We are called to awaken
to the Spirit of God
present and active in all that exists;
to a spirituality of being in communion;
to participate in the universal mission of Jesus Christ. C3
We, the Sisters of the Presentation of Newfoundland & Labrador, are called to be women of contemplation living in community, united in charity, joyfully and generously serving God and God’s people, with special attentiveness to Earth and those made poor. (Our timeless 1983 NL Congregational Charism Statement)
Our ministries are ways in which we share our individual gifts and collective charism to respond to the challenges endemic or arising in our world. The fundamental challenge before us is worldwide and timeless. We are continually called to help bring forth a society built on respect for the Earth, human rights, peace and economic justice for all, especially women and children, who are typically most affected by unjust systems.
As we strive to keep Nano’s lantern spark aflame, we network with others as together we seek solutions to the same challenge – to be in communion with all of life and to be midwives of a spirituality of peace, justice and integrity of creation. Just as our ministries respond to a fundamental challenge, so are they highly interconnected and often overlapping, as may be seen below, sometimes as a quiet prayerful, supportive presence, sometimes as a more active pastoral presence, and often as an inseparable blend of both.
Our contemplative stance is part of our way of being engaged in life and ministry and at the same time holding Sacred Space for our world. That stance also finds us exploring, inviting and engaging with others in a variety of contemplative traditions in keeping with a spirituality of communion with all of Life as ONE.
For us as Presentation Sisters, our Prayer Ministry is what gives birth to and permeates our evolving ministries, feeds and sustains them and us, and helps shed light on new paths beckoning us forward as part of God’s unfolding dream for our world. As one person expressed it, we are “weaving prayer through all we do.” Truly a blend of contemplation and action.
Together as one, daily we hold Sacred Space for our Earth and our world, often in response to specific prayer requests for Earth and those made poor through challenging personal or societal circumstances, natural disasters or those of humankind’s own doing, or other causes, or for myriad other special intentions.
In a very profound way, our retired Sisters at our Motherhouse, as part of their very active Prayer Ministry, are truly a “Powerhouse of Prayer” in their holding of that Sacred Space.
Should you have a special intention for yourself or for someone else, please be assured that we will be figuratively “Lighting a Candle” for you as our Sisters, Associates, and other Presentation People continuously unite with you in prayerful support within our Sacred Space.
On the island of Newfoundland we maintain two Centres, one on our west coast and one on our east coast, whose vision includes providing a welcoming space for spiritual seekers in a peaceful, supportive environment.
Nano Nagle Spirituality Centre (Officially closed as of December 2023)
Promoting healthy bodies, healthy minds and healthy spirits
We are deeply grateful to
Sr Betty Daniels
and all who served in this ministry
so generously and faithfully
for so many years.
Located in Barachois Brook, in western NL, this former private residence had been re-purposed as a place of peace and healing for all, fostering a spirituality of peace, justice and reverence for the whole of Creation. Those who came always found warm hospitality, and a listening, supportive, welcoming presence.
The Nano Nagle Spirituality Centre has a spacious garden with convenient access to walking trails and the ocean, as well as a guest bedroom and adjoining kitchenette for visitors. The Centre offered quiet space for reading and reflection; areas for discussion groups and keynote speakers; care and support for those pursuing self-care, self-understanding and positive decision-making in challenging times; and a wealth of helpful resources (books, and audio/video recordings) that visitors may borrow.
Those who ministered here support guests’ self-care and self-actualization through spiritual guidance, days of prayer and reflection, and health and wellness workshops.
Virginia Water Contemplative Centre
A sacred space of welcome … celebrating our relationship with all of Creation
Virginia Water Contemplative Centre is located on the edge of the city in St. John’s, NL. This is a space of welcome and hospitality where we gather to honour and celebrate the sacredness of all creation. We are a Centre dedicated to the nurturing and wellness of the whole Earth community as articulated through The Universe Story which fosters the reverence, sacredness, value, interconnection, and communion of all of Life.
The mission of the Centre is rooted in fidelity to the evolving Universe Story, The Earth Charter and the mission of the International Presentation Association (IPA) to “speak and act in partnership with others for global justice from a contemplative stance in a spirit of oneness with the whole of creation”.
We are dedicated to creating supportive community. We invite you to join us in a variety of learning opportunities and Sharing Circles that are founded in silence, contemplative listening, and respectful dialogue. We offer a variety of earth-based rituals and contemplative practices that guide us on our unfolding spiritual journeys.
Guided by The Universe Story, we seek to deepen oiur connectedness, communion and interdependence with all that exists.
Nano Nagle saw education as a path out of poverty for the powerless and vulnerable. For us as Presentation Sisters, education always has been and always will be intrinsically a Social Justice Ministry.
Nano’s schools also consistently included life skills, academia, the arts and faith development. For more about Nano and our Presentation founding story click HERE.
Nano’s story inspired a similar response among our founding Presentation Sisters who came from Galway to Newfoundland in 1833. Education became our primary ministry focus in addressing that basic need among Irish immigrant families throughout Newfoundland & Labrador.
A little over 100 years later, 63 schools had been established in 38 communities province wide. The story of our education ministry has included founding schools, offering teacher training, serving as teachers, administrators and School Board Consultants in Newfoundland & Labrador’s formerly denominational education system, as well as teaching at the University level. Our Sisters worked in both urban and rural schools, including in the St. Alban’s/Samiajij area of Newfoundland and the Davis Inlet area of Labrador, which are also home to two of our Indigenous peoples, the Miawpukek Miꞌkmaq and Mushau Innu, respectively. While we did not establish a convent or school in Labrador, our Sisters served there as educators, in Pastoral Care and Social Work.
Read more about the history and development of our education in a Symposium Presentation by two of our Sisters on the Journey of the Presentation Sisters in Newfoundland and Labrador as presented at the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Roman Catholic Cathedral-Basilica in St. John’s in 2005.
After Newfoundland & Labrador’s transition to a non-denominational school system in the late 1990s, when Religious Education ceased to be a core part of the curriculum, Parish Catechetics became a greater focus for our Congregation. Our Sisters have continued to provide Religious Education/Faith Formation in parishes, both as catechists and as members of Parish Catechetical Teams. We have also served as Parish Administrators, mostly in more remote areas of on the island portion of Newfoundland, as well as in Labrador, always at the invitation of the respective Bishops. That has often also included serving as Spiritual Animators in facilitating Adult Faith Programs, Sacramental Preparation, Liturgy of the Word, and home visitations.
Sr Betty Quinlan leads a catechetics class
Click HERE for Sister Ruth O’Reilly’s
Reflection on Parish Ministry in Labrador.
Other Education ministries evolved over time as needs emerged, sometimes as a Sister’s main life-long ministry focus and often in response to new and changing needs as our Sisters retired from the provincial school system.
Read more: our evolving education ministries
Sisters Loretto Croke and Mother de Sales Walsh wonderfully exemplified life-long ministry in their teaching private music students well into their 90s. In August 2003. one music student of Sister Josephine O’Sullivan wrote an article for our daily paper, The Telegram, expressing her deep gratitude and highlighting how our Sisters faithfully and selflessly went that “One Pace Beyond” in making music lessons available to as many as possible. Read this touching Telegram Article.
Sister Mary Taylor, on retiring from teaching in our regular school system, volunteered for several years at the Brother T.I. Murphy Centre, in collaboration with the NL Irish Christian Brothers in St. John’s. Its mission was to support young people 18 years of age and older who had fallen through the cracks in the education system and offer them a second chance in an environment more conducive to their success in obtaining the equivalent of a High School Graduation Certificate, opening up increasing possibilities for them for life. In our Union You Tube video, “Leaving No one Behind”, Mary reflects on how the regular system did not meet their needs and that they were certainly those who were left behind. In Mary’s own words, “Nano really lived the Gospel. She knew that if the Gospel is not Good News for the poor, then it is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Sister Helen Bonia who had previously ministered as a school teacher and administrator, as well as at the School Board and Department of Education levels, was invited in her late 80s to offer individual tutoring with a young woman who had similarly fallen through the cracks in our system and whose life and life opportunities were transformed beyond words as a direct result of Helen’s outreach to her. Helen followed through with her for several years, indeed until into her early 90s. while, Sister Jean Whelan played an amazing role in opening to her the world of technology, so integral to life in today’s world.
Re-envisioning our Education Ministry
Just as Nano’s mission expanded beyond Ireland, often by invitation as with Bishop Fleming’s 1833 request for Sisters to come to Newfoundland as teachers, so also did ours. In the 1970s our Newfoundland & Labrador education ministry began expanding beyond NL shores.
In the mid 1970s Sister Corona Wyse was invited to teach at Catholic University in Washington DC after completing her studies there. Additionally, invited by Newfoundland & Labrador’s Christian Brothers, we practiced collaborative teaching in their inner-city Toronto school from 1977 to 1989, while also offering Music and Counselling.
Another major broadening of our collaborative education ministry involves Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Canada.
In 1997 Sister Miriam Martin began a full-time teaching ministry at Saint Paul University, where she served in various teaching and leadership roles until she formally retired from her teaching position in 2021.
Miriam continues to engage with the University as an Adjunct Professor, particularly through St. Paul’s Providence School of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality, in the Institute of Transformative Leadership, which has facilitated the birthing of our Presentation Sisters Transformative Servant Leadership Program in collaboration with our Union Congregational Leadership Team.
Read more: Other Ottawa Education Collaboration
Further expanding our horizons in education, in 2007, in collaboration with the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland, we funded a Mercy/Presentation Sisters Chair in Religious Education at Saint Paul University, with Miriam already serving as Director of Religious Education there.
We have worked there with other women religious to establish and evolve the study and practice of spirituality-inspired leadership. In 2011, with the support of and in collaboration with the Sisters of Service of Canada, the Centre for Religious Education and Catechesis was established. It was co-founded by Dr. Myrtle Power and our Sr. Miriam. It continues innovative research today under the capable leadership of Dr. Carol Kuzmochka.
In 2017 with the support of the Sisters of Providence (Kingston, ON) the Providence School of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality at Saint Paul University was founded. Miriam served the School as its founding Director until her retirement in June 2021. The Providence School continues to develop programs and collaborate in many areas of leadership development.
Click here for a 3-minute video presentation prepared by Saint Paul University in 2020 for more about the Providence School of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality Program (PSTLS).
Miriam’s engagement with PSTLS was helpful in establishing the Union of Presentation Sisters Transformative Servant Leadership Program. This is a joint venture between Saint Paul University’s Providence School of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality and our Union of Presentation Sisters with the Commission for Education for Leadership. Sisters Mary Deane, Miriam Martin, and Alba Rodrigues were appointed in 2019 with Sister Anne McDermott as CLT link; in fall 2022 Sister Numba Mukeya was added to the Commission.
In September 2021 and October 2022, the first two cohorts of the Presentation Sisters Transformative Servant Leadership Program received Certificates of Completion and a third cohort has begun with twenty new sisters. In Sr. Miriam’s words, “What a wonderful experience of mutual learning that is supporting leadership development among us.” In this new ministry we have once again shared our Presentation charism from Ireland to NL and from NL to Ireland and all around our Presentation world.
As of November 2022, we are collaborating with twenty other Canadian Catholic religious congregations in two related initiatives.
The School of Integral Ecology at St. Paul University will create academic programs dedicated to the study and advancement of the synthesis of integral ecology in the spirit of Laudato Si.
The Office of Integral Ecology (ORCIE) will enhance the capacity of Catholic religious congregations to collaboratively increase their impact on policy change towards social and ecological justice at the national and international level. Sister Clo Martin, from our NL Provincial Leadership Team, is our representative on the ORCIE Board.
West Indies: Dominica & Antigua
In the early 1990s our education ministry expanded also to the West Indies, where Nano had first sent her catechists as lay missionaries outside Ireland. Our presence there in both Antigua and Dominica was again by invitation, God using others to do the beckoning beyond the familiar and the safe and secure, ever “one pace beyond”. (Raphael Consedine, PBVM)
We continue to minister in Dominica in an evolving education ministry. Initially, on our arrival in 1993 at the invitation of the Christian Brothers already active there, our ministry primarily involved teacher training and mentoring, as well as teaching and administration. Our involvement since 2009 has since taken on a whole new focus on fostering life skills among adolescents, through a program known as CALLS, (Centre where Adolescents Learn to Love and Serve), which had actually begun in 1995.
For over 25 years CALLS has been offering transformative programs for at-risk adolescents, facilitating the development of hundreds of youths into responsible well-rounded individuals and empowering them to live successful lives through the acquisition of new, practical skills for life and work, a strong work ethic and an aptitude for entrepreneurship and service.
See Sr. Marilyn Doyle’s Reflection for more on our beginnings in Dominica.
See Sr. Betty Rae Lee’s Reflection on Calls for the 20th Anniversary Celebration in 2014.
See more about Dominica and CALLS, its beginnings and our continuing ministry there.
From 1995 until 2019, at the invitation of the Bishop, we were engaged in a variety of ministries in Antigua. Sister Elizabeth Kennedy volunteered for the first three years as a support for the Primary school teachers, and also as a substitute teacher when needed, as did Sister Margaret McLaughlin for the following span of 4 years. Sister Paulette Nugent served initially as Principal of the Primary School and then in other Diocesan roles. Paulette was our last Sister in ministry in Antigua. She returned to Newfoundland in 2019 after 24 years of service.
Click Here for Elizabeth’s Antigua Story.
Click Here for Paulette’s Antigua Story.
Sister Paulette as Principal presenting books
to the children and their teachers
Further Broadening our Education Lens
Today, we view education through an ever-broadening lens, supporting myriad learners and seekers in new, creative and life-enhancing ways, as our Charism continues to find dynamic expression through an always evolving focus on education and social justice initiatives in response to the needs of the time.
One of these emerging education initiatives includes finding ways to share and encourage exploration of the New Universe Story, inviting a deeper integration of a creation-centered spirituality of communion with all of life. As we seek to facilitate the weaving of the New Universe Story more integrally into the fabric of life, we offer it as a unifying thread that gives new and richer texture and deeper meaning to one’s lived experience as part of a global community in the 21st century.
Moment of Creation
(Image from James Web Telescope)
We continue to extend that ever deepening and evolving invitation to the wider community of seekers and learners by also creating a wider range of opportunities through our networking with others of like mind. Creatively availing of the rapid and timely emergence of more and more on-line technologies, such as Zoom and other live streaming services, opens up vast new ministry avenues previously undreamed of.
Another broadening of our lens is through the offering and supporting of various programs and initiatives rooted in mindfulness as a way of living, with its deep roots as well in other contemplative or spiritual traditions, both ancient and contemporary. Many such programs and initiatives can be found at The Virginia Water Contemplative Centre, The Nano Nagle Spirituality Centre and also at The Lantern.
The Lantern (opened in 1997)
Community Life Centre in the heart of St. John’s
This extension of our former Presentation Elementary School, 35 Barnes Road, was renovated in 1996 and repurposed to serve as a centre fostering healthy, vibrant community life in the historic downtown core of St. John’s. The Lantern has transitioned to become a Community Life Centre, inclusive of all seekers.
The Lantern, with its modern, easily accessible space, is primarily a host site, facilitating programs and events that support personal and community wellness, explore individual and collective spirituality, and pursue justice for the underprivileged, marginalized and vulnerable.
Every year the Lantern hosts multiple organizations and programs that bring thousands of people into the facility. Those range from small groups focused on spiritual, physical and emotional wellness, to summer camps for children and youth, to large non-profit conventions and fundraisers, and much in between!
The Lantern also hosts the Ruah Centre, a year-round tenant offering subsidized personal and relationship counseling. Additionally, the Lantern provides free access to peer support groups and social justice not-for-profits with compatible missions to serve and advocate for the disenfranchised and vulnerable.
The Lantern is separately incorporated and has charitable status. The Presentation Sisters own the property and lease it to The Lantern Community Life Centre. While The Lantern is operated by professional staff under the direction of the Board of Directors, the NL Province of Presentation Sisters continue to financially support the ministry.
For more about The Lantern, its programs and its meeting and event spaces, visit the website at https://thelantern.ca/.
Pastoral, Holistic & Health Care
A way of Being and Being Present … for Life … in the support of the whole person …
As Presentation Sisters, our charism calls us to extend what we name as a pastoral presence, integral to all our Presentation ministries. “Pastoral presence” has many faces and conjures up myriad images. It most often connotes compassionate ministry to those experiencing especially challenging life situations. Familiar examples would include visiting the sick and imprisoned, comforting the grieving, caring for the poor and offering them new opportunities, reaching out to the immigrant community, indeed, ultimately doing whatever is needed accordingly in the form of personal support in the footsteps of Nano Nagle.
A wonderful recent example would be the supportive telephone ministry with the visually impaired initiated by Sister Sylvia Staples who in 2014, while she was in ministry in Dominica, experienced a sudden and unexplainable loss of sight in one eye, and shortly after coming home lost sight in the other. As part of her adjusting to her new reality, she had became very involved with the CNIB (Canadian National institute for the Blind). Soon her telephone ministry expanded into other involvements, a truly pastoral presence birthed from her own life experience. She starts each day with deep gratitude to so many, for so much, and does what is in her power to do. Her message: You still are who you have always been, only without your sight.
That same pastoral presence is also woven into the way we are with one another as Presentation Sisters living together in Community.
In its essence, pastoral presence is deeply reflective of a practice more commonly referred to as Pastoral Care. Pastoral Care is a recognized ancient practice of offering emotional, social and spiritual and other support to those in need, a practice found in all cultures and traditions. It involves active listening and gentle relating with individuals at vulnerable times in their lives, helping them to access and activate their own sense of self, their inner resources, resilience, and capacity to cope and to live more actively engaging and fulfilling lives. It has by nature a deeply supportive component, and implicit in that is an equally deep invitational component. It can often also include spiritual accompaniment for those who simply seek fuller, happier, healthier, more meaningful and fulfilling lives.
Sr Regina Quigley in a counselling session
Sr Sylvia Staples in her telephone ministry for the visually impaired
Sr Catherine Burke praying with Sr Lillian Wakeham, who is visually impared.
Sr Sheila Leonard welcomed by Prison staff for her T’ai Chi Chih session
CLICK HERE for Sheila’s Reflection on her Ministry at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary …
As Presentation Sisters of Newfoundland and Labrador, our main ministry focus has been education, especially for young girls and women. That continued to be our primary focus for well over a hundred years, though Health Care has also been an important ministry focus.
Over the years, our Sisters have engaged in Health Care particularly at our own Motherhouse. We recall them with deep gratitude and fondness. We remember Sister Mary Felicita Grace, who in the late 1930s became our first Registered Nurse, having trained at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. With her we remember Sister Columba Hepditch who had also begun nursing training with Sister Felicita and was called back home after two years to fill a Motherhouse need. We remember Sister Mary Cabrini Miles, initially a Registered Nurse with roots in England who as a lay woman had served on our NL west coast as Matron of the Hospital there. We remember Sister Vianney Lawlor who was perhaps the first to train as a Nursing Assistant, to be followed by Sister Eileen Emberley and in more recent times, Sister Marie Furey.
For Sister Sharon Fagan, who had begun her ministry as an Elementary School teacher, very early on came the call to move away from education within our school system and into Health Care. Sharon also provided nursing care at our Motherhouse, and also as a Public Health Nurse, with its practical nursing as well as education domains. After 20 years in Public Health, Sharon now serves in Congregational Leadership, while also still serving as a Health Care resource where appropriate.
Click HERE for Sharon’s own telling of her story.
Gradually, Health Care at our Motherhouse has become more the domain of professional lay women and men, in constant consultation and communication with our Provincial Leadership Team Health Care contact.
Read more: Our Pastoral Care Ministries
Pastoral Care continues to find expression in our ministry through the different experiences of informal and formal mental health support which our Sisters have offered over the years and still do today. That often includes personal counselling, couples, marriage and family counselling, group dynamics counselling, counselling for veterans, addictions counselling, trauma, grief and bereavement counselling and much more, all as and where needed. For many years, our Sisters offered these services as part of the former St. John’s Archdiocesan Family Life Bureau which has since birthed The Ruah Counselling Centre, which is housed at The Lantern.
In our unfolding pastoral ministry context, Pastoral Care also includes facilitating modes of emergent holistic thinking and lifestyle practices that help cultivate optimal wellness through what is often referred to more specifically as Holistic Self- Care. Its deeply invitational dimension includes a heightened emphasis on fostering self care, self-empowerment and self-responsibility on all levels and throughout the various aspects and stages of one’s life
This sometimes includes engaging in a suite of energy-related ministries, often born of an individual Sister’s own life experience, dedicated to the fostering of whole-person health and wellness, supporting, and helping to awaken and cultivate an individual’s own innate capacity for healing by optimizing one’s own inner energetic resources. While some might view these practices as akin to “alternative” medicine or health practices, another lens would see them clearly as “complimentary” to other healthy practices. Among the variety of energy focused wellness-promoting practices our Sisters have been and/or continue to be engaged in are Healing Touch, Massage, Meditation, Mindfulness, Reiki, Shiatsu, Tai Chi Chih, Wisdom Healing Qigong, and other less specific energy-related modalities and practices.
Our Sisters continue to engage in these varied aspects of Pastoral Care in a wide variety of settings, within our province of Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond our NL shores.
Presentation Sisters from Newfoundland & Labrador have served both as staff and as volunteers, as part of both Memorare and Emmaus House in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, USA, which offer personal growth and development programs for women religious throughout North America and beyond. Sr Sandy Butler ministered on site at Emmaus House and Memorare for several years and now continues to provide on-going virtual support to former program participants, as well as occasional in-person support. Additionally, in the broader context of Pastoral Care/Pastoral Presence as personal accompaniment, she is also involved in Vocation/Formation Ministry (Learn more on our What Guides Us page under Vocation & Formation). In that same broader context, Sandy is also the Link Sister for our Presentation NL Associate Relationship (Visit our Partnering page to learn more about our Associate Relationship.)
While our striving to offer a pastoral presence has permeated all of our ministry through the years, some formally or more informally, it is becoming more of an increasingly conscious focus, as our Presentation ministries continue to evolve.
Pastoral Care beckons us to new and innovative ways of responding to new calls, new needs …
“Behold, I am doing something new.” Isaiah 43:18.
Alongside, and often integral to our Incorporated Ministries, our Sisters are or have been engaged in a wide variety of Ministry areas.
Of particular mention, and again with deep gratitude, would be the many Sisters who have served and continue to serve in our intra-congregational ministries, some as a primary ministry focus and others in their retirement from another ministry.
See our more inclusive ministry listing below.
- Adult Faith Formation
- Archives – Congregational
- Art and Design, including Greeting Cards
- Associate Formation
- Counselling & Psychology
- Diocesan Director for Pontifical Missions
- Diocesan Educational Consultant
- Education (Teaching, Teacher Training, School and School Board Administration, Department of Education Consultancy, and University Education, Mentorship, and Program Development)
- Health Care:
- Public Health Nursing
- Nursing Administration
- Nursing Care at our Motherhouse
- Holistic Health & Energy Healing Modalities
- Local Justice Network (JPIC)
- Parish Administration, Music & Office Ministries
- Pastoral Care
- Hospital Chaplaincy
- Motherhouse Communuty
- Outreach to the Poor and Homeless
- Seniors’ Nursing Homes
- Refugee Housing and Integration
- Renewal/Retreat/Spirituality Centres
- Residence for Adults with Complex Mental Health Needs
- Rosary Bead Ministry
- Spiritual Direction
- Spiritual Animation Committee/Team
- Vocation & Formation
Provincial Leadership Team
Motherhouse Coordinating Team
Clerical, Administration, Finances & Archives
Tech Support & Communications
Food Service, Housekeeping & Haircare
Motherhouse Library, Reception, Chapel & Music
Holistic & Relaxation Therapies
Hospitality, Tours & Transportation