Annual Mass honors sisters throughout diocese

May 9, 2011 by  

Sister Liberata Pellerin, center, and other Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia take part in the Salina Diocese's annual Mass of Appreciation for Women Religious on May 5 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

SALINA — Women religious who minister in the Diocese of Salina were thanked last week “for touching the lives of many people in a unique way.”

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Bishop Emeritus George Fitzsimons offered his appreciation to them on behalf of the diocese at the annual Mass and luncheon on May 5 at Sacred Heart Cathedral honoring women religious.
In addition to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia — the only congregation with its Motherhouse in the diocese — the other women religious recognized were the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of the Christ the King, of Mexico City, and the Sisters of St. Agnes, of Fond du Lac, Wis.
“You have been witnesses in so many ways for the good of the Church,” Bishop Fitzsimons said during his homily.
“Thanks to you for all that you do for the Church, for your lives, your commitment to prayer ministry, your examples,” he said. “We thank you for your service, your commitment and your prayer life.”

Seventeen priests in attendance, eight members of Serra Club and a dozen Chancery staff served lunch to 59 sisters in the Hall of Bishops. Women of the Cathedral parish prepared the meal. Serra Club’s primary role is to promote and support vocations to religious life and the priesthood.

Methodists volunteer as painting crew

April 30, 2011 by  

Volunteers from the First United Methodist Church in Concordia turned up, paint brushes in hand, this morning (April 30)  to help Neighbor to Neighbor with its next big project.

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The church members — Dallas Nading, Mike and Marsha Wentz, Harvey Olson and Mary Thoman — were there to paint the second-floor expansion of the women’s center in downtown Concordia. Joining them for the day was Sister Cecilia Green, who works at the Nazareth Motherhouse, and Sisters Jean Befort and Pat McLennon, two of the three women who run Neighbor to Neighbor.

This was the second time a volunteer crew from First United Methodist donated work at Neighbor to Neighbor. In October 2009, about 15 people from the church held a “demolition day” as part of the original renovation of the 122-year-old building on Sixth Street. After the renovation was completed, Neighbor to Neighbor opened in May 2010.

But within months it became clear that more space was needed for all the women and children who come to the center every day.

From Monday through Friday, Sisters Jean and Pat, along with Sister Ramona Medina, and a cadre of volunteers offer classes and services that range from one-on-one tutoring for GED exams and book studies to providing a place to do laundry or take showers and classes in sewing, baking, lacemaking and household budgeting. Individual counseling services are also available as needed, as is help in navigating the social services maze. And, for some moms, the center has become a place to go with their young children, to give the kids a chance to play and the moms a chance to befriend other moms.

There is never any cost to the women taking part; all the programs are offered free, with funding coming from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, a handful of grants and individual donations.

Planning began last fall to double the size of the center by renovating the second floor. Employees from the Motherhouse began work in December to create an art room, a private counseling or small meeting room, two more bathrooms, lots of storage space and a kitchenette that will look out over a large play area for children.

And once again, First United Methodist wanted to be part of the project.

A work day had been scheduled this winter for Methodist volunteers to help put insulation in the second-floor walls, but that project was canceled due to icy roads on the slated Saturday.

Instead, the volunteers waited for another opportunity to help — and they got it Saturday.

Curtis Mansfield, one of the Motherhouse maintenance employees who has been heavily involved in the renovation project, showed up early to make sure the volunteers had all the tools and supplies they needed. And Sister Jean worked downstairs in the kitchen to keep them supplied with coffee and snacks.

Greg Gallagher, facilities administrator for the Sisters of St. Joseph, expects the renovation to be completed later this spring.

The center remains open during the upstairs construction. The sounds of work on the second level sometimes competes with conversation on the main floor, but not enough to deter women from continuing to come to Neighbor to Neighbor.

The fund drive to pay for the renovation of the second floor is continuing as well. At $24.33 per square foot, donors may pay for the renovation of one foot, or 10 — or 100.

If you’d like to help support Neighbor to Neighbor or any of the sisters’ other ministries, you can make a donation through a secure server with Amazon Simple Pay, simply fill in the amount of your donation and then click on the Donate button:


Economic ‘cheerleader’ details local mission

April 25, 2011 by  

CloudCorp Inc. executive director Kirk Lowell discusses economic development Monday evening at the Motherhouse as the third presenter in the 2011 Concordia Speakers Series.

In just over an hour and a half Monday evening, Kirk Lowell proved that he is a storyteller, a country boy, a salesman, a realist — and a committed cheerleader for Concordia and Cloud County.

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The executive director of CloudCorp Inc., the economic development organization for Cloud County, was the third presenter in the 2011 Concordia Speakers Series hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph at the Nazareth Motherhouse. Nearly 60 people were in the audience as Lowell outlined the 55-year history of CloudCorp, its original and evolving mission and its role in today’s economy. And while he ran a bit over the advertised ending time, he kept the audience entertained with quips and stories to illustrate the serious topic.

“This is not a tea and crumpets organization,” he said of the 25-member CloudCorp board, noting that he’s heard complaints that board members serve too long and work too little. “We have a breadth of experience that’s important.”

Lowell — who started with CloudCorp as a volunteer in 1985 and has been executive director since 1993 — also countered complaints that the private organization has not changed with the times.

“The (original) 1956 board would not have worked on the Majestic Theatre project or the Walmart project or the fuel station in Aurora or Buy The Book,” he said. “They were all about industry.

“But you can’t chase the smokestack — and today most people don’t want the smokestack,” he added, referring to most heavy industry.

The organization was formed when the population of Cloud County had begun to decline, he pointed out, falling from a high near 20,000 to about 15,000 in 1956. “We went from a one word mission statement in 1956 — ‘Jobs’ — to a one-sentence mission statement and now a one-page mission statement.”

But even that one page can be summed up in just three action words, he said: facilitate, coordinate, communicate. “That’s what we do.”

One way of measuring success, Lowell noted, is the county’s ranking in the Kansas Inc. Economic Vitality and Distress Annual Report. Of the state’s 105 counties, Cloud had routinely been very near the bottom in overall rankings. As recently as 2007, Cloud County’s “economic vitality” was rated at 101st in the state. But the 2009 report — the most recent available — ranks the county at 73rd overall.

“And I think it’s going to get even better in spite of ourselves,” he added, “because there are some people who just won’t give up on Cloud County.”

In one exercise with the audience, however, Lowell demonstrated why some residents remain resistant to change and complacent about the economy.

Using a large graph showing population from the time the county was established in the 1860s, he asked each member of the audience to place a red dot on the year he or she had arrived in Cloud County. The county’s population had peaked in 1890 and has been on a slow but steady decline ever since, and all of the red dots were clustered on that downward slope.

“The Sisters of St. Joseph as an organization came here in the period of expansion,” he noted, “but individually we all came here in the period of decline. We’re comfortable with decline because that’s all we know.”

But continuing that trend is not inevitable, he argued. He cited what he called the law of successful economic development: “If your community does not take good care of its existing businesses and new business prospects, some other community will.”

Or, put another way, “The more backward one community thinks, the more another community cheers. There’s just no denying that.”

What’s required is thinking in terms of community development rather than the older ideas of industrial or purely economic development. And that requires effort at all levels and in all areas of the community, he said.


‘A Year of Peace’ columns now available as a book

April 19, 2011 by  

A new book brings together 65 columns published in the Concordia Blade-Empire as part of the Year of Peace that began in September 2009.

The book, titled “A Year of Peace in Concordia, Kansas,” is available for $2 a copy in the Nazareth Motherhouse Gift Shop and the Manna House of Prayer Gift Shop.

The columns were published every Friday from Sept. 25, 2009, through Dec. 31, 2010, and include works from Concordians of all ages – middle school students, social workers, Catholic sisters, foreign college students, teachers and even a public official or two.

The Blade-Empire donated the weekly space for the columns, and then joined the Community Foundation for Cloud County in making financial contributions toward the publishing cost. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia covered the remaining publication expense and donated the services of their Communications Office to coordinate and edit the weekly columns and then edit, design and lay out the book.

The Concordia Year of Peace project has been coordinated by a local committee, led by Sister Jean Rosemarynoski, and has included a film series at Cloud County Community College, book studies, workshops, the communitywide “Civility Pledge” and a variety of other activities.

In January 2011, the committee launched “Another Year of Peace,” which includes twice-monthly columns in the Blade-Empire and monthly discussions on KNCK radio. Other events are planned throughout the year.

April ‘Messenger’ available now

April 5, 2011 by  

The April 2011 issue of “The Messenger” goes in the mail today — but you can get a preview here. CLICK HERE for a downloadable PDF and read about two Brazilian sisters who have professed final vows, the renovation project at Neighbor to Neighbor, two new programs to bring more visitors to the Motherhouse and Manna House of Prayer and the big prize-winners at this year’s Spaghetti Dinner! There’s also a schedule of retreats, workshops and other events presented by the Sisters of St, Joseph.

And if you’d like to be added to the mailing list to receive the free quarterly newspaper, CLICK HERE to send us your name and mailing address.

There is no advertising in this publication, so all the printing and mailing costs are paid by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. Donations to help offset that expense are very much appreciated. Just fill in the amount below and click on the Donate button.


Four from Salina & Concordia join CSJ Associates

April 2, 2011 by  

In a simple ceremony at the Nazareth Motherhouse Saturday afternoon (April 2), three women and one man made commitments as Associates to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. At the same time, two new candidates to become CSJ Associates were welcomed by the community of sisters, and seven Associates renewed their commitments.

• • • • • • • •

Also on hand were five people called “inquirers,” who have formally expressed an interest in becoming a CSJ Associate and are in the first stage of the process.

The ceremony concluded the annual Associates Retreat held at Manna House of Prayer in Concordia.

The most touching moment of the afternoon was when Sister Ann Glatter read a letter to new Associate Jane Christensen of Concordia, from her daughter Sister Julie Christensen. Sister Julie was not able to attend the ceremony because of a conflict with her duties in Youth Ministry, but in her letter she said she was able to answer the call to religious life because of her mother’s deep spirituality and love of God.

The other new Associates are Myrna Shelton of Concordia and Bill and Susan Riordan of Salina. They bring the number of CSJ Associates to more than 30 in Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.

The new Associate Candidates are Catherine Seitz of Manhattan and Rosalita Flax of Ness City.

The Associates renewing their commitments were Sheryl Bahr of Rossville, Kan.; Karma Smith-Grindell of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Nancy Welsh of Topeka; and Carol Arts, Betty Bombardier, Rita Collette, Susan LeDuc, all of Concordia.

The inquirers were Annette and Tim Coonrod, Linda and LeRoy Splichal and Trudy Ringer, all of Belleville.

CSJ Associates are women and men who are committed to Gospel values, desire to deepen their spiritual lives, give themselves in service to the dear neighbor, are committed to building community and feel drawn by the charism, spirituality and mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph. They meet regularly for prayer and sharing either in groups or one-on-one, and often take part in the congregation’s events.

For more information, click on one of these links:
Why be an Associate?
The Associate life
The steps toward becoming a CSJ Associate

Or, read one of the stories written by these special people who already serve as CSJ Associates:
Dave and Jayme Schwantes
Ora Rede

For more information, contact one of these sisters or associates:
Sister Jean Befort at
OR Sister Janet Lander at
OR Associate Karma Smith-Grindell at
OR Associate Stephanie Hudson at

CEO outlines need for new hospital

March 28, 2011 by  

Cloud County Health Center CEO Jim Wahlmeier briefs the audience of about 70 people on the need for a new hospital as the second presentation in the 2011 Concordia Speakers Series.

Sister Beth Stover, longtime administrator of St. Joseph's Hospital when it was operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, asks a question during Wahlmeier's presentation Monday evening.

Cloud County Health Center CEO Jim Wahlmeier said asking for a property tax to help pay for a new hospital would “probably be the last resort.”

But, he told the audience at Monday evening’s 2011 Concordia Speakers Series presentation, there is no question that a new hospital is needed.

Noting that the current facility opened 60 years ago this month — in March 1951 — Wahlmeier said, “There’s a saying that if you have your health, you have everything. The same is true of a community.”

The Norton native and Navy veteran began his presentation at the Nazareth Motherhouse auditorium by ticking off statistics on services provided at the hospital in the past year:

  • 50 babies born
  • 800 admissions
  • 3,800 in-patient days
  • 500 surgeries
  • 3,800 emergency room visits
  • 18,000 clinic visits
  • 47,300 laboratory tests

He also briefly outlined the history of the hospital in Concordia.

The Sisters of St. Joseph opened St. Joseph’s Hospital on Fifth Street — in what is now Manna House of Prayer — in 1903, and then expanded it with St. Ann’s Home in 1916.

Four decades later, he said, “The sisters looked to the future” and began raising money for the hospital they would build on West 11th Street. When the new St. Joseph’s Hospital opened, the five-story, 150-bed facility had cost $1.75 million to build and an additional $250,000 to equip.

Ownership of the hospital eventually passed to what would become Salina Regional Medical Center, and then in 2002 it became an independent nonprofit hospital and was renamed Cloud County Health Center.

Today it has 172 employees and a payroll of more than $6 million.

After his talk, Jim Wahlmeier answered questions from the audience for nearly 45 minutes Monday evening.

But it remains a 60-year-old facility in an era when medical care — and patient expectations — have changed dramatically, Wahlmeier told the audience of nearly 70 people.

In 2007, the building costs for remodeling the old hospital were estimated at $16.3 million, while the construction expense for a new facility was expected to cost $17 million.

Added to that construction cost for a new hospital were the expenses of acquiring property, hiring architects and figuring in contingencies and debt service. Together, the total was almost $29 million when the hospital board put a general obligation bond before Cloud County taxpayers in November 2008.

Voters said no.

The new plan that Wahlmeier discussed Monday evening would cost about $20 million.

The federal government, through Medicare, would pay about  $11 million, or 55 percent, of that cost and the hospital itself would pay roughly $3 million from its equipment fund, so the shortfall is expected to be in the neighborhood of $6 million. Other grants and federal funds might be available to cover some of that cost, Wahlmeier said.

But before the final cost can be estimated, he added, the first step has to be acquiring the property for the new hospital.

The top site now being considered adjoins the airport property on the east side of Highway 81.

There are some conditions for use of that property, he noted, including coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration to upgrade the airport to accommodate more air traffic.

And, he said, “The (hospital) board has said we confirm that site by May or we start looking at another site.”

Other possible locations include land adjoining the current hospital property or sites south of Walmart and in the North Development area.

Once the site question is answered, the next step would be to hire an architect and finalize cost estimates.

If either a sales tax or property tax increase was required, “We’d let you know by August,” Wahlmeier said, so that the measure could be on the November ballot.

Wahlmeier was the second of eight scheduled presentations in the 2011 Concordia Speakers Series. Hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph, the talks are all free and the public is encouraged to attend.

The next speaker will be CloudCorp Inc. executive director Kirk Lowell talking about economic development in rural communities. That will be April 25 beginning at 7 p.m.

Overflow dinner crowd enjoys music, prizes, fellowship

March 27, 2011 by  

Nearly 500 friends, family, volunteers, supporters and neighbors packed the Motherhouse this afternoon for the Sisters of St. Joseph annual spaghetti dinner.

• • • •

Part of the attraction of the year’s biggest fundraiser was a chance to renew old friendships and spend time with the sisters at the Motherhouse. But an additional draw this year were drawings for five special prizes donated for the event.

JoAnn and Roger Long of New Amelo, Kan., won the $500 cash prize, while Don Van Roekel of Logan, Kan., won the full-size quilt handmade by Sister Betty Suther. The other winners were Peggy Thompson of Beloit (a 19-inch television), Paul Splichal of Munden (a $250 gift card to Rod’s Thriftway) and Dolores Aytes of Concordia (a portable DVD player).

There were also door prizes drawn throughout the afternoon for table runner sets made by the women at the Neighbor to Neighbor center in downtown Concordia, one of the newest sponsored ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph

About 60 Sisters of St. Joseph from throughout Kansas were on hand to greet the guests. They served as hostesses and servers throughout the dinner, plus offered a bake sale and led tours through the historic Nazareth Motherhouse.

The overflow crowd was treated to five performances of  live music, ranging from a classical guitarist to a clarinet quartet. Cloud County Community College band director Patrick Sieben helped arrange the performances and played saxophone as part of The Bent Wind Ensemble.

One unexpected part of the afternoon was a surprise birthday cake and song for Fernanda Mansilla, an international student from Chile and a member of the women’s basketball team at Cloud County Community College. She and several other team members came to the dinner as guests of Jim and Marilyn Douglass, who asked if the sisters could acknowledge Fernanda’s 20th birthday today.

This was the fourth year for the spaghetti dinner. Attendance last year was estimated at about 375, while this year 480 dinners were served.

Sister Loretta Jasper was instrumental in coordinating the dinner, which was organized by Sister Jean Rosemarynoski and the Development Office.

The proceeds from the dinner benefit the various ministries and programs of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

For another slideshow with another 20 photos from the dinner, CLICK HERE.

More photos from Sunday’s Spaghetti Dinner

March 27, 2011 by  

Here’s another slideshow capturing the annual Motherhouse Spaghetti Dinner.

Two Brazilian sisters profess final vows

March 21, 2011 by  

Sisters Fortunata Gomes de Oliveira, left, and Alexsandra da Silva pose for photos before their vow ceremony Saturday.

In a very impressive ceremony on St. Joseph’s Day Saturday, Sisters Maria Alexsandra da Silva and Maria Fortunata Gomes de Oliveira  pronounced perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

The parish of St Francis of Assisi in Picos, Brazil, has been a hub of activity preparing for this celebration.  Leadership was provided by  the sisters living in the parish, Sisters Nair de Sousa and Janira Lindoso Diniz. Sister Joseleide da Silva, who had lived in Picos these last few years and returned to help, and the family of Sister Alexsandra, who live in the parish, formed teams to coordinate the activity.

When the bus and vans arrived, the reception team received the guests and housed them with various families of friends and parishioners where they shared dinner and rested until the evening Mass.  A bus chartered from Teresina brought sisters, friends, pastor and parishioners from the parishes where Sister Alexsandra and other sisters live and work.  Friends from Graça Aranha, Maranhao, where Sister Fortunata lives and works, had arrived the day before and continued the journey to Picos  on the chartered bus as well as a sister and nephew of Sister Fortunata.  Religious from the Diocese of Picos as well as religious from São Domingos and São Luis- Maranhão were also present.

• • • • • • •

In the evening, everyone gathered at the parish church where they were joined by Bishop José Plinio of Picos; Father Flavio, pastor of the parish; Father Tiago, Redemptorist , representing the São José Operáio Parish where the Sisters of St. Joseph have their regional house in Teresina; and Father Antonio Barbosa, pastor of the Parish of Planalto Uraguai where the sisters have their initial formation house in Teresina.

The ceremony began with Sister Luciene Maria de Carvalho, commentator for the ceremony,  inviting all to participate in the singing of the hymn to St. Joseph while  the sisters  paid homage to their patron.  The sisters formed a guard of honor in the center aisle of the church where the postulants and aspirant of the congregation  entered carrying  a statue of St. Joseph.  Sisters Alexsandra, Fortunata and Donna Otter followed the youth and after receiving the image from them and presenting it to the assembly  placed it on its place of honor for the ceremony.

Youth from the St. Francis Parish led the music and all joyfully accompanied the singing.  Bishop Plinio spoke vividly of  St. Joseph´s life during his homily and challenged us to “sleep” as St. Joseph did before acting.  In other words, he spoke of the necessity of discernment in order to make wholesome decisions for the good of all.  Joseph at first thought only of himself but after thinking and listening, he took into consideration his loved one and the child she bore.

After pronouncing their final vows, Sisters Alexsandra and Fortunata received, with a renewed blessing, the symbols of the congregation, the ring and crucifix, from Sister Donna, the Mission Coordinator.

After the Eucharistic celebration, all were invited share supper. To God we give the glory, and to all we thank for making this day so memorable.

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