By: Therese Jelinski
The Sisters of the Presentation of Mary are pleased to announce the release of Venturing into the Prairies, a book about their 110-year history in Western Canada.
Perhaps best known as the Sisters who have operated Rivier Academy and Marion Aquatics pool in Prince Albert since the 1970s and Discernment House in Saskatoon since 1986, the Sisters of the Presentation taught tens of thousands of children in public and Catholic schools in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, northern Alberta, and northern Ontario.
They also contributed significantly to music and culture through their music lessons and recitals, children's choirs, and numerous plays, musicals, and concerts. Saskatchewan and Manitoba owe much to the Sisters, too, for the promotion and preservation of French language and culture over many decades.
Since their arrival in Duck Lake in 1903, before Saskatchewan was even a province, the Sisters of the Presentation "simply trusted in Divine Providence in their mission of educating young people and doing works of mercy," says the Provincial Superior, Sister Lise Paquette of Prince Albert.
Almost 370 Sisters of the Presentation have served in Western Canada since 1903. Among the communities they taught in, besides Duck Lake and Prince Albert, were Wakaw, Spiritwood, Debden, Marcelin, Bellevue, Vawn, Green Lake, and North Battleford. Often operating schools with little or no government funding, these women pioneers worked tirelessly in the face of numerous challenges such as student poverty, ethnic tensions, bitter divisions on language and religious issues, and societal changes.
Founded in France in 1796 by a young woman called Marie Rivier, the Sisters of the Presentation now operate in 18 countries. The 62 professed Sisters who live and work in Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Regina, North Battleford, Big River (Whitefish) Reserve, and Bellevue have expanded their work beyond the traditional focus on academics and music education to include parish work, native ministry, prison ministry, spiritual direction, vocational discernment, and service in other countries. Their joyful ministry continues to attract young women to the religious life today.
Venturing into the Prairies is a 504-page softcover book filled with archival photos from the 23 communities where the Sisters of the Presentation have worked in Western Canada. The author, Therese Jelinski, has a journalism degree from Carleton University; her first book, Mom Lives Here (the history of Mont St. Joseph Home in Prince Albert), was published in 2011. A former resident of Prince Albert, she now lives in Saskatoon with her husband Tim.
Copies of Venturing into the Prairies will be available for signing at the book launch or can be purchased by sending a $50 cheque to the Sisters of the Presentation Heritage Fund, 1405 Bishop Pascal Place, Prince Albert, Sask., S6V 5J1 or by contacting Sister Priscilla at 1-306-961-0492 or 1-306-764-3445.
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