31, Jul

Dangerous Dream of Lady with Lantern

Author: admin2

Dangerous Dream of Lady with Lantern

At a time in Ireland when English rulers made it extremely difficult for Catholics to receive an education and reduced much of the Catholic population to ignorant servitude, Nano Nagle took the dangerous decision to start a school. Turning her back on a life of privilege and at the risk of severe prosecution for disobeying unjust laws, Nano Nagle dared to carry out a dangerous dream of educating the poor children of 18th Century Ireland.

Local historian, Dr Noela Fox PBVM, has recently published a book which chronicles the histories and stories of ‘Presentation’ ministries. A Dangerous Dream recounts the story of Nano Nagle, a wealthy Irish woman who shares ancestry with the British Royal Family.  She devoted her life and work to improving conditions for Irish Catholics during the Penal Period.  In the face of social, economic and religious sanctions she began the first urban system of education for the poor in the then British Empire.  Nano Nagle also established the first Congregation of Religious since the Reformation in the British Empire.

This is the seventh book which Sr Noela’s has published, and it focuses on the work undertaken by Presentation Sisters in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in the last three centuries.

“It is important to write the story down, or it is forgotten,” Sr Noela said.

Launching the tome, Congregation Leader, Sr Susan Miller PBVM, said that “Holding and sharing the human story of our life as Presentation women is an essential ministry and Noela’s gift as a cultural historian is much appreciated”.

The book chronicles Nano “being deeply wounded by the sight of so many affected by ignorance . . . the Word of God chained by injustice and the little ones crying for bread . . . and Nano being unstoppable in her efforts.”

“Noela paints a vivid picture of this unstoppable woman who acted out of concern for the whole person, addressing the physical, emotional and spiritual needs in her dedication to the personal dignity of all she met,” Sr Susan said.

“Nano’s nightmare of a distressed people deprived of their faith and crying out for justice led her to a dangerous dream for a world where justice and equity prevailed,” Sr Noela wrote.

“This dream became a reality in so many lives of Presentation women and men over a time span of  238 years since the Congregation was founded in 1775. In this book, Noela gathers and celebrates the stories of some of these women,” Sr Susan said.

The second section of the book focuses on the work of Presentation Sisters in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in the 19th, 20th and early 21st Century who have been prominent in working for social justice.  They are educators, missionaries, social workers, protestors, thinkers and writers – women who have dared and are daring to have dangerous dreams.

“Noela’s focus on Presentation Sisters of Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand is proof that Nano’s wish to be of service in any part of the world was not a pipe dream,” Sr Susan said.

This article & photos by Dominic Byrne, “Together” July 2013 Wagga Wagga Diocese NSW

Sr Noela Fox

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