Sisters of the Presentation of Mary
The Sisters of the Presentation of Mary are a religious congregation in the Latin Rite branch of the Catholic Church. It was founded in 1796 at Thueyts in the Ardèche department of south-central France, by Blessed Anne-Marie Rivier (1768–1838); originally, the congregation was devoted to the education of young girls.
The mother-house was permanently established at Bourg-Saint-Andéol, which is located in the Diocese of Viviers in the Rhône Valley, southern France. Today, the Sisters minister in eighteen countries and are present on all five continents.
The Sisters in Canada
The provincial house in Canada was founded on 18 October 1853, by Jean-Charles Prince, first Bishop of St. Hyacinthe. It is also the mother-house and where the religious make their vows. The first six sisters, with Mother Marie St-Maurice as superior, settled at Sainte-Marie-de-Monnoir (Marieville, Quebec), where the Rev. Fr. E. Crevier, pastor of the parish, had prepared a convent. They opened a boarding-school and a class for day pupils.
In 1855 the novitiate was transferred to Saint-Hugues, Quebec, and in 1858 it was definitively located at Saint-Hyacinthe in a convent which was occupied up to this time by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame from Montreal.
This house was of insufficient accommodation and the community was obliged to erect, not far from the seminary, a large building of which they took possession in 1876. The house occupied since 1858 then became an academy. Later it was necessary to add a large annex to the first building. The students were installed there in 1907. The provincial house is at the same time the mother-house of the institution in Canada.
The Canadian Sisters are engaged in a variety of apostolates: campus ministry in secondary schools, teaching, Catholic Christian Outreach at universities, nursing, inner city, spiritual direction pastoral care, and working with the people of the First Nations.
The Sisters in the United States
The sisters from Canada established the first community in the United States at Glens Falls, New York. In 1886 this was followed by a boarding school in Island Pond, Vermont. Other foundations (mostly parochial schools) were set up in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. In 1933, Rivier College, a Catholic liberal arts college, was established in Nashua, New Hampshire. In 1938, the communities in the United States became independent of those in Canada.
Over the years, the Sisters have broadened their ministry from the original focus on schools in the northeastern United States. In 1950, a community was established in the Philippines, and vocations were so plentiful that the Philippines became a separate province. From 1973-1991 they worked amongst the Native Americans and Latinos of New Mexico, and from 1980-2005 they laboured amongst the poor of eastern Kentucky. In 2008 a community was established in Houston, Texas, called Casa de Esperanza (House of Hope) from which the Sisters work with children who have been subjected to abuse, deserted by parents or exposed to HIV/AIDS.
The life of the Sisters
The Sisters take the traditional religious vows of poverty (simple living), chastity (as a sign that only God can truly fulfill human needs) and obedience (discerning what God wants them to do) in order to better devote themselves to their ministry. Their ultimate goal is a closer union with God through service to His people.
The charism of the Sisters is one of "..the spirit of self-offering in imitation of Mary," the Mother of Christ. At the centre of their existence is their "..relationship with God, the mystery of prayer." In order to foster this experience, they live together in order to share "..struggles, joys possessions and our lives."
The Sisters offer a discernment programme for both males and females wishing to discover God's will. This may involve three weekend retreats and, for women, a live-in experience.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Congregation of the Presentation of Mary". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.