My first thoughts on the passing of Sr. Eileen was the Scripture passage: “Well done, good and faithful servant…. come and share your master’s joy,” Matt 25:23, the parable about the talents showing us that we are to use our talents for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. I, then went to look at an essay on Venerable Nano Nagle the foundress of the Presentation Sisters, to which Sister belonged, because Sister Eileen frequently mentioned her and was rightly devoted to the vision of Nano Nagle that she devoted her life to. Here are some highlights of that vision:
At age 32, Nano Nagle left the convent in France, where she had been sent by her family, and returned to Ireland, where she secretly gathered the children of the poor and taught them catechism, reading, writing and mathematics. As Nano spent her days with the children, they would tell her of their sick friends or family members. Nano began to visit the sick and the elderly after school, bringing them food, medicine and comfort. She often made visits late into the night, carrying her lamp among the alleyways. Before long, Nano became known as the Lady of the Lantern.
Nagle's first school opened with about 30 students, and this is now the site of South Presentation convent. At first alone, and later with the support of her family, particularly her uncle Joseph Nagle who had used Protestantism to preserve the family's wealth, she established a network of Catholic schools in Cork. Not everyone in Cork welcomed the initiative: "She was insulted in the street on occasion, and her pupils were dismissed as 'beggars' brats'." Within nine months, she was educating 200 girls. Within a few years, she had opened seven schools, five for girls and two for boys. These provided pupils with a basic education and religious instruction. The French Petites Écoles provided the model on which to base her schools, but she was to develop her own system of education. She described in a letter her ideas for education, and how she wanted the spiritual and temporal welfare of her pupils to be interwoven and to flow naturally together. Sister taught and labored teaching myriads of students throughout her life and remembering them! She engaged in evangelization, with love and care of neighbor in her various outreach to the poor, needy, and sick.
Nano was drawn into the divine dynamic of the Sacred Heart devotion to such an extent that the original title of the Presentation Sisters in 1775 was Sisters of the Charitable Instruction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the spirit of Nano, Presentation Sisters throughout the world continue this devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the ministry begun by Nano. Sister Eileen loved and promoted the devotion to the Sacred Heart and this love of the Lord was an integral part of her dedication and life.
Devotion to our Lady especially in her consecration to God as a child in her Presentation in the Temple signifies the devotion to our Lady of the Presentation Sisters that Nano founded and their own consecration to the Lord through the hands of the Virgin Mary. Sister was born on the October 13, 1929. October is the last manifestation of Our Lady of Fatima and the date of the miracle of the sun to give support to the testimony of the Servant of God, Lucia dos Santos, St.Francisco and St.Jacinta Marto about their vision of our Lady at Fatima. Sister was tireless in promoting devotion to our Lady, organizing processions honoring her, and providing the living Rosary with the children. She loved the shrine to our Lady of Fatima and the three children of Fatima in the front of the parish rectory.
Well done good and faithful servant. A passage from St. Paul the Apostle also comes to mind in thinking about Sister’s life: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the Faith 2 Tim 4:7-8. A grateful parish thanks you for your dedicated service which approached half a century. We remain united with you in the Lord’s Church, the Communion of the Saints. May Sister rest in peace.
Fr. Villa, PastorBACK TO LIST