Dear Editor, As the nephew of two, sadly deceased, Sisters of the Presentation Order I read with interest the news that the founder of the Presentation Order, Nano Nagle, has been declared Venerable. I hope that this will provide an opportunity not merely to review her life but also to end the current obsession in Irish media and public life of sneering at the Catholic religious orders and their contribution to Ireland and the world.
Presentation nuns, along with other religious orders including the much maligned Christian Brothers were the first to provide Irish people with the opportunity for an education when no government or other public body was able or willing to do so. Thousands dedicated their life to this vocation and provided a first rate education to generations of pupils who were thereby given the opportunity to better themselves and their countries. Today Catholic religious orders, including Presentation Sisters, continue to provide what is often the only education available in some of the poorest and most unstable parts of the world, a fact that is all too often overlooked or ignored even by Catholics.
One year on from the shooting of Malala Yousafzai it also worth noting that 250 years ago Nano Nagle and her fellow nuns were educating girls. I wish that those who so often rush to criticise the Church as misogynistic should perhaps look at the history of women such as Nano Nagle and recognise their contribution and the contribution of the Catholic Church to the education and therefore the empowerment of women.