UNITED STATES PROVINCE
HISTORY OF FOUNDATION
The Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, founded by Blessed Anne-Marie Rivier in Thueyts, France, in 1796, first came to the New World in 1853, in Marieville, P.Q., Canada. By that time, many French-Canadians had begun immigrating to the industrial centers of New England. Entire families had left their farms and moved southward to the United States seeking employment in the paper and textile mills.
A call arose from the Church in the United States asking for help in caring for these people who had left all they knew, seeking a better life for themselves and their families. In 1873, in an attempt to meet the spiritual and educational needs of this population, the daughters of the Woman Apostle once again crossed international boundaries to teach Jesus Christ.
The first American foundation was in Glens Falls, New York. From there, the Sisters opened a boarding school in Island Pond, Vermont, in 1886. Many foundations quickly followed in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Most of these foundations were parish schools. During all this time, the Sisters still belonged to the Canadian Province of St. Hyacinthe.
At the request of Bishop Georges-Albert Guertin, Bishop of Manchester, the Sisters came to Hudson, New Hampshire, and in 1926, Presentation of Mary Academy opened its doors as a boarding school for girls. Though the boarding school was phased out in 1971, there still thrives, within the halls of PMA, an elementary school which serves some 500 boys and girls from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
In 1938, the United States became an independent province known as the Hudson Province. Ten years later, due to the great number of vocations, and of schools where the Sisters ministered, it became evident that the Province of the United States was too large for one administration and so in 1948, the Hudson Province saw to schools in New Hampshire and Rhode Island, while the Biddeford Province, saw to establishments in Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
In 1958, the Hudson Province purchased a group of buildings that had once served as a hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire. The Provincial Administration now transferred from Hudson to Manchester, NH. Henceforth, the Province became known as the Manchester Province. Soon, a second building opened as the Infirmary for the Province serving as such until 1980 when it then became the Provincial Chapel and a sisters’ residence. Finally, at this time, a new and larger, more modern combination of Assisted Living and Infirmary was added to this property given the increasing number of elderly and sick.
The Biddeford Province was established in 1948 with its Provincial Administration located at Marie Joseph Academy in Biddeford Pool, Maine. With time, Marie Joseph could no longer house both a flourishing Academy and the Provincial Administration. In 1957, the Searles Estate, located in Methuen, Massachusetts, was purchased to house the Provincial Administration. At this point the province became known as the Methuen Province. Due to the decreasing number of Sisters in both provinces, and for the sake of mission, on August 15, 2012, the Manchester and the Methuen Provinces were reunited to form the United States Province.
Two centuries and several thousand miles separate us in time and in location from Blessed Anne Marie Rivier and the sacred ground she walked, yet today her Sisters of the United States continue to keep alive her charism: to live and proclaim Jesus Christ by their very lives.
Present Life and Ministries
The Sisters of the Presentation of Mary in the United States are vibrantly alive, mission oriented and community minded as we journey into tomorrow, placing our trust in God alone. We believe our lives lived in community are essential to our identity as we answer God’s call by walking in the footsteps of our foundress Blessed Marie Rivier. As our Rule of Life states we seek to inspire one another to live the Gospel as we strive to make Jesus Christ known and loved. Day by day, in the sanctity of our vocation, we love one another and help one another grow in holiness. We live the “let us come together” in the day to day of our lives: our apostolic work, our sharing in community, and our celebrations. No matter our age or ministry, our hope stems from the fact that we live our lives in and for Jesus Christ. This, in itself, is a powerful witness for the world in which we live! This is evident in our daily interactions and relationships with one another, our coworkers, our lay employees, our family members, our friends, and all of God’s people.
The United States Province has two academic institutions and one retreat center. Our other ministries include hospitality, intercessory prayer for the world, nursing home chaplaincy, spiritual direction, teaching in diocesan schools, and outreach to the poor. In the United States we minister/live in the following areas: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.
We seek to work collaboratively with the laity in the Church. We hope to pass on our charism and mission as Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, to share Marie Rivier’s spirit and to be a vibrant presence in the Church! We desire to give to others her unshakable trust in divine providence and her outstanding audacity. We can’t keep this for ourselves we must pass it on. Marie Rivier invites us today to do what she did in her own time: animated and sustained by our Marian devotion, we make Jesus Christ known and loved by our whole life! Moreover, in the USA, there is a dedicated group of members who belong to the Consecrated laity of the Presentation of Mary, as well as a large number of Marie Rivier Associates.
Rivier University is a four-year, Catholic institution that welcomes students from all backgrounds and provides a transformative and supportive educational experience.
Located in Nashua, New Hampshire, Rivier was founded in 1933, by Sister Madeleine of Jesus, a Sister of the Presentation of Mary. Throughout its history, the University has been dedicated to providing a learning environment that educates the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. Graduates from Rivier excel professionally, academically, and in service to their communities.
Rivier University offers academic programs at the Undergraduate, Professional Studies, Graduate, and Doctoral levels. No matter what level of study, the academic experience is engaging, hands-on, and face-to-face with faculty. Students can choose from online and hybrid classes in addition to traditional courses on a 68-acre campus.
Committed to the faith heritage, intellectual tradition, and social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the University educates the whole person in the context of an academic community that cultivates critical thought, sound judgment, and respect for all people. This community supports the intellectual growth of all its members while offering them opportunities for social, cultural, moral, and spiritual development. The challenge to the University community is to search for truth through the dialogue between faith and reason.
Rivier creates an environment in which integrated learning is the shared responsibility of students, faculty, staff, and administrators, and is pursued in all the curricular and co-curricular programs of the University. To participate in the life of Rivier University is to strive for academic excellence, to take responsibility for ourselves and for others, and to engage in dialogue about basic human issues facing society, especially the plight of the poor and powerless. The University extends to all of its members, and also to the greater community, an invitation to join in intellectual inquiry and dialogue.
Presentation of Mary Academy
Presentation of Mary Academy is a private co-educational Catholic school founded and owned by the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. The Academy dates back to 1926 when an all-girls elementary and boarding high school was established in Hudson, New Hampshire. The sisters purchased the present 90 acres of land to build an elementary and secondary school in southern New Hampshire. After several years of growth, these pioneering educators expanded their mission and founded Rivier University across the river in Nashua, NH. In 1990, the high school closed to accommodate the spatial requirements of an expanding elementary school.
In 2009, Presentation of Mary expanded its educational system to include programs for three and four-year-old children. In 2011 the academy built an athletic field superior to any in the area. The Thompson Center for Athletics and Performing Arts was completed in 2018. Today, Presentation of Mary Academy continues its tradition of growth and educational excellence. School enrollment presently stands at over 500 students, and continues to grow through the commitment of an outstanding faculty and staff, and a dedicated partnership with parents, alumni and benefactors.
Presentation of Mary Academy, a private Catholic school, recognizes that every student is a child of God. We are committed to helping all children develop academically, spiritually, socially, and emotionally by nurturing their unique gifts and talents. In the footsteps of Anne-Marie Rivier, the foundress of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, we prepare our students as Catholic leaders, ethical individuals, and lifelong learners.
Diocesan Schools Where our Sisters Teach
Lawrence Catholic Academy – Lawrence, MA
Saint Francis of Assisi School – Litchfield, NH
Marie Joseph Spiritual Center
Nestled along Maine’s southern coast, Marie Joseph Spiritual Center, owned and operated by the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, offers a spiritual haven for many. Refreshment for spirit, mind and body is available for persons seeking a sacred space, silence, healing and a deeper relationship with their God. The Center’s sustaining inspiration and zeal find their roots in that of the Congregation’s foundress, Blessed Marie Rivier, whose desire was “to make Jesus Christ known and loved everywhere”.
The Center welcomes persons of all faith traditions who value time for reflection in the peaceful presence of a praying community. Guests are welcomed to Morning and Evening Prayer as well as daily Eucharist when a priest is available. Once a week there is adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Two dining rooms afford the choice of a silent meal or one where conversation is shared. In addition to welcoming retreatants, the Center’s staff designs and hosts programs fostering themes on spiritual growth, healing and support.
The Congregation of the Presentation of Mary has offered a calming, peaceful presence since 1948 when a young women’s boarding school flourished on this seaside site. Its transformation into a spiritual center took place in 1978. The building dates back to the late 1800’s, when the Ocean View Hotel was established in Biddeford Pool. While no longer a vacation resort, Marie Joseph Spiritual Center continues a tradition of offering hospitality in the context of spiritual nurturance.
Nursing Home Chaplaincy
One of our sisters ministers at St. Teresa Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a licensed health care center for individuals needing skilled nursing care. At the nursing home, her responsibilities include updating medical records, performing secretarial duties, and sharing her faith in chaplaincy services.
A handful of our sisters serve as spiritual directors. The Ministry of Spiritual Direction has played an important role throughout the history of the Church. As people begin seeking God, desiring a growing relationship with God, or are struggling to make decisions and choices in line with God’s will, they often turn to someone with whom they can speak about their spiritual journey. Spiritual Direction provides an opportunity for people to have a conversation with someone who will listen deeply and unconditionally, listening in a way that helps them to really hear themselves and to listen to God present and active in their lives. The “director” in Spiritual Direction is the Holy Spirit.
Adoration and prayer are extremely important in the lives of our sisters. Our elderly sisters, in particular, offer God their day by praying for the needs of the world. They pray the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, the Eucharist, daily meditation on the Word of God, and Eucharistic adoration for the intentions of our Holy Father, our Congregation, and the Church. Many people confide their concerns and the concerns of their loved ones to the sisters who happily bring them before the Lord.
Vocation Ministry remains a priority for the sisters in the United States Province. By living lives of authenticity, faithfulness to the precepts of the Church, and visible commitment to our vows we hope to inspire other women to look deep within, to hear God’s voice. It is no secret that religious life in the United States is changing and emerging into something new. We acknowledge that we are presently at a crossroads and we welcome a new era for religious life. Like Mary, we deeply trust our God as we strive to live our consecrated lives with gratitude, enthusiasm, and joy.
We are confident that God continues to call women to a life of service as Sisters of the Presentation of Mary here in the United States and throughout our world. Believing this we are all encouraged to support vocations. For many of us this means storming heaven with our prayers, for others it means daring to invite women to consider a life of service in the Church, and for some it means walking closely with another to help her discover what God wants.
To better support women in their discernment, our province sponsors Ave Maria House, a home for women who seek to better know God’s will for their lives. Women who live at Ave Maria House have the opportunity to discern their vocation in community while living with the sisters. The sisters living at the house seek to provide women with an environment that is conducive to hearing God’s voice, by praying for them and supporting them in the discernment process.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and
a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11-
MARIE RIVIER ASSOCIATION AND LAY CONSECRATED PERSONS
Marie Rivier Association
The Marie Rivier Association provides an opportunity for women and men to share in the spirituality and mission of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, according to the spirit of their foundress, Blessed Marie Rivier. It challenges its members to live their Christian vocation to holiness and their mission of evangelization in the Church, while remaining in their present state of life.
Consecrated Women and Men of the Presentation of Mary, dedicate their lives to God through celibacy, prayer, community and service. In 2003 two women came looking for the “More”! All they had to bring were the little “loaves and fishes” of their lives. God took them, blessed them, and multiplied them! Today twelve members are consecrated and others are journeying towards consecration! They participate in gatherings permeated with prayer, scripture, adoration, Eucharist and fellowship.