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Sisters listening to 'Salute to Nano' at Nano Nagle Bridge, Cork City.

Walking the Walk

Throughout the almost three and a half weeks of the 2018 Presentation Sisters Congregational Gathering (CG2018) delegates were very much aware of the real reason they had all converged in Ireland, drawn from 16 countries around the world.  It was and is all because of one woman, Nano Nagle, and because in our world “people still suffer and cry out for justice.  Nano, woman of vision and faith in God who calls, gave us the programme for responding to this world, in a word: Love”.

Sr. Mary Deane, our out-going Congregational Leader, captured the wonder of the moment as we gathered to begin our Twilight Walk through the lane-ways of Cork City in the dusk of an April evening.

“[…] ‘.. who could not be drawn by the power of the love which can work the transformations our world needs? All are called to receive light, to share light, to be light, and to delight in the gift of God”.

“Three minutes to go” … Sr. Goretti O’Callaghan of North Presentation Convent called us to readiness.  At North Cathedral the sense of occasion was rising as we arrived to a maelstrom of welcome greetings, familiar and new faces, and final preparations for what was to be the highlight of this day of this week in the city and county of Cork – our ‘home place’ as Presentation people.

We delegates were then presented with our lighted lanterns and we were off.  Leaving North Cathedral we walked the route taken by Nano on her daily homeward (downhill!) journey. We were deeply attentive at the locations of Nano’s three schools and first convent on the north side of the city, the school at ‘Cross Street’ in the middle parish, the sites of prisons befriended by Nano at both North and South Gates, and the signposts to narrow lanes, none unknown to our ‘Lady of the Lantern’.

At Nano Nagle Bridge across the south channel of the Lee (the only bridge in Cork to be named after a woman), to the beat of the Barrack Street Band, Sr. Mary O’Brien offered her own composition, “Salute to Nano!” (see below).

The entire event depicted life’s pathos and potential, and one woman’s brave and fruitful response.

Míle, mile buíochas! A thousand thousand thanks.

Salute to Venerable Nano Nagle

From this bridge
Which bears your name
Spanning South channel of the River Lee
Where spires and housetops shine
Against Cork’s evening sky
We salute you!
Venerable Nano!
We salute you!

From distance of
Three hundred years
Across the miles
And times and seasons
From Earth’s Corners
Where your name
Finds echoes still
We salute you Nano!
We salute you!

For hours you spent
In prayer and search
In garrets dark
In Finbarr’s church
We salute you, Nano!
We salute you!

For every time
Your weary feet
Made crossings of these cobbled streets
In cold and rain
In danger’s teeth
From South to North
From North to South
By day, by night,
By faint and waning lantern light
We salute you Nano!
We salute you!

Woman of faith, of courage
And of love
God’s Great News from heav’n above
Streamed on our world
And beyond!
We salute you!
Venerable Nano Nagle
We salute you!

Note:  On Day 7, Wednesday 26th April the delegates of the North East Province, Ireland shared this reflective piece on the previous evening’s Twilight Walk in Nano’s Footsteps.  Some wonderful video footage of this event  is available under the ‘Footsteps of Nano’ Tab at the top of the CG2018 website, visible when you open this link.  The full text of the reflection is available HERE 

(Image used is courtesy of CG2018 website).


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