Primary contactCathedral Square
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
CA A1C 5L4
The Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation was founded by Nano Nagle in 1776 in Cork, Ireland. Miss Nagle was educated at home and in France. When she returned to Ireland, where the penal laws prohibiting Catholic schools were still in force, she undertook "to labour for the instruction of the poor." By 1769 she had organized seven schools throughout the city of Cork, all secretly rented and staffed at her own expense. Eventually, she persuaded the Ursuline Order to sponsor a community in Cork to undertake the education of girls as boarders and day pupils. However, the children who could not attend school inside the enclosure of the convent were still not being educated, so in 1775, Nano Nagle and three other women of like mind formed a small religious congregation known as the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Their main purpose was to teach the children of the poor. After their foundress' death in 1784, the name of their religious congregation was changed to the Order of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In 1833, Bishop Michael Fleming of Newfoundland went to Ireland and requested the Presentation Sisters from the Galway community to establish a mission in Newfoundland. In a deep spirit of generosity, four of the Sisters volunteered. They were: Sister Mary Magdalen O'Shaughnessy, Sister Mary Xaverius Lynch, Sister Mary Bernard Kirwan and Sister Mary Xavier Maloney. They arrived in St. John's on September 21, 1833 on the brig Ariel and the Sisters opened their first school on October 21 of the same year. There were 450 children eager to be admitted.
The formal organization of the materials that had accumulated within the congregation since 1833 was begun by Sister Mary Teresa Francis Tobin in 1972 and has been continued by the Sister Archivists ever since. The first record keeper for the Presentation Congregation was Sister Mary Agnes O'Keefe.