Creating a greener lifestyle

July 17, 2017 by  

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To learn more about the Sisters of St. Joseph Ecological Integrity Committee, CLICK HERE.

Completely unplug from technology at least one day a month.


Evolutionary theory and theology meet at 2017 Theological Institute

July 14, 2017 by  

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Evolutionary theory about creation has not always received a cordial welcome in Christian faith, according to Dr. Gloria Schaab, SSJ, Ph.D., and speaker for the 2017 Theological Institute that began July 13 at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia. However, they need not be mutually exclusive, she assured the crowd.

“My core principal is that evolutionary theory and theology can serve as interpretive lenses or context for each other,” said Dr. Schaab as she promised to immerse the more than 50 attendees of the institute into an understanding of how theology and evolutionary science can coexist.

“We try to express the eternal truths of faith in ways that are accessible in a particular time and culture,” she said. “The language of translation we are using this weekend is science.”

Dr. Schaab has published and lectured extensively on the mystery of God through the lens of evolutionary science. The topic of the 2017 Theological Institute is “God in an Evolving Cosmos.” The institute will continue at the Motherhouse through July 16.

Dr. Schaab is a Sister of St. Joseph of Philadelphia, a professor of systematic theology and director of graduate programs in theology and ministry in the Department of Theology and Philosophy and Associate Dean for general education, College of Arts and Sciences, at Barry University in Miami, Fla. Schaab’s scholarly research focuses on the theology of God as Trinity, Christology, pneumatology, evolutionary theology, feminist theology and contextual theology. She is a recipient of the 2015 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal for outstanding contributions in theology to church and world.

The 2017 Theological Institute will explore what an evolutionary view of the cosmos may reveal about the Living God and the relationship between God and the world. Based on the proposal that everything is full of sacred presence, it contends that everything has the capacity to reveal the Living God. Plumbing the mysteries of ongoing creativity, emergent novelty and the strange attractor, the institute will explore the mystery of the Triune God who promises, “See, I am doing something new!”

The Sisters of St. Joseph established the annual Theological Institute a way to continue their long-standing educational tradition, exemplified by the schools they founded and staffed, including Marymount College in Salina. The program is held each summer in Concordia.

The 2018 Theological Institute is scheduled for July 12-15 and will feature Nancy Pineda-Madrid, PhD, speaking on the topic, “A Multi-Cultural Church in a Secularized Society: Hope, Promise, Possibility and Fulfillment.” She is an associate professor of Theology and Latino/a Ministry, Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry; Vice President, International network of Society of Catholic Theology; past-president, Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States; author of “Suffering and Salvation in Ciudad Juarez,” and “Hope: Promise, Possibility and Fulfillment.”

For more information on reserving a spot for the 2018 Theological institute, visit

Eulogy for Sister Gilberta Appelhans: March 18, 1926 – July 6, 2017

July 9, 2017 by  

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Vigil: July 9, 2017 at Nazareth Motherhouse, Concordia

Eulogist: Sister Marilyn Wall

“Seek in everything God’s contentment and not anything else,  and the better to practice this, remember in the entire living out of your life, in desolation, in sickness, etc., to desire God’s greater contentment without giving a thought to your own interests.”  Maxim 26

Sister Gilberta Appelhans was born March 18, 1926, to Joseph and Kathryn (Richmeier) Appelhans in the family home south and east of St. Peter, Kansas. She was baptized on March 19 and named Martina. She was the third oldest of nine living children. Her parents were of German-Russian descent.  She has many pleasant memories of the farm and the family that she grew up with. She recalls that when her older sisters went to school she would wait anxiously until they came home because they would tell her all about what happened that day and what they learned. Consequently, she was very ready for first grade when she was six.

When she was 15, a neighboring family needed help. They had six children, five boys ages 2 to 7 and an 11-month-old girl and the mother was pregnant with the seventh child. Since her sister Eleanor was her Dad’s right hand in the field and her sister Mary was needed to help with the cooking, Martina got to go. She said she went and worked harder than ever and loved it.

In September of 1947, Martina applied for a job at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Hays and was hired to work in the kitchen. Sr. Herbert asked her, “Have you ever thought of being a Sister. You would make a good one.”  

Also working there was Lucy Klaus.  One day Lucy let Martina read a letter from her aunt, Sr. Ermelina who lived at Marymount. In the letter, Lucy’s aunt asked which convent she was choosing, CSJ or St. Agnes.  Martina asked, “Are you really going to be a sister Lucy?”  “Yes, I am.” she replied, “ but I can’t make up my mind which one.”  Martina said, “If you go to Concordia, I will go with you.”  Lucy replied, “That is really the place I like best.  Let’s go!”  The two began making preparations and on Feb. 9, 1948, Martina’s parents drove both Martina and Lucy and their trunks to Concordia. The remaining members of that group are: Sr. Charlotte Lutgen, Sr. Ann Vincent Glatter and Sr. Norma Schlick.

In her life review, Martina wrote: “On August 15, 1948, we were received into the Novitiate. The traditional habit and the name, Sister Mary Gilberta, became mine.  I found great joy in being in the Novitiate.  One fact that helped was that Sr. Therese Marie, our Postulant Director, was appointed Novice Mistress that same day. I found her to be open to the signs of the times even then and, I believe, she could read into our/my acts. I was very much attached to her.”

After Temporary Profession in 1949, Sr. Gilberta was sent to Marymount to help in the kitchen.  Sr. Angelica was the head cook and taught her much. However, during her second year there, Sr. Angelica became ill with pneumonia and Srs. Gilberta, Helen and Regina Marie had to do all of the cooking including for Marymount Day. Sr. Gilberta mentioned that it was at Marymount that she began coming out of herself and learned to laugh at herself.

In 1951, Sr. Ermalina, who was now in Abilene at the Orphanage, came to Marymount and asked for prayers that they find a cook for the Orphanage. About a week later, Sr. Gilberta’s Superior told her that they wanted her to go to the Orphanage and do the cooking. Sr. Gilberta asked “How Soon?”  The Answer was Saturday afternoon. When she told Sr. Dolors goodbye, she was washing dishes and did not even look up, but said, “Good-bye, and you tell that Superior of yours I am not praying for her needs again.”  Sr. Gilberta said that her time at the orphanage was one of the happiest years of her religious life.  

In 1952, she was assigned to Sacred Heart Convent to cook and do laundry work for 23 Sisters.  She was there for four years and during that time her mother became very ill and died during her second hospitalization at St. John’s.  Because Sr. Gilberta was in Salina she was able to visit and support both of her parents, and she  was with her mother when she died.

In 1957 Gilberta was again assigned to the Motherhouse. She liked being there and was cooking.  In time she also spent 2 years there in the sewing room sewing habits and coats for the sisters and Novices.  During her time at the Motherhouse she also earned an associate of arts degree at the junior college in Concordia. She then went on to school in Houston to complete an Occupational Therapy program. She then was supervisor of Stafford Hall and later also Bookkeeper at the Motherhouse. In 1981, she completed a CPE  program at Independence, Iowa.  She then returned to the Motherhouse.  In all, she spent 33 years there.

Her final mention in her life review was that on Sunday, March 15, 1981, her family surprised her by coming to the Motherhouse to celebrate her birthday. They all liked it so well that they made it part of their lives, a yearly event.

She concluded with “I love my vocation of being a Sister of St. Joseph. The love of God is all around me, in me and in my neighbor.” Indeed, she was a faithful and faith-filled woman.

In 2011, Sr. Gilberta moved to Mount Joseph. Two of her last mission statements are of note:  “I have a strong work ethic with limited opportunity to serve, so my focus is ‘making things right.’  I stay attentive by  putting puzzles together, doing word finds, reading the daily newspapers and being attentive at Mass, communion services and Rosary and by being a spokesperson for others in the dining room.”   

In 2016-2017 she described her mission as, “To manifest gratitude and God’s blessings each day to all at Mount Joseph as well as my Sisters and find meaning in my limited way day-by-day by finding God in all things, people and at prayer.” Faithful to our CSJ charism, her ministry was her presence all of her life.

Sr. Gilberta, your smile and your ‘God bless you’ have touched countless numbers of people.

Now we say …. God bless you for having lived out your life faithfully, generously, and lovingly until at last, God took you home on July 6, 2017.  We will miss you, but believe that the angels have led you to God; that there you have also met the saints, and all whose lives you have touched and blessed. We believe that you are at home in the new and eternal Jerusalem! And yet we will look for your blessing and love in our daily lives and know we will see it because we all are ONE.  Thank you!  

• • • • • • •

Memorials for Sister Gilberta Appelhans may be given to the Sisters of St. Joseph Health Care/Retirement Fund or the Apostolic Works of the Sisters; P.O Box 279, Concordia KS 66901. To make an online donation in Sister Gilberta’s memory, click on the button below:


Discover Camp fills Motherhouse with laughter, prayer and song

June 27, 2017 by  

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The Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia with ringing with the sounds of giggles, laughter, prayer and song during the annual slumber party/spiritual retreat for junior-high age girls known as Discover Camp. The theme of this year’s camp was “We Are One Body.”

Under the guidance of camp coordinators Sisters Beverly Carlin and Anna Marie Broxterman and camp directors Katelyn Hutley and Kinsey Levendofsky, 36 girls came from across Kansas to spend June 15-17 with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. Campers, many making return visits, came from Concordia, Salina, Clay Center, Junction City, Chapman, St. George, Milford, Manhattan, Hanover, Ellis, Delphos and Wichita. Twelve high school- and college-age counselors, four staff members and countless other volunteers rounded out the group.

The campers, divided into groups of six, spread their sleeping bags throughout the open space on the fifth floor of the historic Motherhouse, but shared meals and other activities — including a Nazareth scavenger hunt and afternoon bingo at both the Motherhouse and Mount Joseph Senior Village — with the sisters who live there. The girls learned about teamwork by navigating a low ropes course with their group as well as creating and performing a group cheer.

One shared activity Friday evening was a cookout on the Motherhouse grounds. The meal is made possible by the local Knights of Columbus, who donated the hamburgers and hot dogs and then handled the grilling duties.

The days of fun came to an end Saturday evening when campers’ families were invited to a special Mass in the Sacred Heart Chapel at the Motherhouse, followed by an ice cream social hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph.

The sisters have hosted Discover Camp for girls entering the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grades since 2000. Girls wanting to attend the 2018 Discover Camp are encouraged to apply early in the spring as Sister Anna Marie noted that this year’s camp was full and had a waiting list.

Shoes are a good fit for Neighbor to Neighbor outreach program

June 27, 2017 by  

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Neighbor to Neighbor in Concordia is always a beehive of activity. But recent visitors might have noticed many women at Neighbor to Neighbor busy sewing not just clothing but hand-sewn shoes as part of an outreach program. Where does all that work go?

On Friday, June 23, the most recent fruits of all that sewing headed out on a journey to North Carolina, before flying onward to Uganda.

Dresses, shorts and shoes are hand-sewn at Neighbor to Neighbor.

“We just sent 12 boxes to North Carolina,” Sister Ramona Medina said. The boxes contained 122 hand-sewn dresses, 100 pairs of hand-sewn shorts, and 82 pairs of shoes crafted by the volunteer seamstresses at Neighbor to Neighbor. The boxes are sent to Soul Hope, Inc., a 501 (c)3 nonprofit in North Carolina dedicated to helping with foot-related diseases and medical relief, which will then distribute them to people in need in Uganda. Sister Ramona, along with Sister Pat McLennon and Sister Jean Befort direct Neighbor to Neighbor.

The group has been making dresses and shorts for some time, having completed more than 1,700 dresses and 500 shorts that have been distributed to children in need in Guatemala, Africa, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico and El Paso, Sister Ramona said. Some of the clothes are distributed by local church groups on their missions in other countries.

The shoes, however, fit a new need.

“We started with dresses and shorts,” said Neighbor to Neighbor assistant Myrna Shelton. “Then we found that children in Uganda had a serious problem with jiggers. So we started making them shoes.”

Jiggers (Tunga penetrans) are parasites that burrow into the skin, mainly on exposed feet, causing painful, debilitating lesions and sometimes death from secondary infections. Shoes help eliminate an entry point for these parasites.

The goal of this community outreach program was to create 100 pairs of shoes. “We’ve exceeded that a little bit,” Sister Ramona said. And they plan to deliver more.

Many area women have volunteered time on the project, including Dorothy Bowersox, Sister Cese Green, Doris Hale, Joyce McClanahan, Vicki Menard, Annette Hood and Verna Hamel, as well as many others who lend a helping hand when they can.

“Annette has sewn all the shoe tops on (to the soles) by hand,” Sister Ramona said. “It has really been teamwork on the shoes. No one could do this alone”

While Neighbor to Neighbor started with trying to meet the needs of the local community, it has now grown into so much more. Women who have learned skills, such as sewing, can use them to help reach other people in need, Sister Pat said.

“The women are very excited about what they are doing,” Sister Pat said. “It is so good for them to know they are doing something to help someone else in need.”

For more information about the programs available at Neighbor to Neighbor, visit or

Jubilarians honored for 450 years of love and service

June 26, 2017 by  

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Family, friends and Sisters of St. Joseph packed the Nazareth Motherhouse’s chapel on June 11, as well as the dining hall at Mount Joseph Senior Village in Concordia on June 25, to celebrate “jubilees” for seven women of grace; sisters of St. Joseph who are celebrating the year of the anniversary of their entrance into the congregation as novices.

Together, the seven Jubilarians represented 450 years of love and service to God and the dear neighbor, fully demonstrating the theme of this year’s celebration, “All is Grace.”

The celebration began with a special Mass at 10:30 a.m. Jun 11, followed by an afternoon jubilee program at the Nazareth Motherhouse. A separate celebration followed on June 25 at Mount Joseph Senior Village, in Concordia, where Jubilarian Sister Margaret Rourke resides.

The Jubilarians honored with a special Mass and tribute program were:

Sister Vivian

      Sister Vivian Boucher, originally from Zurich, Kan., celebrated her 70th anniversary as a Sister of St. Joseph. She said that religious life has always been her first priority, with Catholic education her second. With a bachelor’s degree in math from Marymount College and a master’s in administration from College of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn., she has spent her entire career in education. Today, she continues to be a substitute teacher and volunteer at St. Columbkille Catholic School. Sister Rita Ann Mazanec presented her tribute, where she shared that one of Sister Vivian’s lesser-known talents was that she could fix anything electrical and that cars were her favorite toys.

Sister Christella

Sister Christella Buser, from Seneca, Kan., celebrated her 70th jubilee. She said her whole life “has just been pure gift.” After many years in music education at Tipton and Concordia, Kan., she served as president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia from 1965 to 1975. She was the Brazilian Mission Coordinator for the congregation before establishing the L’Arche Community in Overland Park, Kan. A published author, she continues to work in a variety of ministries based at the Motherhouse. Sister Norma Schlick presented her tribute, noting in particular her most famous literary work, “Flower from the Ark.”

Sister Gerrie

Sister Geraldine “Gerrie” Kokenge, of Seneca, Kan., also celebrated her 70th jubilee. Sister Gerrie said her main ministry in the community has been in the kitchens of many missions and places. One of her last missions as a cook was at the Salina Public High School, where she became good friends with many of those working with her. She is retired and living at the Nazareth Motherhouse. Sister Anna Marie Broxterman presented her tribute where she described one of Sister Gerrie’s talents as “being able to create aromatic and tasty works of art.”

Sister Margaret

Sister Margaret Rourke, originally from Brownell, Kan., celebrated her 70th jubilee at Mount Joseph Senior Village surrounded by many members of her large family. Her joyful, apostolic spirit was been evident throughout her life as a teacher, principal, a pastoral minister in a variety of parishes and as Mission Coordinator promoting the mission in Brazil. Her creative energy and zeal kept her on the road until she retired. Sister Chris Meyer presented her tribute at the Motherhouse celebration and Sister Marilyn Wall presented a reflection on her life at the Mount Joseph gathering. Sister Chris noted that she loved her work as Mission Coordinator and she loved to travel.

Sister Mary

Sister Mary Savoie, of Rudyard, Mich., celebrated her 70th jubilee. She said that, “I know myself most alive in fulfilling the mission and purpose of the congregation when I am involved in bringing people together for collaborative and participative praying, sharing, planning and implementing services for struggling individuals and families.” During the middle years of her life she connected with ministering among Sisters in Eastern Europe, following their 45 years of communist oppression. She served as president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia from 1983-87. Today, she ministers in Belleville, Kan., working with Republic County Health Department on the Chronic Disease Risk Reduction program and serving on the Republic County Ministerial Association and as hospice chaplain. Sister Margaret Nacke presented her tribute where she shared that, “Mary has a skill and passion for doing research that has does good for people.”

Sister Christine

Sister Christine Doman (Jan. 9, 1938 – March 17, 2017), of Grand Island, Neb., was celebrating her 60th jubilee year when she passed away in March. She ministered as an educator for many years, including as Principal of Sacred Heart High School, in Salina. She was President of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia from 1995-1999. She then returned to her calling as a teacher, before managing the Sisters’ hospitality house in El Paso, Texas from 2008-2013. She retired from active ministry in 2014. Sister Polly Kukula presented her tribute, noting that “She left before our party got started.” She likened her to a kaleidoscope with many varied gems.

Sister Janet

Sister Janet Lander was born in Santa Monica, Calif., and spent her childhood in Reseda, Calif. She is celebrating her 40th jubilee after being received into the congregation of Sisters of St. Louis before transferring her vows to Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia in 2006. With a bachelor and master’s degree in education and a master’s in pastoral ministry and post-master’s certificate in the practice of spirituality, she has spent many years as an educator and serving in campus ministry, as well as 5 years as a missionary in Brazil. She because a staff member of Manna House of Prayer in 2003, giving spiritual direction, guiding retreats, teaching candidates, serving as co-director of the Associate program and doing committee work and still serves there today as well as serving on the Congregational Leadership Council. Sister Marcia Allen presented her tribute, laughing as she wondered why anyone would want to come to Kansas from California. Her skills in Portuguese were noted as one of the many assets she has brought to the community.

Celebrants for the special Jubilee Mass were Father Kevin Cullen, S.J., of St. Louis, Mo., Father Xavier Nacke, OSB, of Conception Seminary, and Father James Hoover, the Motherhouse chaplain.

Sister Missy Ljungdahl emceed the June 11 Jubilee program, with music provided by Sisters Dian Hall and Teresa Hernandez.

In addition to the special Mass and tribute program, the day also included a celebration dinner for sisters, family and friends at the Nazareth Motherhouse. The meal was prepared and served by the Motherhouse dietary staff. The celebration at Mount Joseph featured decorated cakes and punch, as well as an open microphone session for family and friends to share their memories about Sister Margaret.

Sisters of St. Joseph celebrate as three new Sisters take vows

June 15, 2017 by  

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On Saturday, June 10, three women professed vows at a special Profession Mass at 10:30 a.m. in a crowded Sacred Heart Chapel at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia.
Sister Dian Hall of Cartersville, Ga., professed her final vows as a canonical Sister of St. Joseph, while D.J. Rak, of Junction City, Kan., and Mary Jo Sullivan, of Norman, Okla., professed their vows as agrégée sisters. The theme of the Eucharistic Celebration of Profession was “Summoned to Love.”

The mass was presided over by Father Juan Anzora, of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, in Cartersville, Ga., and Deacon Ed Souza, of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Junction City, Kan.

Sister Dian Hall

Sister Dian Hall was born and raised in Cedartown, Ga., and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of West Georgia. By the early 1990s she was teaching in a migrant education program in Cartersville, Ga.

Sister Dian Hall

It was during that time that she stepped in to help raise one of her teenage students when the girl’s parents were killed. When Juana — now 34 — was in her 20s, she and Hall decided they wanted to “formalize” the family feeling they had had for years, so Hall adopted her. Juana is now a married mother of three sons, and lives in Cartersville.

That’s where Hall was living and working in 1994, when she met three Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia who live in the Greater Atlanta area. That began a “conversation” with sisters that continued until November 2009 when Hall came to Concordia and was received as a candidate for agrégée membership. She spent two and a half years studying and praying with her mentors in Georgia — Sisters Jodi Creten and Helen Mick — before realizing that she was being called to canonical membership. She became a canonical novice in June 2012, and professed her first vows during a special ceremony at the Motherhouse on June 7, 2014. She returned to Georgia to continue in the work she did before coming to Concordia, as a special education inclusion teacher for the Cartersville schools.

Father Juan Anzora from her parish made a special trip to preside over her vows.

“God’s continued faithfulness leads me to this time, this place and this commitment. Your prayers, your love and your constant support, my family, friends, and Sisters bring me joy and much happiness,” Sister Dian Hall said. “My gratitude is overflowing to each and every one of you. Thank you for walking on this amazing journey beside me.”

Sister D.J. Rak

Sister D.J. Rak

Sister D.J. Rak is a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Junction City, Kan., where she is president of the St. Mary’s Cemetery Association. She is a retired Army Nurse and Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner. She has spent 10 years working as a contractor at Fort Riley as part of the Global War on Terrorism.

While she was very active in her church, she read an article about agrégée sisters in her diocesan newspaper. “I felt like I think this much about religion life, I need to check this out,” she said. “I called Sister Mary Lou Roberts.”

That phone call turned into a two-hour meeting for lunch until the place closed down, followed by two more hours of discussion at her house, followed by attending her first assembly. A total hip replacement in November of 2014 caused her to miss her first classes toward her vows, but Sister Jean Befort worked with her to get her caught up.

“I am so rich in treasure to have you all in my life. You have blessed me with your prayers and support throughout my journey to the profession of my vow,” Sister D.J. Rak said. “Thank you for being my faithful friends and also my true family.”

Deacon Ed Souza, of St. Francis Xavier Parish, traveled to Concordia to preside over her vows.

Sister D.J. Rak’s current plans are to stay in Junction City where she ministers to the homebound and those in nursing homes in Junction City and sometimes Wakefield. She has goals of starting a small parish nursing group.

Sister Mary Jo Sullivan

Sister Mary Jo Sullivan

Sister Mary Jo Sullivan, of Norman, Okla., is originally from Herington, Kan. One of her earliest impressions of the sisters is of being 4 years old and seeing Sister Noella “killing a giant bullsnake that was going to eat me.”

“I was 4, and I snuck to the park. My brother was in parochial school,” she said. “There was a snake in the grass and Sister Noella grabbed a bat and saved me.”

While she said she always felt an undeniable pull to religious life, “life just happened.” But, “As long as I can remember, all roads pulled me back to Concordia,” she said.

She recalls Sister Marcia Allen finally asking her, “Is it time to stop resisting?”

“So, Sister Marcia Allen asked the right question,” Sullivan said. “It’s been an amazing journey and I’m very grateful.”

Sister Sullivan said she looks forward to carrying the charism of the Sisters forward into her working ministry. “It allows me to add vocabulary and have support.”

“The gratitude that I feel today is overwhelming, as each of you, in your own way, has walked this path with me,” she said. “Thank you to my friends and family for your encouragement and to each of the members of this congregation for your spirit, your enthusiasm and your example. May love and laughter light your days.”

 “Canonically vowed sisters” profess the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, as defined by canon — or Church — law. As part of the vow of poverty, an individual sister relinquishes all personal wealth and income; at the same time, the congregation assumes responsibility for her economic well being for the rest of her life.
“Agrégée sisters” profess a vow of fidelity to the congregation, but it is noncanonical, meaning that it is not governed by Church law and is instead a private vow between that sister and the Concordia congregation. It also means that the agrégée does not relinquish her finances to the congregation, and the congregation assumes no financial responsibility for her.

Women interested in either form of membership begin their candidacy with about two years of discernment and study. At the end of that time, those who feel called to canonically-vowed religious life will enter a “novitiate,” when they leave their previous life and live as part of the sisters’ community but have not yet taken up their works as a Sister of St. Joseph. For a woman who feels called to agrégée membership, there is also a third year of study and preparation, but they do not leave behind their outside lives. Instead, they meet with mentors and study around their regular work and life schedules. And once they have professed their vows, they continue in that work and life schedule.

In the past decade, nearly 20 women have come to the congregation, most as candidates for Agrégée membership and two as canonical sisters.

The Profession Mass coincided with the Sisters’ Spring Assembly, Weekend of Exploration and annual Jubilee celebration from June 7 to 11 at the Nazareth Motherhouse.

Orphan Train statues unveiled at Nazareth Motherhouse

June 8, 2017 by  

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A crowd of about 100 people gathered Thursday afternoon in front of the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia, all eager to see the latest Orphan Train Rider statues to be unveiled by the National Orphan Train Complex. The statues are the 11th and 12th statues revealed as part of their ongoing project to match businesses in Concordia with a bronze statue that pays tribute to an Orphan Train Rider.

The crowd, the largest ever present for an unveiling so far, according to Shaley George, curator of the National Orphan Train Complex, was eager to see the bronze depictions of Sisters Eva Marie Vale and Roberta Dreiling.

The statues come from the Randolph Rose Collection in Yonkers, New York, a family-owned and operated company that specializes in handmade bronze garden sculpture, statues, fountains and accessories for home, garden and public spaces.

Sister Genevieve Dreiling

Genevieve Dreiling — who would take the religious name of Sister Roberta — was born in New York in 1899. She was just over 2 years old when she was put on a train west. When she arrived in Victoria, Kan., she was adopted by a Catholic family there.

In 1917, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph and served in numerous missions until her death in 1995.

Gertrude Vale — who would take the religious name of Sister Eva Marie — was born in 1900. She was barely over a year old when she was sent to a family in Schoenchen, Kan.

She remained with that family until she was 9, when they decided to return her to the orphanage in New York.

But a priest in Tipton, Kan., stepped in and asked his housekeeper to care for the girl. A year later, the housekeeper’s sister, who lived in Walker, Kan., adopted Gertrude into their family. She remained there until she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1921. Sister Eva Marie died at the Motherhouse in 1982.

When the Orphan Train Movement began in 1854, it was estimated that 30,000 abandoned children were living on the streets of New York City. By the time the last Orphan Train delivered its cargo to waiting families in 1929, an estimated 250,000 orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children had been placed throughout the United States and Canada.

Sister Eva Marie Vale

Concordia has been home to the National Orphan Train Museum for about a decade, and in January 2017 proclaimed itself Orphan Train Town.

Currently, there have been approximately 30 statues purchased as part of the project.

The other statues that have already been installed in Concordia are:
– Miriam Zitur at the Broadway Plaza;
– Elmer and Ethel Barney at Britt’s Fountain and Gifts;
– Teresa Martin at the Frank Carlson Library;
– The Fallen Soldier Memorial at the Concordia American Legion;
– Hallie Garwood at the Cloud County Historical Society Museum;
– Kansas Riders Statue at Brown Business Services;
– Roberta “Happy” Slifer at Cloudville in the Concordia City Park.
– Father Paul Fangman at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Concordia
– Victor & Stanley Cornell Deger at CloudCorp
– Thelma Taylor at Monique & Co. Salon & Day Spa

Artwork by Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia to be featured during First Friday at the Flower Nook

June 1, 2017 by  

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Art and handmade crafts made by Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia will be on display June and July at The Flower Nook in Salina. The exhibition is a part of “First Fridays” organized by Salina Arts & Humanities.
First Fridays, held on the first Friday of each month, include visual, music and other arts performances scheduled at local downtown businesses and other sites. This programming was formerly known as First Thursday Art Rush. It has been rolled into Friday Night Live.

Several of the Sisters will be on hand to meet people and talk about their creative blessings for the First Friday events in June and July. The first event will be from 4 to 7 p.m. this Friday, June 2. The second event will be from 4 to 7 p.m. July 7. The Flower Nook is located at 208 E. Iron, Salina.

The works will remain on display at the Flower Nook through July. Regular hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

For those who wish to avoid the drive, many additional artworks and crafts are on display at the Nazareth Gift Shop inside the Nazareth Convent in Concordia. For more information, call 785/243-2113, ext. 1101, or email

For a full schedule of artists and musicians to visit on First Friday, visit

Border Experience participants learn about life, culture and poverty at U.S./Mexico border

May 30, 2017 by  

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While dawn was breaking early on Friday, May 26, a group of Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia and their guests at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia, Kansas, had already been up and stirring, preparing to make what they expected be a life-changing run for the border. Nine women left that morning to take part in what’s called “A Border Experience” — a one-week expedition that fully immerses one into the life and culture on the U.S./Mexico border.

This group, which includes women from Iowa, Nebraska, Lawrence and Concordia, will see first-hand the struggles of immigrants as they visit shelters, missions, agencies and the cooperatives that serve them, Sister Anna Marie Broxterman said. They expect to return to Kansas on June 3.

The experience is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia as a part of their commitment to Gospel living and nonviolence, which includes standing in solidarity with undocumented immigrants.

Participants will be staying at the Sisters’ Grandview Convent in El Paso, Texas. Sisters Missy Ljungdahl and Donna Otter live there and will help organize the experience while in El Paso. Sisters Christina Brodie and Judy Stephens, of Concordia, will be staffing the experience as well.

Sister Judy said this is her fifth time participating in the Border Experience.

“Our purpose is more learning and consciousness raising,” she said. “We’ll spend time in the area that is about 15-20 miles into Mexico and the U.S. It’s a land all unto itself.”

The trip offers a wide variety of experiences, depending on each visit. On this current expedition, participants spent time with Father Peter Hindes, 93, a Carmelite, and Sister Betty Campbell RSM in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Sister Christina Brodie said. Both have ministered extensively south of the border and were able to share their insights on immigration, poverty and injustice in the area. Another stop included the Centro Santa Catalina Women’s Cooperative.

The cooperative is a sewing co-op created to help poor women in Juarez to be able to support their children. It was started by two Adrian Dominican nuns in 1996, Sister Judy said. Their hand-sewn products are sold in the U.S. with the money raised being shared equally among all the women in the co-op. Most live in handmade shacks, mostly made out of cinder blocks, on the city’s former garbage dump. The cooperative is the only source of funds for these women.

The Sisters of St. Joseph have been offering some sort of Border Experience since 1996, said Sister Anna Marie Broxterman.

“The trip is for experience and education,” Sister Anna Marie said. “Not for service. The trip is a truly communal experience with participants joining in cooking for the group, prayer and nightly sharing and reflection on the events of the day.

A second Border Experience is planned for June 30 through July 8. Space is limited. Applicants will be honored on a first come, first served basis.

The cost to participants is $300 per person. Sisters of St. Joseph cover the additional expense. Also, participants will be responsible for purchasing their own food as they travel to and from El Paso.

The Border Experience is organized by members of the Sisters of St. Joseph Immigration Committee: Sisters Anna Marie Broxterman, Dian Hall, Judy Stephens, Christina Brodie, Marilyn Wall and Janet LeDuc.

For more information on applying for the upcoming Border Experience on June 30, visit, or contact Sister Judy Stephens for more information: (785) 243-2149 or

Photos taken in Texas courtesy of Sister Christina Brodie (with more to come)

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