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UNION OF SISTERS OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

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Words of Gratitude to Sr Breda Ryan, pbvm

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14/08/2019

On 27 April 2019 a special Mass was held in Paraparaumu to bless Sr Breda Ryan for her return journey to Ireland after fifty-three years in New Zealand. Sr Mary Jackson Kay, rc gave the following beautiful tribute to Breda. 

Sr Mary Jackson Kay, rc

The Presentation Sisters have served in ministry and lived community in Aotearoa, New Zealand for sixty-five years. Many of the Pioneer Sisters are buried in the cemetery further down Kapiti Road. They will continue to intercede for Our Lady of Kapiti Parish especially our School and our upcoming Parish Church. 

Our main purpose in this celebration tonight is to bid farewell to Sister Breda Ryan and mission her back to Ireland. 

With us are some of the Presentation Sisters still living in New Zealand – Sisters Regina, Frances, Ruth and Veronica and some of the Friends of Nano and Associates. Also present by desire are Sisters Mary Tait, Pauline and Noreen. 

Now Sr Breda, the last one of the Sisters living in Our Lady of Kapiti Parish is answering the call of God and Breda’s own desire to return to Ireland...another call from God to mission. 

As I pondered and prayed about what to say about Breda’s fifty-three years in New Zealand I realised I had first met the Presentation Sisters when I was eighteen years old. I sensed God was calling me to Religious life. The Presentation Community here were having a holiday at the Convent in Gisborne. I had to sneak out of the house telling my Dad I was going to a friend’s house because he was against my going to the Convent! I talked with Mother Vianney whom many of you will remember as well as other Sisters. I felt at home with the Sisters yet felt I was being called elsewhere. Later I met with the Cenacle Sisters and knew this was where I was being called. 

As I thought about Breda I realised we were both responding to the call of God at the same time. The mystery of God’s call at opposite ends of the world! 

Breda came to Kapiti Coast, New Zealand as a young twenty-one year old woman. She did her formation as a Novice at Takapau; trained as a nurse at Lower Hutt Hospital. 

When I said yes to the call to follow Jesus I did ask God two things, “Please God I don’t want to be a martyr or a missionary!” Fortunately thus far neither Breda nor I have been called to be a martyr!

Breda however, has been an amazing missionary. She not only answered the call to New Zealand, she also answered the call to nurse in Papua New Guinea for a total of eight challenging years. And now she is answering the call to be a missionary to Ireland! 

Breda you have gifted us with so much: 

  • Nano Nagle, Lady of the Lantern...Breda your willingness to go out into the night of people’s lives and struggles
  • As Nano said, you responded: “If I could be of any service in saving souls in any part of the globe I would willingly do all in my power”
  • Your gentleness, compassion, real interest and care and generosity are well known by many here
  • Your hospitality: “Mary do you want a cup of tea and a freshly baked scone, a meal of a Sunday roast?”
  • Your down to earth wisdom, practical help e.g Mission Gala thirty-five years for both Chile and Papua New Guinea.

I had written much more and Father Michael has said some of it but I sense you know Breda how we feel about you.

It is time to move on to the gifts we want to give you tonight in gratitude. Breda we know that you don’t like to be singled out and you are such a woman of community I am going to invite you up with the members of your community. So Regina, Ruth, Fran and Veronica please come up with Breda. 

I also want to invite the other Religious of the Parish to join us – Joan and Diane SMSM (Margaret would have liked to be here aswell), Barbara a Mission Sister and my Cenacle community, Anne and Clare (Kathleen would have liked to be here as well but is at a family memorial). One of the great things about living in this Parish is that with Breda we have been like one community supporting one another and in ministry together. Take a look we might be aging but we are a beautiful and passionate looking group! We are still focused on mission! 

Breda Turangawaewae is a beautiful Maori concept. Literally turanga (standing place), waewae (feet), it is often translated as ‘a place to stand’. Turangawaewae are places where we feel especially empowered and connected. They are our foundation, our place in the world, our home. Breda your home was Ireland and fifty-three years ago you were welcomed to Aotearoa and this became your home. Now in your heart you will be at home in both Ireland and Aotearoa. We are linked forever...geography does not limit love!

We have some gifts for you tonight. To present the gifts on our behalf I invite Tony and Margaret Bevin, Pauline McGlinchey and Mary Anne Kindell.

Breda, they are small gifts as you don’t want more luggage yet they are precious and will remind you of us and all you mean to us. 

The Paua Cross

There is a beautiful Maori legend about Paua. I won’t tell the whole story except to say the last part of the story is that Tangaroa made Paua colour on the inside rather than a spectacular outer cloak. You Breda are so beautiful inside and out. 

The Manaia Pounamu

Traditionally it is depicted with the head of a bird, the body of a human and the tail of a fish – representing sky, earth and sea and the balance between. It is likened to a bird sitting on your shoulder Breda, looking after you and guiding you. 

Pauline has created a beautiful book of your life among us. 

Mary Anne, on behalf of the Friends of Nano, has a gift for you.

I know everyone wants to gift you with something for your journey. 

A couple of years ago I was working with Sister Julie Watson, pbvm, who is now the Congregational Leader of the Presentation Sisters (Union). She told me a story about her time on mission in Pakistan. She was the principal of a school there for some five thousand students, who were both Christian and Muslim. Julie had broken her leg yet still continued to work. One day wheeling herself in a wheelchair across the playground, a young Muslim student spoke to her and said “Sister you have broken your leg. I will blow the spirit to heal you.” She cupped her hands and blew gently. I asked Julie if she was healed. She said she actually stopped using her wheelchair a couple of days later. 

So I invite all of you to cup your hands and to think of the gift you would like to give to Breda as she is missioned again to Ireland. So now together let us blow her our gift for her journey.

So Breda you can go confidently now as you once again say yes to God’s call deep in your heart. Know that we support you as life unfolds for you. 

I’d like to finish with Anne’s poem as a prayer for you:

May the drift of river carry you and the sandbank not block your journey.

May the ripening flax flower strengthen you and the breeze in the grass gentle you.

May the quiet river sing you peace. 

- Anne Powell

Let us sing the Irish blessing together:

May the road rise up to meet you

May the wind be always at your back

May the sun shine warm upon your face

And may the rain fall softly on your field

Until we meet again

May God hold you in the palm of his hand. 

Submitted by: Sr Mary Jackson Kay, rc

 

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