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.

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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.

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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.

Center receives Blosser grant to help with renovation

March 14, 2011 by  

The sisters who operate Neighbor to Neighbor accept a check from Bob Steimel of the Community Foundation for Cloud County. With Steimel are, from left, Sister Jean Befort, Sister Ramona Medina and Sister Pat McLennon.

Sister Jean Rosemarynoski, left, reads over the grant agreement Friday afternoon as Bob Steimel explains the details.

The Charles H. and Isabell Blosser Foundation of Concordia has awarded a $8,357 grant to Neighbor to Neighbor to add awnings to the front of the building and repair its back wall.

Bob Steimel, representing the Community Foundation for Cloud County which administers the Blosser Foundation grants, presented the check on Friday afternoon to the sisters who operate the downtown women’s center.

In December, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia began a renovation project at Neighbor to Neighbor that will double its size by turning the second floor of the 122-year-old building at 103 W. Sixth St. into usable space. Employees of the sisters have been at work all winter and hope to have the project finished this spring.

When construction began, so did a fundraising campaign to pay for the renovation. Neighbor to Neighbor has received grants from the Sunflower Foundation, Kansas Health Foundation, Catholic Charities, Orscheln Foundation and the Community Foundation for Cloud County. A special appeal letter for the renovation also went out, and it has generated more than $32,000.

But the awnings and repair work to the back wall were not covered by any of those funds. That’s why the Blosser Foundation grant was needed, according to Sister Jean Rosemarynoski, the congregation’s development director.

Sisters share ‘Light’ with employees

March 12, 2011 by  

The theme of the 11th annual Employees Retreat Day was “Come into the light,’ but the morning and afternoon sessions had completely different definitions of the word.

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In the morning Thursday (March 10), the 10 Nazareth Convent and Academy Corp. staff members taking part explored turning the light on themselves, as they leanrnd about the basics of personality types and how those impact relationships with others. That session was led by Sister Betty Suther.

In the afternoon, Sister Janet Lander used the word as part of lightheartedness, with games and activities designed both for fun and insight. Sister Liberata Pellerin also helped throughout the day.

The day at Manna House of Prayer in Concordia also included lunch, prizes and a chance for employees to get to know their colleagues better.

A second Retreat Day is scheduled for March 22.

Each year the sisters at Manna House offer a daylong retreat to all employees at the Motherhouse, Manna House and the CSJ Administrative Center, all in Concordia. It is a paid day for any of the nearly 70 NCAC employees who choose to take part.

Eulogy for Sister Agnes Dreher: Sept. 28, 1912-March 4, 2011

March 7, 2011 by  

March 6, 2011, at the Nazareth Motherhouse

Eulogist: Sister Christella Buser

Sister Agnes Dreher died March 4, 2011, at Mount Joseph Senior Village in Concordia.  She was 98 years old and a Sister of St. Joseph for 80 years.

She was born in Schoenchen, Kan., on Sept. 28, 1912, to John and Ann Elizabeth Beiker Dreher, the third of nine children, and was baptized Mary Agnes. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia on Sept. 18, 1929. On March 19, 1930, Agnes received the habit of the Sisters of St. Joseph and was given the name Sister Mary Olivia.  Later she changed back to her baptismal name Agnes. She pronounced first vows on March 19, 1932 and final vows on Aug. 15, 1935.

Sister Agnes was preceded in death by her parents, four brothers and three sisters.  She is survived by one brother, Melvin Dreher of Cedaredge, Colo., and numerous nephews, nieces, cousins and a host of friends.

A couple of years ago, Sister Agnes asked if I would give her eulogy when she died. I told her I would be honored. She stated, “I want it to be short.”

She pointed to a picture of the good shepherd on her bedroom wall and said, “This is my favorite picture.” Inserted in the picture frame was a holy card of Bishop Paul Coakley. She said, “He is our diocesan shepherd, he is kinda cute.”

Sister Agnes was an elementary teacher, housekeeper and nurse’s aide in Stafford Hall at the Motherhouse and Mount Joseph. Throughout her years of service she worked in institutions staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph  in the Kansas towns and cities of Plainville, Junction City, Abilene, St. Peter, Concordia, Tipton, Gorham, Aurora, Herington, Beloit, Pfeifer, Hays, Antonino, Russell and Salina, as well as St. George, Ill., Gladstone, Mich., Silver City, N.M., and Fairbury, Neb.  In 2004 she moved to the Motherhouse and in 2010 she moved to Mount Joseph.

Sister Agnes said, “My father was a big farmer and a good provider. My mother had a large garden and did a lot of canning and our cellar was filled with good food that she always shared. She was also a great seamstress and would help anyone make clothes.”

She talked about being thankful to God for the many graces and blessings he had bestowed on her in her 80 years as a Sister of St. Joseph. Also, how deeply grateful she was to all the sisters for their love, prayers and support. May God bless you all.

We weep with joy as we remember the fullness of Sister Agnes’ life, and we weep with even greater joy that she can proclaim Mary Magdelene’s words, “I have seen the Lord.”

What joy must be hers!

• • • • • • • • •

If you’d like to make a memorial contribution in the name of Sister Agnes, you may do so through a secure server with PayPal. Simply click on the button below.

Marymount Theatre memories — now on CD!

February 28, 2011 by  

Deep in the corners of Dr. Dennis Denning’s basement, a bounty of Marymount Theatre photos had been stored.  Recently, all the photos were digitized and are now available for purchase.

A small group of theatre alum has done their best to identify the years which the shows were produced.  There are photos from 1971 (J.B. & Star Spangled Girl) to Marymount’s final year of 1988 (Cabaret/Brighton Beach Memoirs/Harvey). Sixteen shows from the mid-1970s have recently been added since the photos were first offered.

With proceeds from the sales of the photo CDs last year, a donation of $100 was made to the Sisters of St. Joseph.  The goal is to share the photos with MMC Theatre alum and support the Sisters, who provided us with such a wonderful facility and education.

CDs are $10 each and you can mix and match the shows you want.  The cost covers the discs plus shipping, with any remainder donated to the Sisters of St. Jospeh.

Contact: Barbara Evans Nichols (MMC ’85) at jcbekc@gmail.com


Superintendent: Community faces tough choices for schools

February 21, 2011 by  

Sister Marcia Allen, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, standing, welcomes a crowd of about 50 to the first talk in the 2011 Concordia Speakers Series at the Nazareth Motherhouse Monday evening.

Concordia Schools Superintendent Beverly Mortimer

Concordia Superintendent Beverly Mortimer, who wears a “no complaints” purple wristband, made it clear she was not whining about the challenges facing public schools in a talk Monday evening.

Instead, she told the crowd of about 50 for the first session of the 2011 Concordia Speakers Series at the Nazareth Motherhouse, “Our strength is our people — inside our buildings and outside in our community.”

Mortimer took nearly an hour to lay out both the strengths of strategic planning for the district and the challenges of dwindling budgets and legislative unknowns.

“People think I cry wolf when it comes to the budget,” said Mortimer, who has led Concordia’s USD 333 for eight years. “They asked me, ‘Where are the cuts?’ I’ve already cut the low-hanging fruit. Now we have to talk about the cuts none of us want to make.”

After her presentation, Superintendent Beverly Mortimer answers questions from the audience.

The first step in making those tough decisions, she said, is to follow the district’s strategic plan, which focuses on engaged learning, effective teaching and building trusting relationships. Those three priorities mean finding new and creative ways to help children learn, using technology to teach and learn more effectively and providing safe schools for students, staff and the community.

Meeting those goals is increasingly difficult, Mortimer said, when the state Legislature — responsible for paying for public schools — has defined its role as “funding a suitable education” for the state’s children.

“’Suitable’ is the key word there,” Mortimer said. “I don’t think what (legislators are) so much concerned with is what happens during class time; what they’re thinking about is extracurricular (activities) that can be eliminated. And that’s not just sports. It’s debate, the Scholar Bowl, cheerleading, 4-H…

“Those are the places where we as the community will have to make choices.”

And that’s already beginning, she noted.

The state bases its funding for education on a “per pupil” amount that’s multiplied by the number of full-time students in a district.

Audience members listen to a question asked during Monday evening's first talk in the 2011 Concordia Speakers Series.

For Concordia USD 333, the full-time enrollment is just over 1,100.

At the start of the 2008-09 school year, the per-pupil amount was $4,433 — but that was cut mid-year by the Legislature to $4,400. During last school year, the Legislature cut it again mid-year, to $4,218.

And it has already been cut once during this school year to $4,012 — while the governor’s not-yet-approved budget recommendation would cut it to $3,937 before the school year ends.

For this school year alone, that means a cut in state funding of $310,000. Plus, Mortimer noted, the district has learned that its health insurance premiums for employees will go up 15 percent this year.

“For us, that’s another $180,000. So with the cuts, if the governor’s budget is approved, we’ll have $500,000 less than we started with this year.”

The choice then comes down to increasing local taxes and fees or cutting the budget even more.

She ticked off some of the budget cuts that have already been made:

  • Selling the alternative high school building.
  • Reducing staff.
  • Shifting to a four-day workweek in the summer to reduce utilities.
  • Offering an early retirement incentive.
  • Reducing in-town bussing and eliminating activity bus routes.
  • Reducing summer school.
  • Eliminating the auto program at the high school.

In making those kinds of decisions, Mortimer said, she and the school board ask how the cuts affect the students, their families, school staff and the community.

As a part of the budget process this spring, she said she will ask taxpayers the same kinds of question in a “Survey of Patrons.”

“Basically, the survey will ask, ‘What is it that you can live without?’ she said.

After the survey is completed, Mortimer also plans to create a Patron Advisory Panel to help review the survey results and help in the tough decisions to come.

Having that kind of community involvement in the process is crucial, she said.

“I see myself as a steward of this district,” she told the crowd Monday evening. “It’s not mine, I am just the caretaker for you.”

Varied progress reports prove forum’s power

February 16, 2011 by  

Nearly 40 people spent an hour Wednesday reporting on programs and progress due at least in part to the “working lunches” that began two years ago.

At what was announced to be the 13th and  last working lunch of the Community Needs Forum, individuals and agency representatives took the microphone to update the group on events, fundraisers, projects and needs that continue in Concordia.

no images were found

• • • • • • • • •

Sister Betty Suther reported on the Community Garden of Hope, which is getting ready for its second growing season. The garden is working in a partnership with Concordia High School and has applied for a grant through the Kansas Green Schools program. The hope is to develop a composting program and then get students involved in growing produce under the direction of teacher Nathan Hamilton.

She also noted that all 26 plots in the garden have already been reserved for the season and there’s a waiting list.

Suther also reported on behalf of the Tourism and Convention Bureau, which is planning a major Concordia event as part of the 150th anniversary of Kansas’ statehood. Billed as “KS 150 QuiltFest,” the Oct. 7 and 8 affair will feature an exhibit of 150 quilts plus a dinner and quilt auction, with vendors and demonstrations at various locations in the city. The Nazareth Motherhouse will host the quilt exhibit and other details are still being worked out.

Sister Jean Rosemarynoski told the group about the Concordia Year of Peace, which in January began “Another Year of Peace.” T-shirts are available to support that effort (by calling Sister Julie Christensen at 785/243-4428), and Rosemarynoski said a new book available this spring will be a collection of the Year of Peace newspaper columns published from September 2009 through the end of 2010.

She also said the Year of Peace Committee is working to put together events for the National Night Out Against Crime, which is organized in communities across the country in August.

Sue Sutton said the Year of Peace Committee and Cloud County Community College have partnered to present a film series focusing on themes of civility and nonviolence. The next movie, which is open to the public without charge, is set for March 15 at 7 p.m. in Cook Theatre on the college campus. The movie to be shown that evening is “My Favorite Year,” a 1982 comedy about the early days of television.

Pat Gerhardt of the Kansas State University cooperative extension service showed off table tents and posters, made available through K-State, that emphasize a message of showing each other appreciation. “That’s a part of peace,” Gerhardt said. “When we appreciate each other, we are kinder to each other.”

Jennie Thrash gave an update on a new outreach program a small group of people have come together to create. Called “Our Father’s House,” it is seen as a way to help meet the needs of families in crisis or those who need mentoring and support. Its special emphasis would be on helping men, but it would serve the needs of the entire family, Thrash said.

Others at Wednesday’s meeting made pitches for upcoming fundraisers: The waffle breakfast this Saturday at the American Legion to support Lifeline, the Bowl for Kids Sake fundraiser supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cloud, Mitchell and Republic Counties, and the soup dinner at Concordia High School Monday evening to support the Honor Flight program that allows World War II veterans to visit Washington, D.C.

At the end of the reports, Sister Marcia Allen asked the question that had been in the air since the beginning of the lunch: What next?

The Sisters of St. Joseph have already announced the 2011 Concordia Speakers Series, which kicks off Monday evening at 7 with Superintendent Beverly Mortimer talking about the “Strengths and Challenges of Concordia’s Schools.” That presentation will be at the Nazareth Motherhouse in the auditorium and it is free and open to the public.

Allen, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph that has hosted the lunches at the Nazareth Motherhouse, said that in the 26 months since the meetings started in January 2009, a total of 125 different individuals have taken part. She said she sees the new speakers series as the “redirection” of the Community Needs Forum’s “working lunches.”

“This idea (for the speakers series) grew out of these meetings,” Allen told the group. “This is a way for leaders in the community to talk to people about the issues that are important to all of us.”

The group at Wednesday’s lunch seemed reluctant to give up the regular meetings, however.

“You heard all these reports,” participant Everett Ford said. “We’ve got something going on here and I’d hate to lose that.”

A number of people suggested quarterly or twice-yearly meetings instead of getting together every six to eight weeks. “I’ve very much appreciated the generosity of the sisters, hosting us and giving us lunch,” said Rose Koerber of the Cloud County Health Center. “But as much as that, these meetings have been about the networking and getting to know each other, and finding the ways we can work together.”

After the lunch Wednesday, Allen said she would work out a schedule of quarterly meetings and get those dates out to the public as soon as possible.

It’s a rap: Employees honored for service

February 15, 2011 by  

Rose Tremblay

Loleda Monty

Employees were recognized for five, 10, 15 and 20 years of service during “A Banquet of Gratitude” at the Sisters of St. Joseph Nazareth Motherhouse Tuesday evening.

The employees honored this year were:

For 20 years, Loleda Monty, who is a cook, and Rose Tremblay, a nursing assistant.

Donna Breault

Linda St. Pierre

For 15 years, Donna Breault, a nursing assistant

For 10 years, Karen Brown and Linda St. Pierre, who are both cooks.

For five years, Terri Headrick, who is a cook.

All of those honored live in Concordia.

Karen Brown

Terri Headrick

Each year the Sisters of St. Joseph host a special dinner for the nearly 70 employees who  work at the Motherhouse, the CSJ Administration Center and Manna House of Prayer. About 140 sisters and employees and their guests filled the Motherhouse Auditorium for the event Tuesday. The theme of the evening was “Love Changes Everything,” the title of a song by Andrew Lloyd Webber that was performed by Sister Regina Ann Brummel accompanied by pianist Sister Janis Wagner.

But that wasn’t the only music of the evening: The seven-member Leadership Council gave a somewhat ragged rendition of a rap blessing, written by Sister Jean Rosemarynoski to include the name of each employee.

The Sisters of St. Joseph is a religious order of women who came to Kansas in 1883 and established the Nazareth Convent and Academy in Concordia a year later. There are about 145 Sisters in the order, serving missions in more than 20 cities and towns in Kansas, plus others in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas. About half the sisters live and serve in Concordia.

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