'Solitude:' Valley City's Maryvale donated to Fargo Diocese by Catholic sisters

Just outside Valley City, North Dakota, a group of Catholic sisters have long called Maryvale home. The Sisters of Mary of the Presentation have long been part of the fabric in communities in Eastern North Dakota. But now, in an unselfish act of hospitality, the sisters have made a huge decision that is historic for them, and the Fargo Diocese.

Maryvale is a provincial center, as well as home of the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY News

VALLEY CITY, N.D. — Across the Sheyenne River just north of Valley City, perfectly tucked in the Barnes County hills, sits Maryvale. Home of the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation.

Inside, priests from the Catholic Diocese of Fargo are on retreat. And in the future, the eight sisters who still live there will see more retreats.

"We've been praying and discussing it for a few years, how to continue the ministry here," said Sister Suzanne Stahl, regional superior for Sisters of Mary of the Presentation.

The sisters at Maryvale have decided to donate their convent, and 400 acres of space, to the Fargo Diocese. Maryvale will become a full-time retreat center for groups, the diocese, families and individuals.

"I like the place, the room outside, and it's quiet, it's in the country. I'm a country girl and I love to hear the cows and the frogs in the summer. And just have places to walk and be quiet," said Sister Elaine Lange, regional assistant for Sisters of Mary of the Presentation.


The remaining sisters at Maryvale worked out a little deal with the Fargo Diocese and will stay on site as it becomes an active retreat center.

"This is our home and the sisters want to live here until they die, if possible," Sister Suzanne said.

The sisters' history there is rich. They arrived from France in the 1900s, and some of the straw trunks used still remain at Maryvale. For years, the convent taught and ran hospitals.

When Maryvale was built in the 60's, close to 50 sisters lived here.

"This is our heritage room," Sister Suzanne said, pointing to the antiques and collectibles from schools and convents the sisters brought to Maryvale following closures of their places nationwide.

Now, less than 10 sisters call this home. And so, the fact these sisters cared for and welcomed strangers for so many years, it comes as no surprise they want their tradition to continue even after they're gone.

"People don't get solitude anymore. And we have a lot of solitude here, which actually renews them in body, mind and spirit," Sister Suzanne said.

The sisters also have missions in Cameroon, Africa and serve in five countries.


For information on booking retreats, email or call 701-845-2864

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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