Benedictine and Presentation Sisters
The Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery trace the origin of their religious order to St. Benedict, a fifth century monk.
The Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary were founded by Nano Nagle, an 18th Century Irish woman who helped the poor.
Historians believe that St. Benedict of Nursia lived from about 480 to 547. Today, we have only two sources through which to know about him: a set of guidelines, called his Rule, which he wrote for people living a monastic way of life; and a brief description of him penned by Gregory the Great about 50 years after Benedict's death.
When it came time for the young Benedict to pursue higher education, he went off to Rome to study liberal arts. However, once there and looking around at the way so many fellow students were decaying spiritually, he decided to avoid such a fate, give up his classical education, and go out to the remote hill country of Subiaco to live in a cave where he thought he could encounter and learn about God.
Over time Benedict did encounter and learn about God. Other people, who had come out to the wilderness for similar reasons, recognized Benedict's leadership abilities and his common sense in living a monastic style of life. When they asked him to put in writing some of his principles for monastic living, he wrote his Rule.
For three-quarters of Christian history, men and women monks have used his Rule to guide their monastery life. Coming together to live a celibate communal life, with a spiritual leader chosen by the community, these men and women give themselves to the Lord's service. Knowing that the divine presence is everywhere, they listen attentively in all circumstances for sounds of the Lord, sounds guiding them as a community and as individuals to actions on the Lord's behalf. Among Benedictine men and women of past and present, one can find musicians and artists, preachers and liturgists, farmers and bakers, doctors and lawyers, scholars and writers. And in all these works, these women and men carry out the essential work of seeking God, preferring nothing whatever to Christ.
Nano Nagle founded the Presentation Sisters more than 175 years ago in Ireland. She was born in Ireland and lived there until she was a teenager, at which time her parents sent her to France to study. She loved the "good life" in France, often staying out into the early hours of the morning, enjoying parties and fancy balls. As a young woman, she was oblivious to the problems of her people back in Ireland, who were suffering for their faith under the country's Penal Laws.
In time, however, through the example of her sister Ann who worked to help the poor, Nano experienced a conversion. She began to think about the small children of her home city who were growing up without knowledge of their faith because the Penal Laws threatened imprisonment or death to anyone caught teaching the Catholic faith to others. As a result, Nano went back to Ireland, to her hometown, Cork, and began, at great risk, to teach the faith to small groups of children in what were called 'hedgerow' schools.
For many years Nano organized and managed these schools. In time, she was educating several hundred children in a number of schools hidden away in parts of Cork. Eventually the authorities discovered what she was doing but decided to hold off arresting her to see whether "any real trouble" resulted from her activities.
In addition to her work of teaching, Nano, after spending most of the day with children, would then spend her evenings visiting the sick and elderly in the slum areas of Cork. This is where she got the nickname, the Lady of the Lantern, because she would go from hovel to hovel carrying a lantern so as to see her way through the city's dark and narrow lanes.
Community governing boards define goals for Avera’s not-for-profit sponsored and managed institutions and assure that local health care needs are met in appropriate ways.
The Avera Health Board of Directors defines system-wide mission, vision and goals, keeping in mind the health needs of the entire region. The 16-member Board includes Benedictine and Presentation Sisters, physicians and business and community leaders from several locations in the Avera Health service region.
The Avera Health Board of Consultors is a 50-member group of trustees, physicians and administrators from throughout the region. The Board of Consultors meets twice yearly to advise the Avera Health President on health care issues and to promote system-wide sharing of ideas, experience and professional resources.
Avera Health’s sponsors, the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton, S.D. and the Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen, S.D. delegate sponsorship responsibilities for their combined health ministry to a group of six Sisters—three from each community—called the System Members.
Services Provided by Avera
Avera Health assists its partners by providing “back office” support services, such as legal consultation, quality benchmarking, coding, computer services, contract negotiations, administrative consultation, group purchasing, human resource assistance and many other services. The support services are provided by staff at the Avera Health Central Office and at Avera’s five regional centers: Avera St. Luke’s in Aberdeen S.D., Avera Queen of Peace in Mitchell S.D., Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls S.D., Avera Sacred Heart in Yankton, S.D. and Avera Marshall in Marshall, Minn. Because the costs of the support services are shared, local caregivers are able to devote more resources to patient and resident care.
Avera Health includes sponsored partners and managed/leased partners. Sponsored partners are those institutions for which the Benedictine and Presentation Sisters retain some governance powers and imbue with their values and mission. Managed/leased partners are those institutions that have contracted for full management services with Avera Health and one of its four regional centers. Avera also provides specific services on an a la carte basis to health facilities without full management contracts.
The Avera Health Administrative Council is responsible for Avera Health operations, services and programs. The President’s Council includes members of the Administrative Council and the Presidents of Avera’s sponsored facilities.