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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Presentation Cemetery is the burial site of several Presentation sisters and two parish priests who served in the parish of Renews, NL. The cemetery is located atop a prominant knoll directly behind Holy Apostles Church and is adjacent to the Grotto de Lourdes on Mass Rock, offering an unencumbered view of Renews Harbour. The designation includes the walled cemetery and surrounding land.
The Presentation Cemetery has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Renews/Cappahayden due to its historic, cultural and aesthetic values.
The historical value of the Presentation Cemetery lies in its association with the expansion of the Presentation Order in Newfoundland and Labrador. In St. John’s in 1833, the Presentation Order established the first English-speaking convent in what would become Canada. From modest beginnings in St. John’s, the Presentation sisters gradually expanded to rural areas, seeing to the educational needs of generations of young Newfoundlanders. On August 9, 1876, members of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Presentation convent were moved from Admiral’s Cove (now Port Kirwan) to Renews, with a proper convent and school building to follow. The annuals of the convent from 1877 report that, “the Convent School was opened. Sixty five children were in attendance.” By the following summer there were more than one hundred pupils registered. Some of the sisters who taught in Renews are buried in the Presentation Cemetery, including sisters O’Donnell, Mulally, Gealy and Kineally who were among the first sisters at convent.
Also interred at the Presentation Cemetery are Reverent John Walsh and Dean Charles McCarthy. Both are well remembered in the community and are a recognized part of its history. A native of Cappahayden, Ireland, Father Walsh served the parish of Renews for forty years. He was responsible for the construction of Holy Apostles Church and upon his death in 1912 was remembered as “A good priest, a faithful pastor, a loving father to his people.” The name of the neighbouring settlement of Broad Cove was renamed Cappahayden after Father Walsh’s hometown in Ireland. In 1927, Dean McCarthy initiated the construction of the Grotto de Lourdes on Mass Rock, now a well recognized feature on the community’s cultural landscape. He served the parish of Renews for thirty seven years. His epitaph in Presentation Cemetery reads, “His people revere the memory of a man of child like faith and unswerving love of God, his life an inspiration even to his brother priests.”
The Presentation Cemetery has cultural value because it is a physical reminder of the influence of the Presentation Order in the community of Renews and the role they played in the education of the community’s youth. It is a reminder of a time when education in Newfoundland and Labrador was conducted largely under the leadership of religious institutions. On the Southern Shore, where the majority of the population is Roman Catholic, many were taught by members of religious orders. On June 20, 1981, four days after Renews school was closed for summer break, the convent at Renews was officially closed and the keys turned over to the Generalate in St. John’s, the conclusion to more than a century of education under the guidance of the Presentation sisters. In 1997, following a public referendum on the issue, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador discontinued its funding of denominational schools and introduced a non-religious, public system.
The Presentation Cemetery has aesthetic value due to its unique environmental setting. There is an unobstructed view of Renews Harbour from the hill upon which the cemetery is situated. The walled burial plot is on the crest of this hill and is clearly visible from many vantage points. From its southwestern orientation, the cemetery looks out over Holy Apostles Roman Catholic Church, the nearby grotto and the grounds where the Presentation convent and school once stood. The priests’ memorial plaques and sisters’ headstones are made of marble, as are the walls surrounding the burial plot.
Source: Town of Renews/Cappahayden Regular Council Meeting Tuesday, February 7, 2006
All those elements which represent the historic, cultural and aesthetic value of the site, including:
-marble memorial stones of Presentation sisters and priests;
-marble walls surrounding the graveyard;
-positioning of grave markers;
-present size, location and orientation of memorial stones;
-present size, location and orientation of cemetery;
-unobstructed view and open space in front of cemetery site, and;
-open space surrounding cemetery.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
1 Springdale Street
St. John's, NL
Cross-Reference to Collection