As we began our opening prayer “… together in this holy place, land of the Lakota …” I looked around the room at the 140 sisters and other Presentation people and thought of the three sisters in 1880 in Dakota Territory coming to work with Native Americans. Here we are gathered from the four directions, coming from Newfoundland, New York, Texas, California, North Dakota and points in between, carrying on the mission of Nano. We seem to be asking how we can carry her lantern to continue her work; I am filled with the hope of our group.
~Francene Evans, Aberdeen
~Jane Conrad, Dubuque
I know God lives; I’ve had sweet encounters during this blessed day. We gathered as one and prepared to embrace the possibility of something new and sustainable on our horizon. Listening deeply, we heard tender calling for unity … oneness. With a sincere understanding, we accept the privilege to first awaken and light the spark of love within. It then became our purpose and responsibility to share the message of love with our world. Our responsibility is endless!
Everything we need has been given; the rest is up to us to do.
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” -Hebrews 11:1
~Sharon Evans, Newfoundland
Friday began by reflecting on the fun had by all at our talent night Thursday evening.The idea of collaboration permeated our day as we put the concept of “not words but deeds” into practice. Our volunteer experience was a great opportunity to learn and expand our appreciation for all of God’s creation. Nano would have been right at home in the volunteer experience of the day.
~Rita Cameron, Dubuque
This was an amazing experience to be together with sisters, associates and staff, to share in the future of the Presentation People. The conference let me reflect on all the work the sisters have done over the years and allowed me to look to the future to see a clearer path of how sisters and associates can work together to continue Nano’s mission. I have great hope that the Presentation People will grow together and collaborate for a bright future.
~Maryann Gisler, New Windsor
A Living Future
My heart sang when I saw the Gathering’s closing prayer: a modified version of Sister Raphael Considine’s “Profile of Nano Nagle.” It was a full-circle moment because the original poem was my introduction to Nano, and it is a regular prayer for our ministry at Presentation High School. As a private prayer, it grounds me, but when shared in community, it fans the flame and unifies us around our guiding light. Never have I felt this more deeply than in Sioux Falls!
The well-orchestrated events that unfolded over The Gathering’s three days planted seeds for genuine relationships to develop among us. These relationships across congregations and ministries are the sparks that will become the next candles in our cosmic walk.
Our sharing table was blessed with diverse connections reaching back to Cork, Ireland, where, as a young schoolgirl, Sister Antonio lowered her rosary beads to touch Nano’s grave for luck before her exams, all the way to Marichen, who is generously serving on Nora Cronin Presentation Academy’s board of directors to ensure Nano’s mission remains vibrant at her alma mater. Nano’s spirit and energy grew clearer as we journeyed together. Our hopeful conversations culminated in a call to be brave, cross the line and bring forward a living future for Nano’s spirit. I am so grateful for the grace that brought us together, and I know that similar stories played out at every table.
It was an honor to participate in the Gathering. Something new is stirring. Those who were present now bear personal responsibility to bring our seedling dreams to life. With God’s grace and our love, a living future for Nano is at hand.
~Holly Elkins, San Francisco
“What a blessed opportunity” was a phrase heard often during the Presentation people gathering! It was truly an experience of being called by the Spirit and led by Nano in exploration of how the charism lives in each individual there and in the congregations with which they are associated.
The energy and enthusiasm in the room was palpable as each participant enlivened the others. The opportunities for prayer, sharing and dreaming with the same small group during the three days was a valuable opportunity to form new relationships based on a common commitment to keep the charism of Nano alive among Presentation people — and to create venues for increasing the number of followers of Nano who will continue her legacy.
I was particularly struck by the number of enthusiastic and committed young Presentation people in attendance since they will be the ones to keep the lantern lit for generations to come. The service day activities at different agencies were a wonderful opportunity to put commitment into action and introduce those we worked with to Nano. What impressed me was how pleased Nano would have been to see each of those agencies dealing with marginalized people treat their guests with such respect and dignity as they work to enable them to improve their lives.
Fittingly, we concluded with a commissioning service during which each was presented with a lantern that was lighted and all missioned with keeping the flame alive as the work continues with the action groups created to carry forth the dreams of the gathering. Yes, it was a truly blessed experience and one that will continue to inspire me!
~Dale McDonald, New Windsor
On our service day, I visited Avera Health. We worked to prepare an art project for an activity called “Hobby in the Lobby” for patients and families. The theme throughout the entirety of my visit was intentionality. The hospital had clearly thought out how the mission and charism of Nano Nagle and the Presentation Sisters would be visually represented, and there was intentional design in how hospitality would be extended to all those who were being cared for there. It was clear that those seeking care were more than just a name on a chart or a code in a computer system. Finally, the Sisters themselves were intentional in the design of their community housing nearby. They intentionally designed housing that could one day be of use to the hospital when they were no longer in need. Their intentionality was a clear connection to Nano, who did legacy planning for her own ministries. Nano started her religious community to staff the schools she built, and arranged for their funding long after she was gone. Avera Health was a touching example of how mission can be embodied by all Presentation People doing the slow work of the Kingdom of God.
~Melissa Ursin, San Francisco