Sister Bernadette Doherty suggested we have an “open day”! An invitation was soon posted in the parish bulletin to come and celebrate with the Presentation Sisters on Saturday, November 24. We also invited our motherhouse sisters. You may remember Pope Francis’ invited us to open our doors and let the people in. This was a wonderful opportunity!
In preparation we had a welcome sign celebrating Nano’s 300th birthday with some birthday balloons and pictures of the convent since 1964 when it was opened. We had flags from around the world showing countries where our Presentation people are ministering. In the porch our beautiful picture of Nano was surrounded by her sayings.
Our community room housed a video of our pilgrimage to Ireland with our friends of Nano. The centre of our chapel has a circle of lanterns again indicating the places we live and minister. This was our quiet, sacred space where visitors were invited to sit and be still.
The first person to arrive was Father Wayne Dohey, PP, bearing gifts of flowers from Mary Queen of the World Parish. Like a true birthday party we received other gifts. The Mercy Sisters brought a plant while some parishioners brought wine and chocolates. It was a joy to chat with some of our former sisters who were so excited about returning to share memories. One in particular wrote her religious name in brackets in our guest book. There was a flow of visitors, including one elderly lady who had been the driving instructor for the sisters when they first got their car.
Food, food, glorious food! The dining room was set with lots of homemade goodies, which were replenished at various times throughout the day. We served homemade soup and sandwiches at lunch time. The kitchen provided tea, coffee, water etc
It was lovely to welcome our leadership team and so many of our sisters from our motherhouse. They brought with them Sister Annmary from India, who is going to Dominica to minister with us. They sat and shared stories e.g. about Sister Cyprian and her rosary beads which she makes. We had received a short story from Donna about the gentleman in the post office who inquired about the contents of a package to be posted. When he heard they were beads, he wondered if he could have a pair for his mother. On receiving the pair of beads the following day, he thought he had whole world in his hands. He shared that story with all the employees in the post office and many more rosary beads were required.
We said goodbye to our last set of guests about 5:00 pm. In all we received over 80 visitors, 70 of them signed our visitor’s book. Some had come for the first time others had not been for quite some time. They were delighted to rekindle memories of the sisters our ministry, our home and to get to know more about Nano Nagle. Our home, as they recalled, had many uses over the years, a formation centre, Presentation House (which was a home for children), and now a convent for seven sisters: Bernadette, Clo, Dorothy, Fran, Kieran, Lois and Paula.
Some comments from our visitors:
What a wonderful thing to do open your home to us.
Thank you for articles about Nano, the pictures to take home
It was a gathering to remember.
We must do this again.