Presentation Sisters first arrived at St John’s in Newfoundland from Galway, Ireland in 1833 to set up a school there. Another journey led the Congregation of Presentation Sisters in Newfoundland and Labrador to come together with the Union of Presentation Sisters. The Decree of Fusion of the Congregations was granted by the Vatican in November 2014 and celebrated officially in 2015.
Together with lay colleagues and Partners in Mission, the Sisters continue to share their gifts and resources in responding to the needs of the world today.
The island of Newfoundland is part of the landmass of Labrador. In fact geographically they said, ‘we are closer to Ireland than we are to any other part of our huge country’.
The sea that pulses through the veins of its people is a powerful reality and a powerful symbol providing life and sustenance, as well as hardship and suffering.
Sharing their Symbol at CG2018
The women of the island of Newfoundland have a long history of connecting to the sea – they have known its beauty and its giftedness, and they have known its dangers. They have watched the raging storms upon the sea that have caused their husbands and sons to be lost, to drift afar, never to return. In the midst of such grief and loss they have stood upon their ‘holding ground’ and they have been anchored with courage and strength to hold their pain and remain connected to Spirit energy. An energy that has called them and carried them to produce new life.
In sharing their wonderful symbol of ‘Launch into the deep’ the Presentation Sisters from Canada: Newfoundland and Labrador shared a piece of writing (read by Sr. Helen) from ‘The Holdin’ Ground’ – a Radio Play by Ted Russell* which illustrated very movingly how the Altantic Ocean has formed the identity and shaped the character of the people of this place. (The ‘Holdin’ Ground’ is a phrase referring to that place at the bottom of the ocean where the anchor takes hold, securing a boat once it is moored off shore).
Like the schooner described in the piece, that to the onlooker seems to always and forever be on the move – ‘ ..a stranger not knowing the difference, would think she was adrift that is, if he didn’t know about her chain, her anchor and her holdin’ ground’.
‘And the thought struck me, how much that schooner is like us people living in this part of the Newfoundland Coast … And most likely, like the people everywhere! We have our little battles of wind and tide, and differences of opinions in a good many things, and our doubts and questions that swing us in different ways’.
Listening to its people ‘[…] a stranger might think that we were gone adrift until he knew about our moorings and our holdin’ ground’.
The Sisters then shared out some beautifully reflective questions:
When have you felt that you were adrift?
What is tossing us about as we seek guidance and wisdom (during this time together at this Congregational Gathering)?
What angers us?
Where is our ‘holdin’ ground’ these days?
Where is our source?
Pray for the blessing to know where your ‘holdin’ ground’ is, and to ask yourself, what anchors you in these days, as you toss and turn to seek to find your way?
See Video Section of this link to watch in full the presentation of their Symbol Reflection: Nano Aflame! CG2018 Reflections
*(Ted Russell was born in Coley’s Point, Newfoundland in 1904 and died in 1977).