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Our History

Our History -Roots and Growth

The Yankton Benedictines trace our roots to St. Benedict who founded the Our History: Yankton Benedictines Photo of Maria Rickenbach Monastery in SwitzerlandBenedictine way of life at Monte Cassino, Italy in the 5th century. The Rule of St. Benedict has as its core community life with a balance of work and prayer. From there Benedictines spread throughout the world including Switzerland and the community of Maria Rickenbach. In 1874, five sisters from Maria Rickenbach came to Maryville, Missouri. Out of this mission grew the beginning of Sacred Heart Monastery in 1880.

Bishop Martin Marty OSB, the Vicar Apostolic of Dakota Territory, soon visited the young community and asked the sisters to assist him in ministering to the Native American people at Fort Yates on the Standing Rock Reservation in present-day North and South Dakota. Our History: Yankton Benedictine Sisters at Standing Rock Reservation ministering to Native Americans.Because of the distance from Missouri to Fort Yates, the sisters moved the motherhouse to Zell, South Dakota, and in 1889 relocated to the bluffs of the Missouri River in Yankton where we purchased an empty school building adjacent to Bishop Marty’s residence.


Here in Yankton there currently are 85 members who live a community life according to the Rule of St. Benedict. The Benedictine Sisters of Yankton serve the people of the area in a variety of ministries including education, Our History: Yankton Benedictines (pictured) welcome a variety of volunteer activities within the care, parish ministry, social services, retreats, and a variety of volunteer activities. We sponsor Mount Marty College in Yankton, and together with the Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen, SD sponsor Avera Health, a multi-state health care system.

View The Monastery on the Missouri — an article from South Dakota Magazine.

Download our Call of the Prairie | History of Our Community Presentation.


Benedictine History

S. Ann recently completed the revised, updated and reorganized edition of Benedictine Men and Women of Courage: Roots and History, done in collaboration with Dr. Neville Kelly. Photo courtesy of the Yankton Press and DakotanPassionate author who has written extensively about S. Benedict, S. Ann Kessler has published “Benedictine Men and Women of Courage: Roots and History.” She continues to share Benedictine history through a blog on

Benedictine Sisters
Sacred Heart Monastery
1005 W. 8th St.
Yankton, SD 57078

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