Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller

(Published March 6, 2009)

As I look at my life’s amazing journey, I know that God has had His hand in all of this.

My parents Barbara and Sebastian and my older sister Anna were all born in Hungary. As communism took over there, they realized the must go to Germany. En route, I was born in a boxcar in Wittmallsdorf, Austria. We stayed in Austria for just a few days before resuming our trip.

We were in Germany for about five years until, through the help of Catholic Relief Services, we came to the United States where a family in Indianapolis, Ind., sponsored us. I often think of my mom and dad and the two of us girls coming to a strange country not knowing a word of English. We had no money, but what a faith and trust in God my parents must have had.

As I was growing up in Aurora, Ill., my younger sister Linda was born.  The Sisters of St. Joseph taught us at Sacred Heart Grade School.  The joy among those sisters attracted me to think about religious life, and the sisters became part of our extended family and attended many of our family celebrations.

I found myself journeying again in 1964 on a train to Kansas, to join the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

My ministries over the years have included teaching music in Fairbury, Neb.; serving as Religious Education Coordinator at Seven Dolors Parish in Manhattan and St. Mary’s in Salina; working as part of a Team Ministry in Western Kansas; and now serving as diocesan Director of Youth Ministry and Religious Education.

This is my 26th year serving with the diocese and it has been a blessing and gift to me to travel with our youth in their spiritual journey, as well as with the Religious Education Coordinators who serve our parishes. I always tell Bishop Paul Coakley, “I have the best job in the diocese.”

As I observe our youth, I know that our church is truly alive and well. In April, we will have our annual CYO Convention where up to 800 youth and adults will gather in Salina to hear singer/songwriter Jesse Manibusan along with James Newman, a Kansas State University senior who was active in Catholic youth activities while at Hoxie High School, share with us what it means to “Believe, Pray, Share and Lead.” Then, in November, some 1,100 youth and adults will journey from our diocese to Kansas City for the National Catholic Youth Conference.

I ask you to support and share your faith story with our youth in your parishes. Let’s share with them the gift and treasures of our faith for they will be the ones who will share with the next generation.