Delegates of the Union of Presentation Sisters, gathered at Dalgan Park, Navan, Co Meath, Ireland have chosen a new leadership team.
The international Congregation was founded in Cork in 1775 by Nano Nagle, recently proclaimed the greatest Irish woman of all time. Since May 8, the Congregational Gathering has been receiving presentations and reports from Units all over the world, including England, India, Ireland, Latin America, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Slovakia, United States, Zambia and Zimbabwe, where Presentation Sisters and their Associates/collaborators are in ministry.
The entire Congregation has been involved in the preparatory process for this Gathering and in the Mid-Point reflection process on the weekend of May 19-21. More than 250 members of the Presentation Family, with Associates and friends gathered in Dalgan Park to get a flavour of the proceedings and to bring their voice to the work of discernment. For the hundreds of members all over the world who could not be present at Dalgan, modern technology made it possible for them to participate.
This Gathering, facilitated by Ruby Cribbin from the United States, modelled a consultative process involving all the members. This was a first for the international group of women who seek to follow the gospel path in the footsteps of Nano Nagle. But there is another first in their story! For the first time in the history of the Congregation, an Indian Sister has been chosen as Congregational Leader. She is Sr Teresita Abraham, a native of Kerala, India. She comes from a family of nine and is a teacher by profession. She joined the Presentation Sisters in 1972, was professed in 1975, and taught for five years.
She worked in Zambia for fourteen years facilitating Training for Transformation with a variety of groups, especially with people made poor. She served on the Leadership Team of the Zambian Vice-Province before being elected to the Congregational Leadership Team in 2001. She has also served on the executive team of the IPA Justice Network from 1995 to 2000. In her new role as Congregational Leader she will work with a team of four, leading the Union of Presentation Sisters for the next six years.
After her election, Sister Teresita said: "As we go forward, we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, conscious of all that has been, all that is and will be. My hope is that together we live this sacred connectedness and, in the spirit of Nano, hold the flame of love in ways that will release greater life for Earth and its peoples, particularly where these are most wounded." Assisting her, in the role of Assistant Congregational Leader, will be Sister Joan O'Sullivan from the United States Province, a native of Co Kerry, who served as teacher in Castelisland, Co Kerry before moving to the United States where she worked in education, counselling and province leadership.
She said: "I spent twelve years in community in Castleisland, Co Kerry, and worked as elementary school teacher. The Sisters there have been a strong supportive presence through all my years in the United States. My dream for the Congregation is that contemplation (finding God in the midst of everything) would be valued as the greatest form of communion among us."
The other team members are Sisters Mary Deane, Mary Hanrahan, and Emer Manning. Mary Deane comes from the English province. Born and raised in England, Mary was a teacher of chemistry prior to joining the Presentation Sisters in 1985.
In recent years she has served as chaplain at Nottingham-Trent University, while engaged in part-time further studies. She speaks of her dream "that we will not be afraid to ask and engage with the deep questions concerning our life and mission, and yet remain loving, compassionate and hope-filled."
Mary Hanrahan, a native of Kilkenny, was educated by the Presentation Sisters and entered in Thurles, Co Tipperary in 1979. She worked as teacher and as Principal in two different secondary schools before joining the leadership team in the South-East Province in 1998. She was first elected to the Congregational Leadership Team in 2001.
Mary says: " I look forward to the next six years as we continue our journey as Congregation, trying to deepen our understanding of connectedness and communion with the whole family of creation." Emer Manning, a native of Ballinacurra, Midleton, Co Cork, Ireland, entered the Congregation in Youghal, Co Cork in 1965. She has ministered in Pakistan from 1978 until now. She has worked in the Punjab and Sind Provinces. Sr Emer's hope for the Congregation is "that we will continue to share, in all our ministries, the life and hope we receive from God". All Sisters will take up their new roles at the end of August 2006 and will be based in Monasterevin, Co Kildare.
Greetings, good wishes and assurances of support and prayer continue to pour in to the newly-appointed team from across the world. For further information see: www.presentationsistersunion.org