We continue our partnership with Sioux Falls Woman Magazine, promoting the mission of the Presentation Sisters. In honor and recognition of the 300th anniversary of Nano Nagle’s birth, each article focuses on a different characteristic of Nano. The April / May issue focuses upon Nano’s trait of Courage through a Servant Heart.
Nano Nagle: Courage through a Servant Heart
by Sioux Falls Woman Magazine writer Natalie Slieter
Nano Nagle taught Irish children in the 1700s, despite it being against the law. The bishop of the diocese she worked in insisted she stop, but she knew she couldn’t. He eventually relented, knowing the work was important, but warned her to be careful. Nano also traveled alone night after night to care for the sick and hurting. Traveling was difficult due to wet cobblestones, other treacherous terrain, and crime. She became involved in the needs of the families she met and walked beside them through their daily struggles. Nano could have taken the easy route, the comfortable route, but she chose to display courage by leaving her comfort zone.
“In her time, she swam against the current. It takes courage, tenacity, and a faith that puts your life in the hands of God,” shared Sisters Elizabeth Remily, of the Aberdeen Presentation Sisters, and Joanna Bruno, of the San Francisco Presentation Sisters.
Sister Elizabeth and Sister Joanna’s servant hearts led them to complete almost 40 years of medical mission work together. They traveled to various countries in Central America with the purpose of starting hospitals and clinics to help the locals in the area. When finished, the hospitals and clinics offered a clinical laboratory, surgery, OB services, a pharmacy, outpatient services, hospital beds for long-term stays, X-rays and fluoroscopy services, a dental clinic, and trained indigenous staff. The sisters served at each mission, from its simple beginnings, to a fully functioning transition to the local people at the end. They did this four times.
“When you go out of your comfort zone and you have the opportunity to see the needs, you realize you have the skills to do something,” Sister Joanna said.
But there were barriers caused by different cultures and languages, and initially not being welcomed by the locals. But the sisters followed Nano’s example of a servant heart, and ultimately, like Christ, to care for those on the edge of society. Their commitment and love came through in their work. When it came time to leave, the people were sad to see them go.
Sister Elizabeth and Sister Joanna encourage readers to stay up to date on current events and news to see where you can help. There are plenty of opportunities if you decide to stretch yourself and go against the stream. Practice makes the new possible, and over time it becomes more comfortable. They suggest starting at the Bishop Dudley House or The Banquet in Sioux Falls. They also say it takes courage to set aside prejudices to accept immigrants and others that may be outsiders in society.
“Courage isn’t always what you do, but maybe it’s the changing of your heart,” Sister Joanna explained. “No matter what their beliefs are or the color of their skin, it takes courage to drop our own prejudice and follow your servant heart.”
Sisters Joanna Bruno and Elizabeth Remily have been following their servant hearts for over 40 years in foreign missions. To learn more about them or the Presentation Sisters, please visit www.presentationsisters.org.
“We all have the opportunity to serve others using our unique talents and gifts. If I’m having fun helping others, I do a better job. I think that’s true for all of us. That’s God’s way of telling us that we’re on the right track. As you think about a way to serve others, choose something that sounds like fun. Whether you are leading, following or doing some of both, those you’re serving and working with will feel your joy. The joy is God’s love in action.”
– Jennifer Kirby, President of Friends of Levitt Board