Sisters of Mary of the Presentation
Maryvale is a Roman Catholic religious women’s community constructed in 1965 on the north edge of Valley City. The community is for the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation, for whom Maryvale serves as the Provincial Center for the “United States Province.”
Two sisters organized the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation in 1828 in Broons, France: they were Louise and Laurence LeMarchand. Their mission was to tend to the needs of people who were suffering religious persecution after the French Revolution. Father Joachim Fleury invited the two girls to teach and to bring the Christian message to the children, but they also cared for the sick, the disabled, and the elderly.
The LeMarchand home was near the parish church, and the girls’ father was a friend of Fleury. When Fr. Fleury came back to France after the Revolution, he was concerned to see many children from his parish knew nothing about God, and Christianity in general had been weakened.
Soldiers had destroyed the churches, and various cults had sprung up. If Mass was celebrated, it was done in secret. Father Fleury’s people told him how religious practices had been abandoned, and many were suffering both physically and spiritually.
Father Fleury turned to the two LeMarchand girls for help, and they began teaching young girls in their home. When they ran out of space, a woman offered them a house of their own, and the congregation of Sisters of Mary of the Presentation was begun. Hospitals were nonexistent during this time, and, after teaching, Louise went from house to house to visit and care for those who were sick. This aspect of Louise’s work has since evolved into the Prairieland Home Health Organization, which provides home health services to people across North Dakota.
In the early 1900s, another era of religious persecution forced the Sisters of Mary to leave France, and they ended up migrating to Belgium, Canada, the island of Guernsey, and the United States. The Sisters in the U.S. settled in Wild Rice, south of Fargo, where they opened their first school in 1903. That same year, the Sisters also opened their first hospital in Spring Valley, Illinois.
During World War I, the Sisters were able to reestablish themselves in France by running a hospital, and their Motherhouse in northern France is where the majority of the Sisters now live. Since the 1950s, they’ve also established five missions in Cameroon in Africa.
In the U.S., 54 Sisters are affiliated with the Valley City Provincial House; Maryvale provides them a residence, business headquarters, spiritual center, hospitality center and a retirement home. They currently own hospitals in Bottineau, Harvey and Rolla and also own six nursing homes: Hillcrest Manor in Enderlin, Presentation Care Center in Rolette, Central Dakota in Jamestown, Sheyenne Care Center in Valley City and, in Fargo, Villa Maria and Rosewood on Broadway.
Several Sisters are also involved in the field of education.
The Sisters of Mary of the Presentation conduct various ministries in Bottineau and Fort Yates and also conduct a rural mental health ministry in different places around the state. Of their prayer ministry, they write: “The Elderly/Sick Sisters of our Province are involved in the ministry of Prayer. Each Sister is assigned to pray for one of the active ministries of our Province and for the leadership of the various sections of our Congregation. We also pray for any persons or intentions that are inscribed in the Prayer Journal kept in the Maryvale Chapel. Many of the Sisters at our Provincial House are also part of the prayer ministry of St. Catherine Parish (in Valley City).”
Sources: Elaine Lange, Hospitality, Hometown Style (Sermon, preached in July 2002); http://www.ictc.com/~maryvale/index.htm
Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm