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Celebratory Mass - Address by Sr. Mary Deane

29 November 2013


With a heart full of joy and gratitude I stand before you on this momentous occasion to say a few words on behalf of all of us who are inspired by the life, vision and mission of Nano Nagle.  We rejoice with Venerable Nano aware that the harvest we reap today is born from the seeds sown and the work of so many who have gone before us.  We thank God for the gift that Nano is to us and to the Universe.

Today’s celebration is the fruit of much labour and although it’s always dangerous to mention people by name, there are some people who need a special mention.  On behalf of us all I would like to say a word of appreciation and thanks to Sr. Lucy Troy, our Postulator for the Cause of Nano, who gave us such an inspiring reflection. 

Sr. Lucy officially began this process in 1978 when she was Superior General of the Congregation.  In 2009, having said "Yes" to the request to become the Postulator for the Cause, she embarked on a new journey in which she had to learn Italian, complete a course for Postulators and live in Rome.  Thank you Lucy for your generosity, your willingness to be of service and your work in bringing the cause of Nano to this stage.  It has been said by many “that no better woman could have done it” and Lucy I say this as a great tribute to you.  So on behalf of the Presentation family around the world I express our deep gratitude to you and congratulations on a job well done. 

Another person who comes to mind is Sr. Pius O’Farrell, for her commitment and contribution in writing the Positio to further the cause of Nano.  Maybe it’s no coincidence that only a few months after she died we heard that the Theological Commission was meeting to discuss Nano.  We are also delighted that members of Pius's family are here with us today.  I have no doubt that Pius is rejoicing with Nano and all those who have gone before us who have been faithful to Nano’s vision and spirit.  

So many people throughout the world have contributed over the years to fanning the flame of Nano, through story, poetry, art and song.  We think of the work of Sr. Raphael Consedine from Australia, and also in a special way the sisters here in South Pres, the people in the Parish and in the city of Cork.  I was very touched to hear that the Parishioners here in this Parish bought a new carpet for the Church in preparation for this day and there’s also a lovely oratory at the side with Nano's icon which I hope you will take time to visit. 

I invite you to spend a few moments calling to mind the people who have shared Nano’s story with you, who have lived in fidelity to Nano’s spirit and charism, people who have inspired you, living or dead - call them to mind, thank God for them and maybe if you get the chance, express your gratitude to them. 

I’d like to also express thanks to the Bishops and Priests who are with us today.  We have also received warm good wishes from the Papal-Nuncio, Cardinal Brady and a number of the Bishops who were unable to join us today.

A special thanks to Bishop Buckley, the Bishop of Cork and Ross, a supporter of Nano and great friend of the Presentation Sisters.  I’d also like to thank the Parish Priest of St. Finbarrs, Fr. Richard Hurley, for your welcome and hospitality, and for the way together with the people here in the Parish you have treasured the memory of Nano, promoted her devotion and have already canonised her.  

Isn't the Church beautiful?  A special thank you to the altar society - for the beautiful floral arrangements that you see all around the Church and for all those who helped to prepare this sacred place for today. We also thank you for your hospitality in giving us the use of the South Parish Community Centre.  The list of thank you continues....

To the Venerable Nano Group coordinated by Aisling Harmey who have been responsible for the planning and have worked tirelessly in organising this event. 

We thank the Liturgy group and all who have taken part in the liturgy too many to name.  Special thanks to Sr. Cecilia Molloy for composing the Venerable Nano song, to the choir, dancers, musicians and the army band.        

To Sr. Una Burke for organising the liturgy at the graveside and to all the students who have participated, you've been great and your schools and families can be very proud of you. 

And to all of you who have travelled near and far to be here today, a big thank you for helping to make this such a wonderful and joy filled occasion. 

Finally a word of thanks to God for Nano. 

Maybe the most fitting tribute we can give Nano is to become like her, a bearer of light, and a person of faith, hope, courage, creativity and compassion.  A woman deeply rooted and grounded in God, she lived, she walked and worked here in these streets and yet her vision was for the whole world... "If I could be of any service in saving souls in any part of the globe I would willingly do all in my power...." she may not have lived to see this global enterprise that began very close to here but she believed in it. Despite uncertainty and disappointments she trusted in God and believed in its future promise that with God all things are possible. 

The flame was lit by Nano here in Cork over two hundred years ago and has since been carried all over the world.  One of the privileges of my role are the opportunities I have to visit our sisters and communities throughout the world, to see, and to experience the many ways that Nano’s commitment to education, to the care of the vulnerable and powerless and to the transformation of unjust systems are being lived out today in the various contexts and in a world very different to hers.  I have been deeply moved and challenged by the  ways in which Nano’s story is being shared and lived out today by countless women and men who have been captured by her vision, her passion and the witness of her life.  Today we are called as followers of Jesus inspired by the life, vision and mission of Nano to continue to fan the flame.  

We are delighted that so many Sisters, Associates, Friends of Nano and mission companions are here with us today, many more are united with us in spirit and prayer and we are also delighted that around the world people are also able to participate through the video link.  As we celebrate this momentous occasion, on this our special Feastday, we are invited like Mary to a joyful whole-hearted giving of ourselves to God.  On this day we are also reminded of and celebrate the mystery of our Oneness, of our being in communion with God, one another and with the whole of creation.  

In a few minutes people will be called forward to receive a light, they will be entrusted to carry this light to the places they come from or places they have been asked to represent not only here in Ireland but around the world where the Presentation Sisters minister.  As we continue our journey from here, all of us are called to be sparks that light other sparks so that the flame will be carried into the future in new and creative ways and into a world yearning for transformation. 

As the flame leaves here and is carried to the various places we will be inviting you to share about the journey, the sparks that are lit, how the flame has been fanned and what has happened that makes a difference in our world, as a result of what we celebrate here today.  Each of us is called to do something, it may be something very small but all of us are essential in carrying and fanning into flame the gift of God in our world.  A Gathering is planned in Portlaoise next May where we will be invited to come together to share our stories.  And since not everyone will be able to go to Portlaosise, we will also explore other creative ways of sharing our stories around the world and you will be hearing more about this in the coming months. 

So today we stand where Nano once stood

Listening...hearing in our own world, 

New born this day

Life’s insistent cry, 

The spirits voice.

We too are called to rise up and to follow for need calls loudly in the winding lanes, in the oppression and hopelessness of our world today, the suffering of those made poor and of the poor earth ... and  like Nano we must  seek Christ there. 

May our pilgrim heart urge us still one pace beyond and may love be our lantern flame. 

[Sr. Mary Deane]