Presentation nuns host Cork celebration for Nano Nagle
By Sarah Mac Donald -
22 November, 2013
The Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary saw the Presentation Sisters come together to celebrate the Church’s recognition of their foundress, Nano Nagle, as Venerable.
Hundreds of Presentation Sisters and their co-workers gathered in St Finbarr’s South Church in Cork City on Thursday to give thanks to God for Nano Nagle’s (1718-1784) contribution to the Church and her work for the poor of the city.
Congregational Leader, Sr Mary Deane, PBVM, said, “In the shadow of where Nano Nagle set up her first small school on Cove Lane we are celebrating the enormous impact she has had on the world.”
She added, “It is wonderful that her legacy and life has been acknowledged by Pope Francis” who declared that Nano Nagle was a woman of heroic virtue.
“Today we walk humbly in an echo of Nano’s footsteps as we celebrate in the church where she herself prayed more than 200 years ago and we honour the legacy of her charism at her graveside.”
Sr Mary Deane, PBVM, Congregational Leader
Nano Nagle founded the Presentation congregation with four associates on Christmas Eve 1775.
In her address towards the end of the Mass, Sr Mary Deane said the most fitting tribute to Venerable Nano Nagle was for her followers to “become like her and to be bearers of light and people of faith, creativity and passion.”
“She lived, worked and walked these streets and yet her mission was for the whole world. She may not have lived to see this global enterprise which began very close to here but she believed in it.”
“Despite uncertainty and disappointment, she trusted in God and believed in his future providence – that with God all things were possible. The flame was lit by Nano here in Cork and has since been carried all over the world.”
The Congregational Leader said she was deeply moved and challenged by the way that Nano’s story is being shared and lived out today by countless women and men who have been touched by her vision, her passion, and the witness of her life.
“We are called to continue to fan the flame of faith. May love be our lantern flame.”
Speaking after Mass, Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin, who concelebrated the Mass at St Finbarr’s, said he attended in order to “support the Presentation Sisters who are doing wonderful work” in his diocese.
He paid tribute to Sr Lucy Troy, the postulator of Nano Nagle’s cause, for her “wonderful work” since 1978.
Asked about the significance of Nano Nagle for Ireland and Irish women, Bishop Nulty said, “The charism that she possessed in her life is one that carries all of us through – men and women. This isn’t a gender issue; this is about leadership in our Church and community. Today is a wonderful day for Ireland and the Presentation Sisters and I am delighted to be part of it,” he told CatholicIreland.net
Bishop John Buckley of Cork and Ross who was the main celebrant said the name of Nano Nagle “lives indelibly in the hearts and minds of Cork people.”
“I remember when I was growing up, the older people used to talk about Nano Nagle and her great work especially for the poor. She lived at a very difficult time in the history of Cork – a time of unemployment, mass poverty and emigration. Her dedication to the people – despite many setbacks – was unremitting,” Bishop Buckley remarked to CatholicIreland.net
A special graveside ceremony was attended by Bishop John Buckley of Cork and Ross; Dean Nigel Dunne of St Finbarr’s Church of Ireland Cathedral; a representative of the Ursuline Sisters; as well as representatives of the Benedictine Sisters of Kylemore Abbey, the Mercy Sisters, the Presentation Brothers, Christian Brothers and Associates of the Presentation Sisters and Friends of Nano,
Sr Ann Coffey spoke on behalf of the Presentation leadership of the South West province and described the graveyard as “a very historic part of Cork city – made holy by the faith of many generations of devout men and women.”
She said it was fitting that they should be there to pray and reflect at the tomb of Nano just before going to celebrate the Eucharist. “If we wish to honour Nano today, we too must commit ourselves to Eucharistic living.”
She told those assembled by the grave that it was “fitting that we give thanks to the Ursuline sisters. Nano Nagle desired that she be buried at St John’s cemetery for the poor, not too far from here.”
“But the Ursuline Sisters at the time offered a burial plot in this garden cemetery and their offer was graciously accepted.”
She noted, “They along with the Presentation Sisters already regarded Nano as venerable and realised that many would wish to visit her grave to pray.”
Among the hundreds of people who attended the Mass were descendents of the Nagle family.
The service was streamed online by Church Services TV so that Presentation Congregations around the world could join the Sisters in Cork in their celebration and joy.