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|Sr. Agnes Walsh
My Vocation Story
Writing a composition was never one of my favorite tasks at school. In Primary School I remember once getting “go maith” and what a joy. I still can see those two words written in red in my mind’s eye. So to get cracking I’ll try to share the story of my vocation.
It starts with the first quiet voice “I’m calling you.” I heard it during a homily given by a Jesuit at our Sunday Mass. I was in Secondary School then. After that I remember sharing my happiness with my companions.
In response to this invitation I had a decision to make: Where was I going to enter? Foreign Missions? Contemplatives? Teaching Community? etc. I continued to chat with the Lord and I heard the voice:”Go to the first place you are told.” During our school retreat that October I shared my story with the priest and he knew a Presentation Community in Wexford, Ireland that would be delighted to have me as a member.
The following August my mother accompanied me as I went for an interview to Wexford Convent. The night after the interview at the Convent I could not sleep. I tossed and turned all night thinking, “I do not wish to enter there.” Then I remembered the voice I had heard: “go to the first place you are told.” This continued to haunt me! My parents questioned: “Why don’t you go someplace near home like Mallow, Kenturk or Doneraille?” Eventually on October 17th, 1942, I entered in the first place I was told, Presentation Convent, Wexford, Ireland!
On saying “Goodbye” my dad said: “If you are not happy after one month, write and tell us and we will come and get you.” So my life as a Sister began on October 17, 1942. My mother picked this date because it was my Feast Day, Margaret Mary. She asked that I would be called Sr. Margaret Mary. Alas, a Sister with that name was in the Convent already so on April 26, 1943, I was received as a Presentation Sister with the name Sr. Agnes. It was Easter Monday! It was also the anniversary of Nano Nagle’s death.
During my years in Wexford Presentation Convent and School I enjoyed my teaching in Junior School. In August 1951, I made my first move to Presentation Convent, Enniscorthy. On arrival there I was filled with awe and fear of the unknown. There I taught in the Primary School and I had the privilege of preparing children for their First Holy Communion. I treasured that experience.
While Wexford Convent was located in the city and very confined, I loved Enniscorthy for the open countryside, the convent overlooking the Slaney Valley and Vinger Hill. I remained there until I received the invitation from our Congregational Leader to go to Alabama in 1988.
On arrival in Monroeville, AL on August 15th I lived in a trailer with Sr. Anthony. This was a completely new life experience for me and one I cherished. For the next ten years we served the people of Vredengurg. The local people were neglected when the local paper mills closed. Their source of income and sustenance ended with the closure of the Paper Mill after it was burned for the second time. The German Owners could not rebuild again. After serving the people in Monroeville and Vredenburg, AL.I moved to Globe, AZ.
My years in Globe, AZ were very fulfilling and varied. I taught CCD, was involved in Holy Angel’s School, visited the homebound and did Prison Ministry. When it was decided to leave Globe, I moved to Cypress, CA where I’m enjoying my retirement.
Looking back on my life as a Sister I see that it was a series of responding to different calls all within the primary call of being a Sister. I’m reminded of St. Paul’s words: “I live now, yet not I but Christ lives within me.” With Christ I have been a Presence for others.
I now see where my Original Call is leading and I hope to stay following that call all the days of my life.
|Sr. Wiona Engel
Vocation Story of Sister Wiona Engel
I was born in Luckenbach, Texas, the youngest of six children born to Armin and Franciska Engel. I grew up on a farm where we raised mainly tomatoes and squash for a living. I attended a two room public elementary school my first seven years and 8th grade through 12th grade in St. Mary’s Catholic School, Fredericksburg, Texas from where I graduated as Valedictorian of my class in 1962.
Entering Religious Life never entered my mind until a German priest, Fr. W.W. Schneider, often mentioned it to me. Over and over he would say to me, “Wiona, you would make a good nun.”
My answer always was, “No, never Father, I’m not good enough.” “Yes, you are”, was his response. His constant remarks kept bothering me so during my senior year in high school I visited 5 different Congregations. In Sept. 1962 I decided to try the Presentation Sisters in San Antonio because they all seemed so happy, they were a small Congregation and I thought I would always be near home. I really entered with the hope that I wouldn’t like it and therefore be able to go back home with a clear conscience and be able to follow my dream. I loved dancing and always wanted to become a professional dancer. However, God is a God of surprises. I entered, I liked it and I stayed.
I have had a wonderful and blessed life with the Presentation Sisters. I was very happy teaching 3rd grade, 8th grade and Jr. High Science in St. Gregory’s Catholic School from 1966 -1978; being principal of St. Thomas More Catholic School from 1978-1986; and caring for my sick and ageing parents from 1985-1989. After their death in 1989 I began a Development Program for our U.S. Province. In 1991 I was transferred to Ireland where I served as Assistant Congregational Leader for 5 years and as Congregational Leader for ten years from 1996- 2006. Though leaving home, my family and friends and moving to Ireland was one of the most difficult times of my life, it was also the most blessed. Leadership was a ministry which I would never have chosen to be involved in. However, my experience of working with 3 different teams was a great learning experience plus I made many friends
Serving my Sisters and traveling to the various countries where our Sisters are in mission was very life-giving. Experiencing the culture of our Sisters in India, Pakistan, Philippines, New Zealand, Slovakia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ireland, England and ,of course, the U.S. was difficult but yet it was also awesome and a great learning experience. The welcome, hospitality, and care of me, not only by our Sisters, but by the people of these various cultures are experiences I will never forget. I experienced God’s presence in so many various ways and it was just wonderful to see how our Sisters carry out the mission and charism of our Congregation.
When I finished my 15 years in Congregational Leadership, I had a good rest and then did a month’s program in Ecology in Chicago, Illinois and a 4 month Sabbatical Program in “Berakah” located in Pittsfield, New Hampshire. Both helped me to concentrate on my own spiritual life and to reorient myself for a ministry in the U.S. Province.
After finishing my Sabbatical and returning to the U.S. Province, I was part of a Discernment Group of Sisters interested in working with those in need. The Provincial Team asked me to investigate areas of need in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Through that investigation I was lead to the Delta of Mississippi where I worked for one year with the Mercy Sisters in St. Gabriel Mercy Center in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Our Discernment Group chose to begin a new mission in the Delta and I was one of the three chosen to start this mission with two other Sisters, Sister Maura and Sister Una. In September 2009 we began our search in the Delta and after much research, discernment and prayer we chose Shaw, Mississippi to begin the new mission for the U. S. Province. We have opened Presentation Sisters Center in downtown Shaw and presently we have a tutoring program for children Kinder through 3rd grade after school. We have 19 students whom we tutor and are beginning adult literacy classes for high school and adults. We remain open to learning about the needs from the people and are willing to respond to those needs in whatever way we can.
My life thus far has been a very fulfilling and blessed journey. I trust that God who began this work in me will continue to guide and direct me for the rest of my years. May God be praised for God’s goodness and love for me.
|Sr. Dina Potter
All is Gift!
How do I ever begin to express my gratitude? All is gift and God is the giver. On August 21, 2010 I was graced with a day I’ll never forget, my final public YES to God and to God’s people as a Presentation Sister. I was blessed with the presence of family members, Presentation Sisters, local religious, Presentation Ministry Center participants and co-ministers, St. Agnes parishioners and friends from my former parish, St. Joseph in Greenville, MS.
The liturgy was so alive with beautiful music in both English and Spanish. Fr. Richard Somers of Greenville, MS and four local concelebrants kept the flow moving in a very prayerful manner. The word was proclaimed and a very inspiring homily was given by Sr. Jane Bonar, PBVM. Nano Nagle, foundress of the Presentation Sisters, was a Lantern of Light for the people of Ireland in the 1770s. Sr. Jane Bonar said in her most inspiring reflection at the Mass, “Nano didn’t just carry a lantern, she WAS a lantern.”
In The Rite of Profession I share with you part of my professed vows, “God, I ask for your continued graces to love as you love, to know you as my best friend, to hear you more clearly and be faithful to the end.” The Vows were signed and I was presented the Presentation ring that is an ancient symbol of eternity of my commitment to God and the Presentation Sisters.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist began with the Presentation of the Gifts. This included the bread and wine along with the four elements of nature. All are great symbols of our Congregational Spirituality of Being in Communion. They were presented as a visual reminder of the importance of cherishing and tending these gifts. All were invited to receive the Eucharist or a blessing as prayerful music was played. Words of thanks were expressed and we concluded with a final blessing and song, “Santa Maria del Camino” This day and all the people present as well as those who could not be present will forever hold a special place in my heart.