Saturday, 21 November 2015


Today, 21st November, is Presentation Day.  It is a very meaningful day for all Presentation Sisters and for those who have been educated by them.  To mark this special day, I am posting some photographs taken during a most interesting visit to Presentation Archives, St John's.
In September, at the invitation of Assistant Archivist Wanita Bates, Betty Simms and I spent a most pleasant afternoon at the Archives.  We were warmly welcomed by Wanita and Archivist Sr Patricia Whittle PBVM.  To be quite honest, an afternoon was not nearly enough to peruse the wonderful material housed there.  (We are keeping our fingers crossed that another invitation will be forthcoming!)
Time and space does not permit an in depth account of our visit but suffice it to say that Sr Patricia and Wanita are worthy guardians of a long and impressive history.  A history that we, as Newfoundlanders and as beneficiaries of the Presentation ethos, should be extremely proud to own.
Our visit to Presentation Archives
The dolls in the display case are all in pre Vatican II attire.  From left to right they are Postulant, Novice and Professed Sister.  Some of us will remember the Sisters in just such Habits.  The cloak that the Professed Sister is wearing was not part of the everyday dress of the Sisters.  It was worn only on special occasions.
Captain William Staunton
(Photo Courtesy Presentation Archives, Newfoundland)
Captain William Staunton was  master of the brig Ariel. On 21st September 1833 the Ariel, under command of Captain Staunton, arrived in St John's Harbour.  With him were Bishop M A Fleming and four Presentations Sisters.  The four, Sisters Bernard Kirwan, Xaverius Lynch, Magdalen O'Shaughnessy and Xavier Molony founded the first Presentation Convent outside Ireland and therefore the first in North America.  Captain Staunton retired in St John's and died there in 1884, aged 84.
Three St Patrick's 'Girls'
Here we are with Presentation Archivist, Sr Patricia Whittle PBVM.  Sr Patricia, the pretty lady in the centre, is an alumna of St Patrick's Convent School.  In case you are too young to remember our Sisters in Habits, the mannequin behind us will give you a pretty good idea of how they looked.
Mother John's beautiful work
This beautiful piece of work was of special interest to us.  Mother John, as we knew her, was our Grade 4 teacher.  We have vivid memories of Mother John but Betty and I were not aware of the extent of her artistic talent.   
The description
This notice was attached to Mother John's work of art.  As well as a description of the work, it also gives a little information about the artist.
With Wanita, Lucky, and Sr Patricia
 Assistant Archivist, Wanita Bates, was kept busy taking our pictures but we were really delighted when she and Sr Patricia  agreed to another photo.  This time Betty was the photographer!  Sr Patricia is the Archivist, Wanita is the Assistant Archivist and I think Lucky must be the Assistant Assistant Archivist. 

The Presentation of Our Lady
This painting depicts the Presentation of Mary in the temple.  It was painted by a Sister at the Motherhouse.  It is not in the Archives but it is on display in one of the parlours for all to see and admire.
We are deeply grateful to Sr Patricia Whittle and Wanita Bates for an unforgettable experience. Our afternoon with you was informative, interesting and enjoyable and we thank you most sincerely.  We wish you both a very Happy Presentation Day.  We know you will keep the lamp burning brightly.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015


The two World Wars, and all the wars and conflicts that have followed, have claimed the lives of many parishioners of St Patrick’s Parish.  The deaths of these brave young people have shattered the lives of their loved ones at home.  Through all this misery and heartbreak, it was very often the job of the Pastor to try to comfort and bring what little solace he could to the bereaved families and friends.

In this post, we will take a brief look at some of those Pastors.

Msgr J J McDermott

When WWI broke out in 1914, the Parish Priest of St Patrick’s was an Irishman, Msgr J J McDermott.  Msgr McDermott was born in Roscommon in 1872 and was Pastor of St Patrick’s from 1909 – 1915.  He died in 1947.

Bishop Henry T Renouf

For the duration of the First World War, Father Henry T Renouf tended to the spiritual needs of the good people of St Patrick’s Parish.  Father Renouf, like Msgr McDermott, was born in 1872, but Fr Renouf was born in St John’s.  Fr Renouf was Pastor of St Patrick’s from 1915 – 1920.   In 1920, Fr Renouf was consecrated Bishop of St George’s.  Bishop Henry Renouf died in 1941.
Padre Thomas Nangle
The most well know of former priests of St Patrick’s Parish is probably Fr Thomas Nangle.  In 1914, Msgr McDermott was joined by the young Fr Nangle.  When WWI broke out, Fr Nangle was assistant priest to the Pastor, Fr Renouf.  It is commonly, but erroneously, believed that the massacre of the Newfoundlanders at Beaumont Hamel on 1st July 1916 inspired Fr Nangle to enlist as Chaplain to the Newfoundland Regiment.  There is documented proof that Fr Nangle long desired to join his fellow countrymen in the fray.  We know that Fr Nangle actually enlisted in October 1915 but much correspondence between London and St John’s and much red tape had to be gotten through before the priest was given the go-ahead.  It was in July 1916 that Archbishop Roche provided Fr Nangle with his celebret and a letter giving him permission to leave the diocese and serve as a Chaplain.  Fr Nangle proved to be an exemplary Chaplain, brave, compassionate and kind.  He was well loved and respected by all with whom he came in contact.
Archbishop Thomas J Flynn
For the years spanning WWII, Fr Thomas John Flynn was Pastor of St Patrick’s.  Fr Flynn was born in Placentia in 1892 and ordained in 1919.  He came to St Patrick’s in 1932 and served its people until 1945.  In 1945 Fr Flynn was created Coadjutor to Archbishop E P Roche of St John’s with the right of succession.  However, Archbishop Flynn predeceased Archbishop Roche.  He died on 1st September 1949.

Sad to say, the years since the ending of World War II have been anything but peaceful.  The world is still plagued with wars and conflicts and men and women are still dying in the service of their country.  The priests of St Patrick’s, like clergymen everywhere, are always available to offer what help and sympathy they can to the bereaved families of the fallen.
On this 11th November 2015, we remember in heart and prayer all who have made the supreme sacrifice. May they rest in the peace that the world cannot give, the peace of Christ.
Laurence Binyon
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”
(Robert Laurence Binyon)


Let us also remember the priests who have played their sad role in all wars and conflicts, those whose work is done and those who are still striving to bring comfort where often there is none.
Perhaps it is appropriate to end this post with the words of a valiant lady, Edith Stein.  Edith, or Sr Teresia Benedicta as she  became,  knew firsthand the horrors of war and died because she was Jewish.

Edith Stein (Sr Teresia Benedicta)

“The nation doesn’t simply need what we have.  It needs what we are.”
(St Teresia Benedicta)