotion, Friends of Nano and Involvement in Church Activities.
C44: Our ministry enables each Sister to use her gifts appropriately and fruitfully for building up the body of Christ. Our Sisters have been using their full potential, gifts and resources for the mission and ministry of the Congregation.
We all know that Covid-19 has both positive and negative impacts on our lives, Covid-19 gave us a chance to build genuine relationships, to reflect on our mother earth, to pray and relax but despite all this positivity, it has affected our ministry.
Even though it was difficult to go out because of Covid-19 we still made an effort to visit people who were sick, old, disabled and depressed. Prayer is the main source of energy and healing, so we prayed and nourished them with the Word of God and gave them Holy Communion.
Some deaths happened in our parish. We attended funerals and shared in family suffering. We also attended some weddings and shared in the festivities.
Peshawar Community went to Kohat Parish for the Vocation Promotion Programme. We asked Fr William Rahat to invite us to the programme with the young girls and we joined them on this occasion. At the end of Holy Mass Fr William Rahat provided us with the chance to exchange our thoughts and ideas with the people. Afterwards we met the girls individually, took their contact numbers and are still in contact with them.
We had planned to go to different parishes to have more Vocation Programmes with the girls. Unfortunately, it could not happen this year, but we hope we will be able to achieve this aim in the coming year.
Teachers from Presentation Convent and St Michael’s Convent school have arranged Sunday School for kids on a regular basis. To strengthen the faith of the children they tell them different stories from the bible and teach them how to sit in the church. Sisters are also helping the teachers. They had also planned to visit the families, help needy ones, teach the students who are struggling in education but unfortunately at this time they could not do it.
Different groups work in the church so our Sisters also participate in the church activities. They get energy, enthusiasm and encouragement by working with them. As all the activities happened inside the church it was easy for them to get involved. Sisters also helped them on different occasions like Christmas and Easter.
As Pope Francis has declared this year “Year of St Joseph” Sr Sumble Rockus and Sr Zarish George helped the groups to prepare plays on the life of St Joseph. It helped the groups to understand the qualities and life of St Joseph.
Education is our main ministry. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide. Our school system was also affected, and our academic plans were not achieved successfully.
During Covid we went through some critical conditions on the educational side, such as.
Socially – Financially / Economically – Physically – Psychologically
Despite the challenges, we continued education through online classes.
Presentation Sisters in Murree feel privileged to live in the beautiful Murree hills and to engage in the dialogue of life with both Muslims and Christians.
Both staff and students work together as one and we thank God and those who went before us for this. Christians form a small minority of both teachers and students. All are taught in an atmosphere of love and respect. Both they and their Muslim friends aim at being “fully alive”.
This March all the teaching staff had a session on Child Safeguarding. It was conducted by the School’s Lay Principal, and three coordinators, with the help of two Sisters. It was encouraging and edifying to witness the participation of the teachers and to realise how aware they are of the abuses the children in Pakistan face.
There are about fifty Christian families of different denominations here. Every Sunday a priest comes for the celebration of Holy Mass. One of our Sisters prepares the readings and choir every second Sunday, while the Jesus and Mary Sisters take care of Sunday readings and choir every alternate Sundays. For large occasions, our singing teacher – a Muslim Shiah – loves to play the keyboard.
Last October five pupils (four boys and one girl) from the Jesus and Mary Convent School and ten girls from our school received the Sacrament of Confirmation in the parish church during Sunday Mass. This was preceded by team work in preparing the students, preparing the church, choir etc. Our Bishop, Rev Joseph Arshad, spoke very encouragingly to the Congregation, those receiving the Sacrament and their parents.
Fr Jacob remained in Murree for all the Easter ceremonies and readings and singing were prepared by the Sisters from both convents. Prior to that, the Stations of the Cross were led by different families every Friday. They were helped and encouraged by our Sisters.
Community Leader teaching SDGs
SDG School Assembly
Sr Ghazala is working as a Principal and a local leader in Khipro. She writes: We have twenty schools in Khipro. These schools are situated in rural areas. Year 2020 was a year of surprises and a frightening time for us. All the schools were closed and we were not able to do the activities what we wanted to do with our people. Churches were closed. People mostly stayed at home. We had lots of rain in August 2020 in Khipro. These heavy rains brought floods. People’s houses were broken and flooded. Ten of our village schools were destroyed with these heavy rains. We are very grateful to our donors for all the help for our schools and for the people. We also got help from MNA Shazia Mari. She provided tents for the people who came on the roads because of the floods.
Even though the life seemed tough and fearful we still enjoyed life in the Community and with the people. We also celebrated Sr Farkhand’s renewal day.
We had no internet but still our teachers were teaching children in their houses.
Our children did plantation in main school and in the village schools. They brought plants from their houses in order to make their school beautiful. CBE from Hyderabad did workshops online with teachers. Teachers were very happy to have these workshops in order to make their teaching method effective.
Sr Clare and Teresa James did some programs about Corona Virus with women in different villages. They held health and hygiene sessions with the women. There is a need to be very careful about food – making sure of having sufficient nutrition for children especially but also for the whole family.
Tents for those affected by the floods
Celebrating Sr Farkhand's renewal day
Celebrating Sr Farkhand's renewal day
Children planting at school
Children planting at school
It is hard to find the words to express the deep gratitude, joy and peace that is in my heart for all the blessing and graces that we as a Community have received during the past year. I was assigned as a local leader of Josephabad Community and Principal in St Joseph’s Middle School in August 2020. There are two more young Sisters with me in the Community.
Sr Saima who is ready to make her final Vows and Sr Rebecca a junior Sister. We started our journey as the youngest Community in the Unit in August 2020. I was pleased to have very young and full of life members in the Community. During the last 9 months we laughed together, and we cried together, and we experienced the closeness of the Divine unconditionally through each other and through the people of Josephabad. I am delighted to share some of the experiences and activities that took place in Josephabad. Our very first and big task was to re arrange the house according to our own taste and comfort so three of us with the help of co-workers did this big job with great excitement. (see photos below).
Journey with the Lord is the only source that is helping us to live a life fully. We as a Community decided to continue the Rosary and Friends of Nano groups, and with the help of them prayed the Holy Rosary in the whole village. Three of us took an active part in all the celebrations of the church to strengthen our faith.
Another very enriching experience happened during lent. We had holy hour with the people, and we also prepared them for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To our surprise nearly the whole village was blessed to have this Sacrament. Through this experience, I personally experienced the mercy and the healing touch of the Lord.
Apart from praying with people we as a Community are very faithful to our own spiritual journey too. Every month we have a recollection and faith sharing day. Holy hours and Adorations for different intentions are also part of our daily life.
We as a Community faithfully continue to hold all the people whose names are written in our intention book, in our hearts and prayers.
It is the greatest blessing of God to have good health and energy to live a life which is full of joy, and God’s unconditional Love, which is sometimes hard and challenging too. And I have experienced this love of Divine presence in my Community.
To make this life easy and joyful for each other we give space to one another. We have regular Community meetings and sharing of our joys and challenges that we face in day-to-day living. We had been to different places to relieve the tension and stress of our work. It is amazing how Nature can take away all our worries and make us calm and peaceful and energize us to start life again. Watching T V, having walks and dining together is also an opportunity of spending quality time with each other.
We are blessed to have young Sisters and I am blessed to celebrate their lives. Sr Rebecca renewed her vows in August in the presence of Rev Fr Kashif Jamil our Parish Priest. Sr Saima renewed her Vows in January in the presence of Sr Riffat, our Unit Leader. Indeed, both celebrations gave life and hope to the Community.
For three of us our main ministry is in the school. Apart from school ministry we go out for visitation. It has been a privilege bringing Holy Eucharist to sick people which has brought us closer to Jesus.
On 12 November we started our Presentation Day Novena with teachers, students and with the Friends of Nano. It was a very enriching experience we had with the laity. Presentation Day was celebrated with the teachers and with the Friends of Nano as the school was closed due to Covid-19.
The month of December was full of celebrations. We celebrated Christmas with the old people. It was a wonderful experience to see the joy in old people who were neglected by their own. Special Mass was been offered for them which filled them with joy.
To continue to celebrate the Birth of Our Lord we had prayer services with our co-workers and Pastoral team too. Seeing every one excited filled us also with great hope.
To share the joy of Christ’s Birth we went to Rakh Rajhr, a very poor village for the Christmas program. The children prepared a lovely drama and tableau. Sr Saima with the help of Master Mukhtar prepared the program very well.
As I look back on the year 2020, I feel, that we the Sisters were very much aware of the needs of the people around us, and our resources were shared generously to help the poor and the needy. We bought warm clothes and shawls for the old people at Christmas.
This time of Covid-19 has helped us to live mindfully and become aware of the needs of the poor. So as Our Way of Life calls us to spend ourselves for the poor, we managed to help the needy families by giving them food items during Christmas time. This was just a way of letting people know that we are with them at this pandemic time.
We continue to thank God for His many blessings and ask for His help as we strive to serve Him and His people here in Josephabad.
Sacrament of Reconciliation
Sr Rebecca renewed her Vows
Sr Saima renewed her Vows
Josephabad Community and Sr Riffat (Unit Leader)
Children's drama in Rakh Raihr
Sr Saima and children in Rakh Raihr
Prayer service to celebrate the Birth of Our Lord
In Jhelum the main ministry of our Sisters is in school and education. Sisters are also involved in pastoral work by going for visitation of the Christian families. They also arrange Youth and Vocation Programmes for the young women.
The Presentation Sisters are committed to following the vision of Nano Nagle by promoting the dignity and worth of each and every child where every child will be respected and nurtured by all.
The school consists of two campuses ie Girls’ Campus from Prep to Metric and Boys’ Campus from Prep to class 5. From 2017 till January 2021 the school was run by the Manageress, Sister Teresa Baily along with the lay principal, Mrs Noreen Shafique. Currently, Sr Bina Yousaf is the Principal of the school.
The teaching and non-teaching staff work collaboratively following the “Employment Rules and Regulations” with professional attitude, which provides a safe and clean learning environment, to the students for the overall development of their personalities. The in-service training workshops and seminars are organised frequently during the year which helps to enable the teachers not only to teach the syllabus effectively and creatively but also to inculcate moral values in students so that they can become confident and capable citizens in their practical lives.
Following in Nano Nagle’s footsteps, special attention is paid to the poor in our school. The majority of them are on concession in their tuition fee and many of them are being taught free of cost as well. Those who belong to illiterate and poor family backgrounds are given individual attention academically, enabling them to benefit from the quality education. Special attention is also paid for their spiritual growth.
Holy Masses and religious sessions are arranged on and off during the year to foster their individual faith in Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian students are also blessed with Holy Sacraments such as Confession, Holy Communion, Confirmation etc at different levels according to their appropriate ages.
The “Presentation Sisters” are also contributing a lot in collaboration with the UNO to attain the selected Sustainable Development Goals out of 17 which are; Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 2: Zero Hunger, Goal 4 Quality Education, Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.
The Staff and students are made aware of the significance of these selected goals through workshops and discussion sessions. The students are encouraged to work for these SDG’s through the morning assemblies, tableaus, role plays, speeches, songs etc. frequently throughout the year.
Students preparing for Holy Sacraments
Students preparing for Holy Sacraments
Students are working for SDG’s
Students are working for SDG’s
Students are working for SDG’s