Presentation of Mary in Portugal
The Portuguese Province was founded in 1925, by Mother Maria da Santíssima Trindade (Leontina de Ornelas e Vasconcelos), who was born in 1893, on the island of Madeira – Portugal.
Providential events led Leontina, with her mother and sister, to Lausanne, Switzerland. There she met the Presentation of Mary and was immediately struck by the figure and personality of Marie Rivier, her charism and her mission, which were a light for her. She understood that it was in this religious family that the Lord wanted her. More than that, she had the intimate revelation that God would use her to extend the apostolic action of the Daughters of the Apostle Woman to Portugal.
After the death of her mother, Leontina entered the novitiate of the Presentation of Mary in Bourg-St.-Andeol, France, where she made her profession in 1921.
Still a novice, moved by God, she proposed to the Superior General, Mother Saint Honorine, a foundation in Portugal. Mother General listened kindly to the project and promised that the foundation would be made in Portugal when there were 20 Portuguese vocations.
The matter was therefore uncertain and could be delayed, because Mother Trindade was the first and only Portuguese to enter the Congregation, and the Congregation was then totally unknown in Portugal. The Lord would take care of this condition, nothing is impossible for him. After Leontina went to Madeira and made the Congregation known, successive groups of Portuguese women came to the novitiate in France, so that in 1925 there were already 33 Portuguese women at the Presentation of Mary, exceeding the number requested.
Leontina, who in religion had received the name of Sister of the Holy Trinity, along with three Portuguese nuns, was sent on February 3, 1925 to take charge of the work that she herself had presented to the Superior General, the “Protection of Weak Children”, at the service of the poorest of the city of Funchal, Madeira.
Thus the foundations of the Portuguese Province of the Presentation of Mary were laid.
During the arduous journey to Portugal, Mother Trindade’s illness, a serious tuberculosis, manifested itself. Was this project doomed to failure? God wants to lay the foundation on her annihilation and under the sign of the cross.
The Congregation raised a prayerful cry to heaven and miraculously Mother Trindade recovered her health and was able to continue her mission, founding several communities in Madeira.
In 1938, Mother Trindade extended the foundation to mainland Portugal. Her journey of faith continued, overcoming obstacles and undergoing trials, with the tenacity of the meek and humble of heart, she built works with the prudent foresight of those whom the Holy Spirit assists: colleges, schools, house of prayer (Setubal, Lisbon, Fatima).
The year 1941 was marked by the erection of the Portuguese novitiate, where Mother Trindade was mistress of novices, and by the sending of the first missionaries to Mozambique.
In 1947, the Portuguese Province of the Presentation of Mary was canonically erected. Mother Trindade was named its first provincial superior.
After a long life of selfless service, and stricken by illness, which she endured with the greatest patience, the Lord came to take her away on July 16, 1974.
Her life is well summed up: God’s will in all things!
Today, the Portuguese Province, formed by the communities of the island of Madeira, continental Portugal and the Mission of Brazil, in the footsteps of Maria Rivier, makes Jesus Christ and his Mother known and loved with boldness and confidence.
School, education, solidarity and evangelization are specific features of the charism of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. These are the main lines that also shape the different apostolates entrusted to the apostolic zeal of the sisters of the Portuguese Province.
Our action of evangelization takes on a face and a body in each of our communities.
Together with the sisters, the Marie Rivier Association, the young people linked to our youth and vocation ministry, the lay missionary volunteers and all those who, in one way or another, drink from our spirituality and collaborate in our apostolic works, enrich our Province of life and make real the words of Marie Rivier: “I would like to have a thousand lives, to go everywhere to make Jesus Christ known and loved”.
The greatest challenges for our Province, which are always aimed at keeping alive and dynamic our mission of making Jesus Christ known and loved throughout our lives, are above all
Conversion to love.
We need a serious and authentic witness of life. Pope Francis tells us: “Be women and men of communion, live the mysticism of the encounter: the ability to listen attentively to others; “the ability to seek together the way, the method”, allowing yourselves to be enlightened by the relationship of love that exists between the three divine Persons and taking it as a model for all interpersonal relationships.
A lucid and courageous look.
The world is moving at a dizzying pace. Nothing will ever be the same again. We must be attentive to the signs of the times. Where should we channel our strengths? Where does the Lord want to lead us?
To go beyond
To present Jesus above all, with exigency, creativity and audacity. This is something that cannot be improvised and that requires time and inner availability. To continue to invest in youth and vocation ministry. “The Kingdom of God grows (and so does a vocation) – as Pope Benedict XVI said – by attraction, not by proselytizing, not by indoctrination, not by …. but by attraction. We all have this mission to be witnesses of the love of Jesus.
The sisters are well aware of the challenges and difficulties of the present moment, but with a deep faith and a boundless generosity, they launch themselves with audacity and with the strength of God, in the desire to announce the Good News to the poor and to set the world on fire with the fire of love.
What makes our province passionate and alive and dynamic is the grateful look at the beautiful work of God from our humble origins and how He has providentially taken care of everything.
The holiness of the foundress of our province and of so many of our sisters helps us to go forward humbly, courageously, in spite of our poverty and the obstacles that are not lacking. How fruitful was her sacrifice of love! Today, we are the heirs of this treasure!
The spiritual animation that we have received, both from the Church and from the Congregation, encourages us in everything to follow the same path of sharpening the ear and the eyes of the heart to hear the cry of the poorest, whatever their poverty, and to have the wisdom and the discernment to go to meet the “peripheries” who are waiting for the light of the Gospel and of Hope.
The wind of the Spirit continues to blow.
Like Mother Rivier and Mother Trindade: “Let us be saints, apostles, true disciples of Jesus Christ.
May the Virgin Mary, our Mother, our Queen, help us to be faithful to such a rich heritage left by our holy foundresses.