Presentation Spirituality


“Nano” by Kath Kavanagh Ballina, New South Wales, Australia



Presentation spirituality is shaped and formed by Nano Nagle’s spirituality.

Spirituality is about life.
Spirituality is about being attentive.
Spirituality is about being intentional.
Christian spirituality is a spirituality of transformation.

What was Nano attentive to? Nano was attuned to the edges of things. She was in touch with the experiences of people who were poor and pushed to the margins. She was in touch with their experiences of hopelessness and despair. She was attentive to their needs – for education, for faith development, for a soothing word or a soothing hand. She was attentive to the political and social realities that created extreme poverty and dispossession. She was attuned to where political power was exercised. She was attuned to the Church and its evolving role in Irish society near the end of the Penal Laws. She was attentive to the practical everyday necessities of keeping her schools functioning and establishing two religious congregations in Cork to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of these schools. She was attentive to the call of God’s spirit in the ordinary everyday realities of her life. She did not look for extraordinary signs and wonders to make her way to God. She was attentive to God in the daily relationships, commitments and activities of daily life and discerned God’s presence there. Her letters are a testament to this.

How did Nano cultivate this attentiveness? We know from the few books of Nano that have survived that she read the Bible and spiritual reading books such as Lettres Spirituelles by Nicolas Barre and Instructions by Father John Gother. We know that Nano spent long hours each day in prayer and practices of penance. Like Jesus, the icon of God’s compassionate love, she came to embody God’s compassionate presence for those pushed to the edges of Cork’s society. Nano’s zeal and sheer hard work over so many years in such difficult circumstances arose from her closeness to the Heart of Jesus and her fidelity to the Gospel message to spread the Good News of God’s Love to those who are poor.

Nano’s spirituality was transformative. There is no doubt that Nano’s spirituality transformed her own heart and life. Her life was turned upside down. The woman enjoying the frivolous entertainments in France is very different from the woman scandalized because of her throng of beggar’s brats. There is no doubt that she transformed the lives of her early companions. Their fidelity and courage in the founding period of the Congregation is a testament to the spiritual heritage Nano left them and the lessons they learned from watching her spirituality in action.

lanternAs Presentation Congregations spread around the world, the Spirit of Nano has continued to be transformational in the lives of sisters, students, parishioners and many others over the past 225 years. The work of Presentation people in a variety of contexts has challenged unjust structures, welcomed each person and respected their dignity, and inspired people to work for an alternative society where all are welcome.

The lantern has become the symbol of the transformative nature of the Spirit at work in the life of Nano Nagle and her followers. It symbolizes light in the darkness of fear, ignorance and despair; hope in the face of overpowering injustice and oppression; and the power of even small acts of human kindness against the tide of poverty and neglect.

This is Presentation spirituality.


Catholic Theology

Presentation Spirituality is based on sound Catholic theology. Sound Catholic theology in our ministerial and spiritual life is like the backbone in a healthy body. The backbones in our bodies, like the foundations and electrical and plumbing systems in our homes, are usually taken for granted, until something goes wrong. Like a healthy backbone in a healthy human body, sound theology can provide support, shape and stability to the Body of Christ as we embrace our ministries. The following videos offer such teaching.


Additional Resources

Lent and the SDGs

I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me

Laudato Si Advent Reflection Guide 2015

Theological Reflections of God's Earth