Posted on Apr 23, 2017
Two Roman Catholic sisters at the forefront of advancing social justice and strengthening communities in South Dakota spoke at the Rotary Club of Downtown Sioux Falls, Monday, April 17, about how the Presentation Sisters are achieving renewed relevancy through evolving priorities and new missions. 

The Sisters have spent years educating, tending the sick and reaching out to lift up those made poor,” said Sister Lynn Marie Welbig. “The Sisters in every era have responded to the needs of that time and that place, always forwarding gospel living and the common good. … Lately, the systems that make and keep people on the floor of society has driven the Sisters into new places of ministry.

Sister Lynn Marie Welbig discussed efforts of the Presentation Sisters to influence state legislation and public policy through lobbying in Pierre. Sister Janet Horstman talked about the Presentation Sisters’ service to South Dakota’s immigrant communities.
Politics is a sacred work,” said Sister Lynn Marie Welbig. “It is the art and science of how we order our South Dakota society for the common good.” As lobbyists, the Presentation Sisters focus on bills dealing with children, such as food access, sex trafficking and abortion. They also speak out about bills dealing with discrimination and incivility toward refugees, about the gun culture, Muslims, ethics in government and the election process.

In 1880, six Irish women set foot in Dakota Territory, coming at the invitation of Bishop Martin Marty, to educate the Native Americans and the immigrant European settlers. “These Presentation Sisters came as immigrants, and they survived a very harsh first winter, thanks in large part to the Native Americans who welcomed them and helped provide for their needs.” said Sister Janet Horstman. “Our ministry at Caminando Juntos is about welcoming newer Latino immigrants, just as the Native Americans welcomed our Sisters. It’s about walking with them and doing what we can to help them successfully integrate into our Sioux Falls and surrounding communities.” She discussed the critical importance of immigration legal services.

Sister Lynn Marie Welbig has worked for 28 years in the education ministry as a teacher and principal in South Dakota and Minnesota, and as president of Presentation College. She has served on numerous boards and committees including the Diocesan Board of Education, the South Dakota Vocational Education Committee, the board of Catholic Health Association of the United States, Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, Aberdeen Hospice, Avera McKennan, Avera Queen of Peace, Avera Sacred Heart and she chaired the board of Avera Health. She earned associate and bachelor degrees in education, masters in elementary education administration, a masters and licentiate in canon law, and a doctorate in leadership in education.

Sister Janet Horstman was educated by the Presentation Sister in Mitchell, S.D., and spent 19 years teaching at Catholic high schools in South Dakota and Nebraska. After language and cross-cultural studies, she spent two years ministering in Guerrero, Mexico. Prior to beginning the ministry of Caminando Juntos in Sioux Falls, she served as director of outreach ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Omaha for nine years. She is a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative, certified to provide immigration legal services to low-income individuals and families. She also sits on the Avera Health board of directors.

Program Highlights:
  • In 1880, six Irish women came to Platte, SD, to found the Presentation Sisters in SD.  Today, there are nearly 2,000 Presentation Sisters worldwide.
  • The Sisters assist immigrants with proper dress in weather conditions, medical care, dealing with landlords, law enforcement, abusive relationships, legal services, English classes, legal immigration status.
  • 2017 will be the 2nd year that two Sisters participate in SD's legislative process by lobbying.
  • The Sisters feel that politics is a sacred duty, remaining a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, as it seeks the common good.
  • There were 400 Bills introduced this year in the Legislature.  The Sisters are interested in any bill that affects children, from health and welfare to adoption.  They are also interested in sex trafficking, opioid use, discrimination, concealed weapons, the death penalty, and Medicaid.
  • Contact info:; Facebook /Presentation.Sisters.Aberdeen;  1500 North Second Street, Aberdeen, SD  57401
  • In Sioux Falls:  Brook Nicholson Grote, Dir. Mission Development--605-271-0468
Next Week’s Program:
Dr. Craig Howe, Ex. Dir., CAIRNS—Native Americans/Their Place in SD History