The Presentation Sisters were founded by Nano Nagle in Cork, Ireland in 1775. Nano was a woman of great courage who established secret schools (hedge schools) for Catholic children barred from education by oppressive British law. She taught long days, and at night she carried her lantern among Cork’s attics and alleyways, bringing comfort and hope to the city’s poor, sick and elderly.

In 1880, the Presentation Sisters were invited and came to Dakota Territory from Dublin, Ireland to teach the children of the Lakota people and French settlers. In 1886, three Sisters responded to Reverend Robert Haire’s invitation to start Sacred Heart School in Aberdeen and soon were staffing parish schools around the Diocese of Sioux Falls. When a diphtheria epidemic struck the Aberdeen area in 1900, the Sisters were asked to care for the sick. In 1901, they began a healthcare ministry by opening their first hospital, (Avera) St. Luke’s. Education and healthcare ministries expanded as needs of people in the region increased. In the 1960s, Sisters answered the Church’s call for missionaries. Presentation Sisters have been missioned to Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala and Zambia, Africa. With this same spirit, the congregation began a ministry in 2002 with Hispanic immigrants. The congregation continues to sponsor Presentation College and co-sponsor Avera Health, ensuring that the mission and values remain a constant for years to come. While best known for education and healthcare ministries, the thread that runs through the Aberdeen Presentation Sisters’ mission is to alleviate oppression and promote human dignity especially among the poor. As an apostolic congregation the sisters lives are centered in prayer from which their ministry flows; contemplation in action. The sisters say, “Justice is our Work” and they serve joyfully as the Blessed Virgin Mary and with zeal as Venerable Nano Nagle, their foundress.