Presentation Sisters

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The Presentation Sisters, also known as the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary are a religious institute of Roman Catholic women founded in Cork, Ireland, by Venerable Nano Nagle in 1775. The Sisters of the congregation use the postnominal initials of P.B.V.M.

The Presentation Sisters are located in 24 countries including Antigua, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Commonwealth of Dominica, Ecuador, England, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Slovakia, Thailand, United States of America, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Presentation Sisters' mission is to help the poor and needy all around the world.

In the past, the Sisters dedicated their time to creating schools that would help to educate young people, especially young ladies. Most of these schools are still in operation and can be found across the globe.


Venerable Nano Nagle

Honora (Nano) Nagle, was born in Ballygriffin, Cork, Ireland in 1718, into a wealthy, Catholic family and had the advantage of an education in France, at a time when the law precluded the less advantaged from education in Ireland.[1] In 1775, Nagle entered with some companions on a novitiate for the religious life. With them, she received the habit on 29 June 1776, taking the name of Mother Mary of St. John of God. They made their first annual vows 24 June 1777. The foundress had begun the erection of a convent close to that which she had built for the Ursulines, and it was opened on Christmas Day, 1777. They adopted as their title the Society of Charitable Instruction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,[2] which was changed in 1791 to that of "Presentation Sisters". Their habit was similar to that of the Ursulines.

As the schools of the Presentation Sisters developed, Nagle is quoted as having said of them: "I can assure you my schools are beginning to be of service to a great many parts of the world... I often think they will not bring me to heaven as I only take delight and pleasure in them."


The second superioress was Mother Mary Angela Collins. Soon after her succession a set of rules, adapted from that of St. Augustine, was drawn up by Bishop Moylan, and approved by Pope Pius VI in September 1791. This congregation of teaching sisters itself was given formal approval by Pope Pius VII in 1800.

Communities from Cork were founded at Killarney in 1793; Dublin in 1794; and at Waterford in 1798. A second convent at Cork was established in 1799, by Sister M. Patrick Fitzgerald; and a convent at Kilkenny in 1800, by Sister M. Joseph McLoughlan. The schools, regulated at the time by a United Kingdom Government board, had for their first object the Catholic and moral training of the young, which was not interfered with by the government. The secular system followed was the "National", superseded, in many cases, by the "Intermediate", both of which ensured a sound education in English; to these were added domestic economy, Latin, Irish, French, and German. The average attendance of children in each of the city convents of Dublin, Cork, and Limerick was over 1,200; that in the country convents between 300 and 400, making a total of 22,200 who received an excellent education without charge. For girls who needed to support themselves by earning a living, work-rooms were established at Cork, Youghal, and other places, where Limerick lace, Irish points and crochet were taught. In 1802, the Sisters' example inspired the formation of the Presentation Brothers.

In 1833 a house was founded by Mother Josephine Sargeant from Clonmel at Manchester, England, from which sprang two more, one at Buxton St Anne's and one at Matlock St Joseph's. The schools were well attended; the number of children, including those of an orphanage, being about 1,400.

India received its first foundation in 1841, when Mother Xavier Kearney and some sisters from Rahan and Mullingar established themselves at Madras. Soon four more convents in the Madras presidency were founded from this, and in 1891 one at Rawal Pindi. These schools comprised orphanages, and day and boarding-schools, both for Europeans and local children.

Foundations were also established in Africa (Zimbabwe, 1949; Zambia, 1970); and New Zealand (1951). The first of a new wave of foundations from Ireland in the USA began in Texas (San Antonio,1952), followed by foundations in the Philippines (1960), South America (Chile, 1982; Ecuador, 1983; Peru, 1993); Slovakia (1992); and Thailand (1999).


Communities of Presentation Sisters exist throughout the world. However, historical and legal factors caused these communities to develop and operate as autonomous groups. Each community is independent of the mother-house, and subject only to its own superioress and the bishop of its respective diocese. A large proportion of these communities are today more closely united within the Union of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, created by papal decree on July 19, 1976. Today, more than 1,600 sisters pursue work in education and relief of the poor on every continent.

International Presentation Association (IPA)[edit]

The International Presentation Association was established in 1988 as a network of the various congregations of PBVM women, including the Union of Presentation Sisters, the Conference of Presentation Sisters of North America, and the Australian Society. The goal of the IPA is to foster unity and to enable collaboration for the sake of mission. The IPA has NGO consultant status with the UN Economic and Social Council.[3]

Union of Presentation Sisters[edit]

The Union of Presentation Sisters is a Congregation of 1,300 women working internationally in thirteen Provinces or Units. Each Unit takes responsibility for its own life and mission in response to the direction of the congregation. (The United States Province is also a member of the Conference of Presentation Sisters of North America.)

  • English Province
  • Presentation Ireland
  • Latin America unit
  • Indian Province
  • Pakistan Province
  • Ireland (2 provinces),
  • New Zealand mission
  • PBVM Philippines
  • Slovakia mission
  • Thai Mission
  • United States Province
  • Vice-Province of Zambia.
  • Zimbabwe mission[4]

Presentation Sisters in the Pakistan Province founded several notable schools, including Presentation Convent School, Jhelum; Presentation Convent High School, Murree; Presentation Convent School, Peshawar; Presentation Convent Girls High School, Rawalpindi; and Presentation Convent High School, Sargodha. The Indian Province includes Presentation Convent Higher Secondary School, Srinagar.

Presentation schools in Ireland include Cashel Community School (formerly Presentation Convent, Cashel); Our Lady's College, Greenhills; Presentation College, Athenry; Presentation College Headford; and Presentation Secondary School, Clonmel.

The Conference of Presentation Sisters of North America (CPS)[edit]

The Conference of Presentation Sisters of North America began in August 1953 under the title of the “North American Conference” when several Presentation communities in North America began to collaborate and communicate on issues of ministry, spirituality and social justice. All of these communities claim their origins from Nano Nagle. The Conference now includes eight communities, and changed its name in 2003 to CPS.[5] Together the eight communities participated in a collaborative ministry project in New Orleans called "Lantern Light".[6]

St. John's, Newfoundland[edit]

The first Presentation Convent established abroad was founded in Newfoundland in 1833 at the request of Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming, Vicar Apostolic of the island. The Presentation Convent[7] was established in St. John's, Newfoundland. Mother Mary Bernard Kirwan accompanied by Sisters Mary Xavier Molony, Josephine French and M. de Sales Lovelock came in 1833 and established a school next to the convent. This school is still[when?] in operation. Later[when?] the Benevolent Irish Society opened up their doors to the Grades 7–9 because of overcrowding. A high school was established as well. There are now[when?] fourteen houses of the congregation on Newfoundland. The motherhouse was established at St. John's adjacent to the Basilica of St. John the Baptist.

Staten Island, New York[edit]

The Presentation Convent of St. Michael's Church (New York City) was founded on September 8, 1874, by Mother Joseph Hickey of the Presentation Convent, Terenure, County Dublin, with two Sisters from that convent, two from Clondalkin, and seven postulants. Rev. Arthur J. Donnelly, pastor of St. Michael's Church as its school building neared completion, went to Ireland in 1873 to invite the Presentation Sisters to take charge of the girls' department. Upon the sisters' agreeing, Cardinal Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin, applied to the Holy See for the necessary authorization for the sisters to leave Ireland and proceed to New York, which was accorded by Pope Pius IX. In 1884 the sisters took charge of St. Michael's Home, Green Ridge, Staten Island, where soon over two hundred destitute children were cared for. This became the home of the newly established Sisters of the Presentation of Staten Island.[2] In the early 1900s, they began educating local students at St. Ann's Church, St. Clare's Church,[8] and Our Lady Help of Christians.

Countess Moore High School was founded in 1962 by Francis Cardinal Spellman and the Presentation Sisters of Staten Island. Originally an all-girls school, in September 1969 it became co-educational and changed its name to Moore Catholic High School.[9]

San Francisco, California[edit]

In November, 1854, five Presentation Sisters arrived in San Francisco from Ireland at the invitation of Archbishop Sadoc Alemany. Mother M. Joseph Cronin was appointed as the community's first superior, but due to unforeseen circumstances, she returned to Ireland in 1855 with two other members of the small community, Sisters Clare Duggan and Augustine Keane. The remaining sisters were Mother Mary Teresa Comerford, who assumed the role as new superior and Mother Xavier Daly, and their first postulant, Mary Cassian. The Sisters had great difficulties in their early founding years; but succeeded in interesting prominent Catholics of the city in their work. By 1900, the San Francisco Presentation foundation established two convents and schools within the city limits named Presentation High School, San Francisco and one in Berkeley, California named Presentation High School, Berkeley.[10] They also staffed schools in Gilroy and Sonoma, California.

Presentation High School San Francisco was an all-girls school.[11] The main building was built in 1930 at 2340 Turk Street. In 1991 the building became University of San Francisco's Education Building.

San Jose, California[edit]

The Presentation Sisters opened Presentation High School in 1962. The school still operates as an all girls Catholic high school.

Dubuque, Iowa[edit]

The congregation was introduced into the Diocese of Dubuque by Mother M. Vincent Hennessey in 1874.

New Windsor, New York[edit]

In 1886 Mother Magdalen Keating, with a small group of Sisters, left New York at the invitation of the Rev. P. J. Garrigan, (later Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa), to take charge of the schools of St. Bernard's Parish, Fitchburg, Massachusetts. The mission flourished and established other foundations in West Fitchburg and Clinton, Massachusetts; Central Falls, Rhode Island; and Berlin, New Hampshire. In 1997, the Sisters of the Presentation of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and the Sisters of the Presentation of Newburgh, New York, united to form one congregation, now based in New Windsor, New York.[2]

Aberdeen, South Dakota[edit]

In 1886 some sisters from Fargo went to Aberdeen, South Dakota, and, under the guidance of Mother M. Joseph Butler, took charge of schools at Bridgewater, Bristol, Chamberlain, Elkton, Jefferson, Mitchell, Milbank, and Woonsocket, as well as two hospitals. In 1922, what is now called Presentation College opened in Aberdeen. The college primarily educated nurses for the northern portion of South Dakota. [12]

Fargo, North Dakota[edit]

The Fargo, North Dakota community was established itself in 1880 under Mother Mary John Hughes, and took charge of a free school, home, and academy.

The Union of Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (U.S. Province)[edit]

A new wave of foundations from Ireland began in 1952. In 1976, in response to the invitation of Vatican II, a number of autonomous Presentation Congregations came together as one Congregation. This new Congregation was established by the Papal Degree. Its title is, The Union of Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Member communities are those of:

  • Robertsdale, Alabama (1979)
  • Phoenix, Arizona (1989)
  • Cypress (1963), Huntington Beach (1966), Los Angeles (1978), Montclair (1959), Oakland (2003), Orange (1965), San Bruno (1970), Upland (1955), California
  • New Orleans, Louisiana (1991)
  • DeGraff, Minnesota
  • Long Beach (1994), and Shaw (2010), Mississippi
  • San Antonio, Texas, (1952); (2)
  • Chimbote, Peru[1]

Australian Society of Presentation Sisters[edit]

On Friday 20 July 1866 Mother Xavier Murphy, four professed sisters, and five postulants set out from Fermoy to make the long perilous journey to Tasmania. The group boarded The Empress at Queenstown, Ireland, and arrived at Hobart three months later to open, at Richmond, the first Presentation convent and school in the Southern Hemisphere, under the auspices of its first archbishop, Dr. Daniel Murphy.[13]

On 21 December 1873 six sisters and a postulant arrived in Melbourne from Limerick to found a convent and school at St Kilda, the summer resort for the growing capital of the newly established colony of Victoria. In May 1874, five sisters arrived in Wagga Wagga from Kildare; and in August 1886 three sisters and seven postulants from Lucan arrived in Lismore.[13]

The party of four sisters and five postulants who arrived in Geraldton, Western Australia in July 1891 was made up of three sisters and one postulant from Sneem, one sister from Mitchelstown, one postulant from Tipperary and three from Cork. Sisters from Wagga Wagga established new foundations in Elsternwick (1882), Hay (1883) and Longreach (1900). From Hay a group travelled in 1900 to the goldfields of Western Australia. This group formed a union with the Geraldton Congregation in 1969.[13]

In 1946 the major superiors of the seven Presentation Congregations in Australia agreed on common Constitutions. In 1958 Pope Pius XII approved the formation of the Society of the Australian Congregations of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The first school founded in Australia was Avila College in Melbourne, other schools and colleges followed.

Watervliet, New York[edit]

The Presentation Sisters of Watervliet, New York elected not to join the Conference of Presentation sisters of North America and remain a separate congregation.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Union of Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary". Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Our Story". Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  3. ^ "IPA Statements at the UN – International Presentation Association". Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  4. ^ ""England – Our Story", Union of Presentation Sisters". Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  5. ^ "Presentation Connections". Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2014-10-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Presentation Sisters – Home Page". Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  8. ^ "Presentation Sisters". Church of St. Clare. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  9. ^ "Moore Catholic High School: Our History and Mission". Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Presentation Sisters to mark 150 years with April 10 celebration in Berkeley". The Catholic Voice, Oakland, 21 March 2005.
  12. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Order of the Presentation" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  13. ^ a b c "Our History «  Presentation Sisters". Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  14. ^ "Welcome – Iona Presentation Primary School". Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  15. ^ "Mount St Patrick College, Murwillumbah – Home". Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  16. ^ "Welcome to Our School : Nagle College Bairnsdale". Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  17. ^ "PCW Melbourne – Girls Catholic College". Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  18. ^ "Home Page". Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  19. ^ "St Mary's College". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  20. ^ "St Mary Star of The Sea | Carnarvon". Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2006-12-31.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2006-12-31.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]

United States

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Order of the Presentation". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.