January 10, 1856
“On the 10th of January, 1856 , Sister Mary Clare Waldron, Sister Mary Ignatius Quinlan, Sister Mary Rose Mullally, and Sister Mary Regis Haplin (novice) religious of the Presentation Order, came from the Mother house to establish another house of the Order at Riverhead in this town (St. John’s) under the authority of Most Reverend Dr. Mullock, Bishop of St. John’s .”
The first nuns to serve in Newfoundland reached St John’s harbour on 21 September 1833.
The four Galway women came to Newfoundland at the invitation of the Catholic Bishop, Michael Fleming to establish a school that would offer improved educational opportunity for girls and young women in St. John’s.
Upon arrival in St. John’s the nuns were agreeably surprised by the appearance of Newfoundland.
“This country,” Sister Mary Bernard Kirwin wrote in her first letter home, “is by no means as dreary as we heard. The bay is beautiful and so is the country as far as we can see.”
Within a few weeks of their arrival in St. John’s the sisters had gathered approximately 450 students that they divided into classes. They began teaching in a room at the rear of an old tavern, the “Rising Sun” that also served as their home. The curriculum included grammar, literature, arithmetic, French, music, needle work, and Christian doctrine.
The Presentation Sisters remain active in Newfoundland and Labrador. Some places where you will meet Presentation women are: The Gathering Place; Nano Nagle Spirituality Centre; Presentation Sisters’ Retreat House ; St. Catherine’s Renewal Centre; The Lantern and Xavier House.
Recommended Archival Collection: Presentation Congregation Archives, Cathedral Square, St. John’s. The collection, which includes manuscripts, artifacts, record books, photographs and personal papers, documents the history of the Presentation Congregation in Newfoundland from the arrival of the first four volunteers to the present day. The Archives also holds materials related to education and to other apostolates in which the Presentation Order is involved. An interesting part of the Archives is the photographic collection that presents a visual history of the Presentation Congregation in Newfoundland.
Recommended Reading: http://www.presentationsisters.ca/
Did you know? One of the ventures of the Presentation Congregation with others is the Gathering Place, Military Road, St. John’s (see the advertisement above) The Gathering Place offers a noon meal program each weekday. Since its opening in 1994, the program has served numbers ranging from 40 to 170 guests per day.