“Hear both the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor.” ~Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, #49
The past two years have brought much change for each of us. Our congregation built two new residences. Presentation Center is located in Sioux Falls, S.D., and adjacent to Avera McKennan Hospital while Presentation Place in Aberdeen, S.D., is located on the campus of Avera Mother Joseph Manor. Changing health needs of the Sisters, a smaller carbon footprint, and better stewardship of resources were all reasons for the new residences.
With the move completed in early 2021, this last year has brought us into deeper discernment on how to steward the property/land at Presentation Heights, while best serving the Presentation Mission into the future. Development of the land requires much research and is labor intensive. Jamie Risse and Jared Hohn joined us in January 2021 and serve as the integral ecology project co-directors.
We are led by our mission in all that we do and this is no different. One of our core values is to do nothing alone; we always seek to connect with others who can work with us in furthering the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “Together, we continue to look ahead with our partners, as we have always done, in regards to our future and to addressing needs both locally and globally,” shares congregational president Sister Janice Klein.
We desire to enhance the property by bringing out more of its natural beauty as a lasting gift to the Aberdeen community and region. We are using Laudato Si, an encyclical written by Pope Francis in 2015 as a guide in our discernment process, which calls us all to care of creation and for our brothers and sisters in need.
Inherent in this discernment process is to work closely with Avera Health, the Aberdeen business community, and Presentation College, who shares our 125 acre campus at Presentation Heights. Enhancing the land will benefit both missions. Presentation College will continue to serve students in its current location. The administrative offices for the convent will remain at Presentation Heights for now.
We are also in partnership with EcoSun Prairie Farms, an expert in the native grasslands of South Dakota. They have been supportive in teaching us how we can revive the beautiful native grasses and forbs that grew naturally around Presentation Heights which is located on the ancestral homelands of the Oceti Sakowin (pronounced O-Cheh-tee Shah-ko-ween), meaning the “Seven Council Fires” of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people, also known as the Great Sioux Nation.
In May, with the assistance of EcoSun, we completed a spring planting of a variety of warm, native grasses and forbs (flowers) on the land. “The summer brought very little rain to our area. But even with the drought conditions, we were excited to see growth. We moved forward and finished a second planting in September which consisted of fall, cool grasses/forbs, “stated Jamie Risse.
“The native grasslands that grew wild around Aberdeen were naturally very diverse. The two separate plantings of warm and cool season grasses/forbs give us the best opportunity to recreate that diversity, study what grows best, and manage the land in a holistic manner,” added Jared Hohn.
We are excited as we look to enhance our current partnerships and also invite others who share our values and mission to join us on this journey. We continue to learn and gain understanding of land stewardship and look forward to sharing all we learn through educational sessions, conferences and hosted events.