Not Words But Deeds

In the winter of 1963, Fr. Peter Caslin, the first pastor of the parish, was in dire need of teachers for the new Saint Irenaeus school scheduled to open in the fall. Several other Catholic schools in Orange County were also in desperate need. As the story goes, Fr. Caslin had a relative in Ireland who was a Presentation Sister. She was able to put a good word in for him with the Mother General. With Mother Lourdes blessing, four Presentation Sisters were soon on their way to Saint Irenaeus.

Arriving just a few days before the first day of school, the sisters were greeted with too few desks, incomplete classrooms, and construction material scattered around the property! Nevertheless, all was ready on September 9 when 277 children in grades 1-4 arrived for class.

As a young woman, Venerable Nano Nagle, the foundress of the Presentation Sisters, was saddened by the poverty and academic neglect she saw around her. This inspired her to bring education to underprivileged children who were deprived of school. In 1754, she opened her first school in County Cork Ireland.

Her faith and dedication drew others to her side. More schools soon followed along with a growing number of devoted helpers. In 1775, Nano Nagle and three more like-minded women began their Novitiate.

Most of us know about the sisters’ dedication to education; however, they are also known for their involvement in social justice, hospitals and nursing, immigration ministries, and work with the poor. Today the Union of Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary are found in over 20 countries around the world: from New Zealand to Thailand, from India to Peru, from Ireland to Slovakia, the sisters are living Nano Nagle’s belief that “by degrees with the assistance of God we may do a great deal.”

At the heart of the Presentation Sisters is their love of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Their feast day is the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Presentation Sisters have been and continue to be a treasure to the parish as well as the surrounding communities. They are a blessing and we are so grateful for them!