Sisters mark 125 years of service
Within five days of arriving in Fargo from Ireland, the first five Presentation Sisters opened a school here. Now 125 years later, the Catholic sisters' legacy of education remains, as well as strong ministries in health care and social justice. ...
Within five days of arriving in Fargo from Ireland, the first five Presentation Sisters opened a school here.
Now 125 years later, the Catholic sisters' legacy of education remains, as well as strong ministries in health care and social justice.
The Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary are celebrating the anniversary with an open house on Sunday.
On Monday, they will gather privately at Holy Cross Cemetery where the founding Presentation Sisters are buried.
"We try to remember the past when we're dealing with the present," said Sister Frances O'Neill, president of the Presentation Sisters. "We don't want to lose the good that happened in the past, but we want to build on it. That's what we're trying to do, to build on the past."
A timeline of the sisters' history shows an active past, dotted with schools and hospitals opening across the state, sisters taking on mission work, and the beginning of their prayer center, peace and justice office and housing projects.
"I think it's a very powerful understanding of what a group of women can do in the world today," said Sister Stella Olson.
Much has changed in that 125 years. The sisters moved from their location on north Broadway to Riverview Place along 52nd Avenue South to their current location on 32nd Avenue South. Their dress is different, as they no longer need to wear a habit. The ministry has branched out beyond education and health care, O'Neill said. And the numbers have changed.
In the late 1950s and early '60s, there were more than 150 sisters, O'Neill said. There are currently 51 Presentation Sisters, with 35 in Fargo, she said.
"There are fewer of us, but it seems like we're doing a lot more diverse kind of things than when I first joined," said O'Neill, who has been a nun for 53 years.
Part of that is due to the Presentation Associates - men and women of many denominations who work with the sisters in their various ministries. The first associates were accepted in 1981. There are now 86 of them.
Olson said the associates have broadened the sisters' ministry. She is optimistic of the future work of the order.
"Why would God have called me to religious life at 57 years of age if there wasn't an important future for us?" said Olson, now 67. "We are women that walk in the footsteps of Nano Nagle, our foundress. She has called us to be of service. We are here to serve God's people. That's how I look at it."
If you go
- What: Open house in honor of Presentation Sisters' 125th anniversary
- Where: Ministry building, 3001 11th St. S., Fargo
- When: 1:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday
- Info: (701) 237-4857
- Online: www.presentationsistersfargo.com
Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5525