The Presentation Sisters.
In 1775, Nano Nagle entered with some companions on a novitiate for the religious life. With them, she received the habit on 29 June 1776, taking the name of Mother Mary of St. John of God. They made their first annual vows 24 June 1777. The foundress had begun the erection of a convent close to that which she had built for the Ursulines, and it was opened on Christmas Day, 1777. They adopted as their title "Sisters of the Sacred Heart", which was changed in 1791 to that of "Presentation Sisters". Their habit was similar to that of the Ursulines.
As the schools of the Presentation Sisters developed, Nano Nagle is quoted as having said of them:
“ I can assure you my schools are beginning to be of service to a great many parts of the world... I often think they will not bring me to heaven as I only take delight and pleasure in them. ”
The second superioress was Mother Mary Angela Collins. Soon after her succession a set of rules, adapted from that of St. Augustine, was drawn up by Bishop Moylan, and approved by Pope Pius VI in September, 1791. This congregation of teaching sisters itself was given formal approval by Pope Pius VII in 1800.
Communities from Cork were founded at Killarney in 1793; Dublin in 1794; and at Waterford in 1798. A second convent at Cork was established in 1799, by Sister M. Patrick Fitzgerald; and a convent at Kilkenny in 1800, by Sister M. Joseph McLoughlan.
The schools, regulated at the time by a United Kingdom Government board, had for their first object the Catholic and moral training of the young, which was not interfered with by the government. The secular system followed was the "National", superseded, in many cases, by the "Intermediate", both of which ensured a sound education in English; to these were added domestic economy, Latin, Irish, French, and German. The average attendance of children in each of the city convents of Dublin, Cork, and Limerick was over 1200; that in the country convents between 300 and 400, making a total of 22,200 who received an excellent education without charge. For girls who needed to support themselves by earning a living, work-rooms were established at Cork, Youghal, and other places, where Limerick lace, Irish points and crochet are taught and about twenty in the United States, where the first was founded at San Francisco by Mother Xavier Cronin from Kilkenny in 1854.
In 1833 a house was founded by Mother Josephine Sargeant from Clonmel at Manchester, England, from which sprang two more, one at Buxton and one at Glossop. The schools were well attended; the number of children, including those of an orphanage, being about 1400. India received its first foundation in 1841, when Mother Xavier Kearney and some sisters from Rahan and Mullingar established themselves at Madras. Soon four more convents in the Madras presidency were founded from this, and in 1891 one at Rawal Pindi. These schools comprised orphanages, and day and boarding-schools, both for Europeans and local children. In 1866 Mother Xavier Murphy and some sisters left Fermoy for a first foundation at Hobart Town, Tasmania, under the auspices of its first archbishop, Dr. Daniel Murphy. From there a further foundation was made at Launceston. St. Kilda, Melbourne, received sisters from Kildare in 1873, and Wagga Wagga a year later, with Mother M. John Byrne at their head. From these two houses numerous others branched forth to various parts of Australia; there were over twenty convents by 1910, about 500 sisters, and thousands of children attending their schools.
At the present day, there are 62 convents, and about 1500 sisters. Each community is independent of the mother-house, and subject only to its own superioress and the bishop of its respective diocese.