Motherhouse Gift Shop to Participate in “Deck the Halls”

November 29, 2022 by  

Concordia’s Tourism Partners are banding together to present “Deck the Halls” a holiday event of open houses on Saturday, December 3rd from 9am-12pm. This joint effort has been created to boost local attendance at all of Concordia’s tourism attractions, including: The Brown Grand Theatre, The National Orphan Train Complex, The Cloud County Historical Society Museum, POW Camp Concordia, The Nazareth Convent Gift Shop, Concordia’s Broadway Plaza, and Cloud County Tourism. Each venue will have a variety of refreshments, photo booths, door prizes, shopping, and tours. Everyone who visits even one attraction will be entered to win a $100 Chamber Bucks gift certificate that will be drawn for at the Cloud County Tourism Office the day of the event at 1:00pm (sponsored by the Concordia Chamber of Commerce). Each attraction may have additional ways to gain entries for the Chamber Bucks drawing!

New sisters find their new home

October 26, 2022 by  

When Father Barry Brinkman delivered the homily during a special Mass Oct. 16, he said there are many roads to religious profession. Some are paved and straight, with good lighting and accurate signs; they make for a quick trip. But others are graveled and rough, with sharp turns and twists and no signs at all to point you on your way; the difficulties often mean delays.

The two women sitting directly in front of Father Barry knew he was speaking to them. They had each taken the longer, more arduous road — and yet they had arrived, to profess their vows as the two newest Agrégée Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

Christine Carbotte and Connie Palacio each professed a vow of fidelity and commitment to “God, to the mission and to the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.”

The solemn ceremony was followed by a joyous response from the assembled sisters: A blessing and song welcoming them to the community.

Sister Christine Carbotte lives and serves in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and first met the Concordia sisters when she came here in 2015 as part of the novitiate program coordinated by the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, a cooperative organization of about 20 individual congregations.

When that nine-month program ended, Sister Christine returned to the Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada and in October 2015 professed her temporary vows as a canonical sister. For the next four years, she served at a St. Joseph retreat center in Cobourg, Ontario. But the work there led to some serious health issues, and at the end of 2019, she went back to Hamilton.

As she struggled with her health, she said she also struggled with her calling. “By January or February (of 2020), I realized, ‘I don’t think I can do this,’” she recalls. In deep discussion with her congregation’s leadership, she heard the message she needed:

“Sister Margo Ritchie, our president, said ‘You’re trying to put your foot in a shoe that doesn’t fit. There’s nothing wrong with your foot, or the shoe. It just doesn’t fit.’”

So she made the difficult decision to leave the community.

Covid lockdowns hit Ontario just as Christine began praying about where her path would take her. “The calling was still there, and the charism of the Sisters of St Joseph,” she says. “I needed to find a way of living it that was a better fit for me.”

That brought her back to thinking about Concordia, where she had heard about a new form of religious membership that the sisters had revitalized in 2006.

She got in touch with Sister Ann Ashwood, an agrégée who had served as program director here for the Federation novitiate, and those talks led to more discussion with the leadership here. Finally, in January 2021, Christine began the coursework required as an agrégée candidate. What is normally a three-year program was shortened to about a year and a half because of her background as a canonical sister.
It culminated Oct. 16 at the Motherhouse here.

“It’s been an interesting journey,” the 60-year-old said with a soft chuckle. “And now I go home.”

“Home” will again be Hamilton, where she volunteers with DeMazenod Door, a wide-ranging outreach program, and the Good Shepherd Brothers food bank. She also cares for her mother, who lives nearby.

Sister Connie Palacio of Anaheim, Calif., had retired as a teacher in 2010, and was staying busy with a long list of volunteer work connected to her church — various duties with St. Vincent de Paul, pastoral care at a St. Joseph hospital, prayer and meditation groups in her home parish…

But, she says, she was “looking for something away from home” when she found a Concordia, Kan., listing on the Catholic Network of Volunteer Services in 2014. So she came here and lived and worked at Manna House of Prayer for five months. The next summer she came back, this time as a volunteer at the Motherhouse. That stay lasted 16 months and she became a CSJ Associate while here.

Over the next few years she came back two more times, always with the focus, she says, of “What do you need me to do?”

Each time she went back to California, she sought out the feeling of community she’d found here — and then finally she realized, “I have a community, it’s just 1,500 miles away.”

So in October 2019, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia as a candidate.

Three years later — on Oct. 16, 2022 — when Sister Connie, now 70, professed her vow, her five siblings, her grown daughter and other family members were here to join her celebration. (She also has a grown son and two grandchildren.)

What will be different now, after the road from volunteer to CSJ Associate to candidate to agrégée sister?

“Honestly, nothing,” she says after a slight pause. “Maybe I’m more a part of the community. But I already felt that.

“When I come here, I feel like I’m coming home.”

VATICAN II: Reflecting on the Council’s 60th anniversary

October 26, 2022 by  

By Catherine Michaud, CSJ, Ph.D.

For a printable PDF of this reflection which will download to your desktop, CLICK HERE. Note: It’s 13 pages, complete with footnotes.

In a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 11 celebrating the 60th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, Pope Francis said the Council was “one great response” to the question “Do you love me?” posed by Christ to his disciples.

“To rekindle her love for the Lord, the church, for the first time in her history, devoted a council to examining herself and reflecting on her nature and mission,” the pope said. “She saw herself once more as a mystery of grace generated by love; she saw herself anew as the people of God, the body of Christ, the living temple of the Holy Spirit!”[1] He exclaimed, “If [the Church] should fail to rejoice, she would deny her very self, for she would forget the love that begot her.”[2]

Pope St. John XXIII inaugurated Vatican Council II with a unique purpose among all 21 ecumenical councils: To address concerns for the “soul” of the Church, rescuing it from its medieval past and planting it in the modern world — using the Italian word aggiornamento. He made it clear that this Council was not needed to address doctrinal matters as the other councils had; rather, it would be a “pastoral council.” The substance of its seminal teachings is the nature of the Church itself. Vatican Council I had intended to define the nature of the Church, but its work was interrupted by the Franco Prussian War in 1870. Vatican II would complete that work.

As we begin the celebration of the Council’s 60th anniversary, I experience both gratitude and a little regret — that my mother who loved “Good Pope John” and rejoiced in the work of the Council did not live long enough to help celebrate this very special anniversary in which we are seeing at last the prophecy of Pope John becoming reality; and gratitude that I am living long enough to celebrate this.

In the 1990s my doctoral work led me on a challenging odyssey through the Council Proceedings and each of the Documents to ascertain whether the Council had authentically committed itself to following the Holy Spirit at the bidding of Pope John, to truly experiencing the radical transformation through the New Pentecost that he announced. I learned about the conversations among the Roman Catholic theologians at the Council and theologians from the other churches, especially the Eastern churches who were astounded that we “Westerners” would attempt to produce documents on the nature of the Church without a developed theology of the Holy Spirit, known as pneumatology. For, it is the Spirit who conceived the Church. These conversations demonstrated the value and transforming nature of ecumenical councils where the Spirit speaks through the whole Body of Christ!

My doctoral dissertation, Pneumatology in Vatican II: Forward Steps and Open Questions, laid out the evidence of movement in the Council’s thought compared with previous councils and to the initial work of the Council’s Preparatory Commissions and committees away from “a nontemporal, static, and very juridical view” of the Church toward “a historical, dynamic and sacramental view, one progressively more open to the contribution of pneumatology.”[3]

My dissertation closes with this statement:

The pneumatology of the Council is the outstanding feature of this ecclesial process, both in theory and in praxis. It is not fully formed nor perfectly balanced, but it is a vital component of the Council’s theological achievement. (243)

Since I wrote those words, I have been waiting … waiting … for what I saw as the most significant grace of the Council to be received and become a concrete reality. The Church has awaited enactment of the structure needed to facilitate the Spirit speaking through the Body of Christ to the Church and the world: The synod.

Five and half years after Pope Francis delivered “what can be called his magna carta on synodality” to the Synod of Bishops in 2015, his persistent push for a synodal Church is having effects. All over the Catholic world, synods are now being prepared and the Spirit shared through them is bringing Catholic communities to life.[4] As the Council envisioned: “All the faithful, scattered though they be throughout the world, are in communion with each other in the Holy Spirit” (Lumen gentium 13). The means for this communion is the synod process.

When Vatican Council II took up the tasks of aggiornamento and completing the work of Vatican I, it became arguably the most important event in Christianity since the Protestant Reformation. This Council consigned the most important work of the Church in modern history to all of us, its baptized members. Our first task is the critical work of “reception” of the Council’s spirit and teachings. Tragically, until now most Catholics have only the barest knowledge of the Council, and sometimes what they have come to believe is distorted.

How can the People of God “receive” what they do not know?

Reading, discussing, and meditating on the Council documents is critical to understanding and implementing its teachings. Four things, I suggest, that might to help us in this work as we celebrate the Council’s 60th anniversary are an understanding of (1) how the Council addressed the “soul” of the Church — its spiritual life, rather than its administrative needs;

(2) the melding of motives among the majority voices in the Council where the spirit of the Council still speaks;

(3) the lingering effects of the minority voices in the Council who feared losing the Church’s “tradition;” and

(4) the events since the Council’s 50th anniversary affecting the reception of Vatican Council II now.


(1) The Council and the “soul” of the Church

Pope St. John XXIII sensed a sickness in Body of Christ: the soul of the Church was separating from the Body. Some 400 years had passed since the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the last complete ecumenical council. On the strength of that Council, Roman Catholicism had recuperated from the Reformation, reformed the seminaries, and, among other things, ensured that no more scandalous candidates inhabited the papacy. Despite these important accomplishments, and maybe because of them, the Church grew distant from the world that it is intended to serve. It remained unchanged, a medieval institution that year by year became more threatened by the modern world. Pope John prescribed the remedy of aggiornamento — a transfusion of life by way of a New Pentecost, new life breathed into the soul and Body of the Church. He knew that the treatment had to be bold and thorough. And so he convened the Church’s first Pastoral Council.

Karl Rahner (one of the leading theologians at the Council) remarked that Vatican II, “in all of its sixteen [documents] constitutions, decrees, and declarations was concerned with the Church.” … The various conciliar documents were [composed] by distinct commissions, working at different rhythms, in the face of different problems and for different purposes, a lack of coordination and of systematic interest that was not entirely offset by the fact that on many of them the same experts played major roles (I think in particular of Msgr. Gérard Philips and of Fr. Yves Congar). Thus, for example, the Constitution on the Liturgy was completed before the Constitution on the Church and the latter before the Constitutions on Divine Revelation and on the Church in the Modern World.[5]

Moreover, ecclesiologist Joseph Komonchak explains that on several points, “the Council deliberately chose not to settle important issues” but instead to state their terms as best they could and then leave them for “future inspiration” when theologians and others could work out more coherent articulations than was possible at the time. These choices reveal the Council’s commitment to be led by the Holy Spirit rather than attempt to “lead the Spirit.”[6]

Komonchak also calls attention to the Council’s distinctive rhetorical style — as somewhat wide-ranging, meditative, and evocative than the more propositional language and argument or apologetic style of earlier councils.[7] The Council’s The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium), for example, often speaking to the heart, opens with the declaration that “Christ is the Light of nations. Because this is so, this Sacred Synod gathered together in the Holy Spirit eagerly desires, by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature, to bring the light of Christ to all … a light brightly visible on the countenance of the Church.”

Before Vatican II, the Church’s understanding of itself held that “the Spirit of God was the soul of the Church,” and that the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit were mediated by the ordained Hierarchy who carried out its functions legally, through Church laws and rules. The baptized members did not see themselves as Christ’s Body; they knew the Holy Spirit, for example, through a sprinkling at baptism and an anointing at confirmation. The “soul” of the Church that resides in the hearts of the baptized faithful expressing itself in the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit was barely discernible. The People of God, for the most part, were silent, passive, meekly obedient, or absent. The graces of the Holy Spirit parsed out through the Hierarchy within the juridical, institution model of Church moved the compassionate heart of Pope John XXIII to bold action. He viewed the baptized faithful as the disciples of Christ commissioned to bring about the Reign of God. In the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem) the Council states:

Through this holy synod, the Lord renews His invitation to all the laity to come closer to Him every day, recognizing that what is His is also their own (Phil. 2:5), to associate themselves with Him in His saving mission. Once again He sends them into every town and place where He will come (cf. Luke 10:1) so that they may show that they are co-workers in the various forms and modes of the one apostolate of the Church, which must be constantly adapted to the new needs of our times… . they know that their labor in Him is not in vain (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58) (AA 33).

For the Christian vocation by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate. No part of the structure of a living body is merely passive but has a share in the functions as well as life of the body: so, too, in the body of Christ, which is the Church, “the whole body … in keeping with the proper activity of each part, derives its increase from its own internal development” (Eph. 4:16). (AA 2)

The Church revitalized by Vatican II knows itself as the Body of Christ, which like Christ himself, is by nature both human and divine. The Church, a “mystery,” a sacrament, that makes the invisible Christ present on earth is also the “People of God” carrying on Christ’s earthly mission humanly. Comprised of the baptized members, especially the laity, each is anointed to complete Christ’s mission to bring about God’s Reign.

(2) Majority voices


The majority voices in the Council melded their motives together to create a force like a powerful wind that could move an enormous old ship onto a reverse course. Perhaps originating with Pope John himself, that melding aroused the Council members to take concerted, quite courageous action toward a shared goal. It surmounted obstacles such as theological, pastoral, ecclesial differences (fights!) among the members. These “motivations” solidified into some specific points that now define the Vatican II Church. For example, in the efforts made during the Council to achieve unanimity and express the consensus of the whole voting body; in the bishops’ struggle to harmonize the differing views and to listen carefully to the minority voices — to the extent of adopting deliberate ambiguities. Walter Kasper reflects on the example of the Council’s unified motivation as the willingness to wait upon the Spirit for a fuller agreement, an attitude revealing, in part, the majority voices in the Council:

The Council didn’t want any newly “enlightened” Church; it wanted a church spiritually renewed through the Spirit of the Gospel on the way to both personal sanctification and (institutional) reform. The Council at no point left behind the traditional teaching on the Church; rather it placed it in a pastoral horizon, which means (as still needs to be shown) in a trinitarian horizon of understanding; it has indicated the way out of an identity that is closed in on itself and blockaded toward an open, relational, and dialogically understood identity of the Church.[8]

At the 50-year mark Catholics questioned themselves about where they were in relation to the Council: Had we experienced the Church as a people reborn in the “New Pentecost”? Was the Church experienced around the world as Karl Rahner described at the closing of the Council, a “world religion” that is open to other religions? Did the Council create a Church that had compromised continuity with tradition as some in the Council feared it would, in order to embrace modern notions of development, or secularism? Did the Council actually nurture division among the People of God by going too far to accommodate the sometimes-schismatic minority voices? Did Pope John XXIII make a mistake in calling for a “Pastoral” Ecumenical Council that requires members to grow beyond the doctrinal, juridical, institutional notions of church? To grow up and grow beyond the designation of the “simple faithful” into their identity as adult disciples of Christ?

Typically, the task of reception of a Council takes around 100 years, and the task falls ultimately to the faithful Catholic people in the pews, but our historical situation is unique. Walter Kasper believes “the Council was not only the ending of a development [a juridical, triumphalist religious institution], but the starting point for new developments and for new spiritual departures, that thank goodness arise alongside many losses and failures.”[9]

Massimo Faggioli reflects on Karl Rahner’s perspective that Vatican II is “a beacon for the future of the Church,” but also a transitional moment in the long history of the Church. “The Council made a new start possible and legitimate.”[10]

While the bishops at Vatican II affirmed the necessity of the Church’s witness to holiness — hearts and minds filled with desire for God and for Heaven, as Pope Benedict XVI urged — they saw the Church as the Body that “strains toward the completed Kingdom,” meaning the world transformed in justice and love, a world that “cannot be transformed and offered to God without the spirit of the beatitudes.”[11] In the opening paragraph of The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church they orient the Church to the service of unity of all people on earth as:

The present-day conditions of the world add greater urgency to this work of the Church [“union with God and of the unity of the whole human race” — its universal mission] so that all men [people], joined more closely today by various social, technical and cultural ties, might also attain fuller unity in Christ.

In The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World the Council asks:

What needs to be recommended for the upbuilding of contemporary society? What is the ultimate significance of human activity throughout the world? People are waiting for an answer to these questions. From the answers it will be increasingly clear that the People of God and the human race in whose midst it lives render service to each other. Thus the mission of the Church will show its religious, and by that very fact, its supremely human character… (emphasis mine) (Gaudium et spes, #11)

            The Church … has no fiercer desire than that in pursuit of the welfare of all she may be able to develop herself freely under any kind of government which grants recognition to the basic rights of person and family, to the demands of the common good and to the free exercise of her own mission. (Gaudium et spes, #42)

(3) Minority voices

The Council’s achievements were hard won; serious disagreements arose at almost every turn. Father O’Malley remembers that the “great battles” in the Council were battles over the Church’s identity. They were not disagreements over Church teachings — by Pope John’s design Vatican II was not a “doctrinal” council. No, the battles that took place during the Council were over tradition, over the understanding of who the Catholic people have become through the centuries, and how “change” figures into the unfolding of our identity and our mission as Church in a fast-moving modern world.[12]

During the celebration of the 60th anniversary Mass Pope Francis himself “lamented that those changes had sometimes led to deep divisions within the church.”

“How often, in the wake of the Council, did Christians prefer to choose sides in the church, not realizing that they were breaking their mother’s heart! How many times did they prefer to cheer on their own party rather than being servants of all? To be progressive or conservative rather than being brothers and sisters?” he asked.[13]

The minority voices in the Council, not to be forgotten, continue to express a certain fear of losing the Church’s “tradition.” A look “inside” at the Council debates — at “the conversations, confrontations, compromises, and conciliations” — reveals who some of the key participants were whose perspectives are still affecting the Church 60 years later.

Massimo Faggioli among other Vatican II scholars categorizes the Council participants as the “reformers,” the “traditionalists,” and the “sedevacantists” who believe that the Chair of Peter has been vacant since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958. They believe Pius’ successor, John XXIII, acted heretically in calling for the Council, and then Pope Paul VI acted heretically as Pope John’s successor to promulgate the Documents of Vatican II. Consequently, strict sedevacantists recognize Pope Pius XII as the last legitimate Pope.

A leader among the sedevacantists was Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991), whom Pope John XXIII assigned to the Preparatory Commission of the Council in 1959. During the Council, however, Lefebvre and a small group of around 70 bishops formed a bloc they called Coetus Internationalis Patrum (or CIP; Latin for International Group of Fathers) with the purpose of guaranteeing that their views were part of every council discussion. They became active in the second session of the Council when they rallied against the movement to establish collegialitymeaning the participation of bishops in governing the Church — as one of the defining features of governance within the Church. Lefebvre deemed this and the pastoral nature of the Council as serious weaknesses. For a number of reasons he concluded that Vatican II was “the work of the devil against the Church.”[14] Although the CIP remained small, the members were active in their protest voting, and in their refusal to network with the episcopal conferences within the Council. They considered participation in these conferences to be expressions of collegiality, and chose to remain isolated.

The “traditionalists” within the Council were referred to as the minority. They coexisted with the majority to accomplish the political and theological work of the Council. From the beginning to the end they opposed the direction the Council took on almost every issue: liturgical reform, reform of the Roman Curia, ecumenism, religious freedom, the role of the Church in the modern world, and on the idea that the Church can change.[15] As debates continued from October 1962 to December 1965, however, some members of the conservative minority began to see the need for change and voted with the majority to accept the 16 documents produced by the Council.

The steadfast traditionalists within the Council included Cardinal Giuseppi Siri and Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani whose motto was Semper idem (“always the same”), and they kept fighting even after the Council for their interpretation of the event. They viewed the Council as a “dangerous and potentially catastrophic event for the Catholic Church,” but they remained members of the Church which did not change as drastically as they had feared it would. [16]

There was also a tiny group of ultraconservative bishops who joined Lefebvre’s group, holding on to their conviction that the Council was illegitimate.[17] They formed their own schismatic Society of St. Pius X, named for the pope who condemned Modernism in his 1907 Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis.

The “reformers,” often impugned as radical in their understanding of the purpose of the Council and later in their interpretation of it, included personages like Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens, theologians Yves Congar, Karl Rahner, Edward Schillebeeckx, Hans Küng, and after the Council the bishops who did not fear the challenge of implementing the Council in their dioceses and in the universal Church. Nor, says Faggioli, “did they fear debating with Paul VI on how to apply some of the most delicate aspects of the Council.” They spoke out about the real need for collegiality in the Church.[18]

(4) The last decade: 50th anniversary on

In the 10 years since the church celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Vatican Council II, a series of important events have deeply affected the lives and faith of the Catholics around the world. Among them are:

  1. Pope Benedict XVI resigned Feb. 28, 2013, just four months after the 50 anniversary of the Council’s opening.
  2. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Cardinal and Jesuit from Argentina, was elected two weeks later on March 13, 2013. He took Francis as his papal name.
  3. Pope Francis is the first pope since Vatican II who did not personally participate in the Council.
  4. In short order, Pope Francis began preaching against clericalism and staffing offices in the Vatican with lay people, many of them women.
  5. Pope Francis set about establishing the essential structure designated by the Council for listening to the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ: the institution-wide, worldwide synod.
  6. Pope Francis began publishing encyclicals and papal letters to advance the teachings of Vatican II, with special attention to the Gospels and the Constitutions on the Church.
  • Evangelii gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) in 2013: an apostolic exhortation issued eight months into his papacy, a “programmatic” for his pontificate.
  • Laudato si’ (Praise Be to You) in 2015: an encyclical letter on the environment, “On care for our common home.”
  • Amoris laetitia (The Joy of Love) in 2016: an apostolic exhortation “On love in the family.”
  • Gaudete et exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad) in 2018: an apostolic exhortation “On the call to holiness in today’s world.”
  • Christus vivit (Christ is Alive) in 2018: an apostolic exhortation “To young people and to the whole people of God.”
  • Fratelli tutti (Brethren all) in 2019: an encyclical letter “On fraternity and social friendship.”[25]

Catholics’ experiences and understanding of the Council, their understanding of the Church and their role in it, and their concrete sense of their catholicity, especially their membership in a world-church are all enhanced through the synodal process. Catholics are participating in their local communities and sharing their faith (sensus fidelium) in their local churches. The Catholic people’s expressed faith and hopes are becoming their contributions to the direction of the universal church. This new engagement of the People of God in the spirit of Vatican II witnesses to a new health in the Body of Christ, a maturity, and commitment to the Gospel and to Christ.

In Conclusion

 At the 60-year mark of the opening of Vatican Council II, the late church historian John O’Malley, SJ, invites us to compare the Council’s achievements thus far with the hopes of the Catholic people before the Council began. They were polled about their hopes which reflected the longing for a “springtime” in the Church. O’Malley said those hopes 60 years ago included:

— an affirmation of the dignity of the laity;

— a long-overdue modification of the predominantly clerical, institutional, hierarchical model of Church;

— efforts to heal the divisions among Christians and the Church’s relations with non-Christian religions;

— an end to the Church’s stance of cultural isolation;

— embracing a new freedom of expression and action within the Church;

— a more broadly exercised pastoral authority, especially a strengthening of the role of the bishops as a body and the importance of the local churches in relation to the Pope and Curia;

— renovating the Church’s teaching on “religious liberty” with strengthened support for the principle of “freedom of conscience;”

— better grounding of theology and biblical studies on historical principles;

— liturgies and styles of piety in keeping with openness, freedom of conscience and social responsibility;

— promoting a more positive appreciation of “the world” in “the new era.”

Many of those still await fulfillment. But there is greater hope when the Holy Spirit is provided a way to enter our lives and the Church. Vatican Council II provided the way.



[1] Christopher White, “Pope Francis marks 60th anniversary of Vatican II opening by pleading for the church to overcome polarization,” Commonweal (October 11, 2022).

[2] Michael Sean Winters, “Vatican II at 60: Is Pope Francis or Ross Douthat Right?” National Catholic Reporter (October 14, 2022).

[3] Yves Congar, Informations Catholiques Internationales 224 (Sept. 15, 1964): 1.

[4] Massimo Faggioli, “Synodality and Papal Primacy: Questions RegardIng the Catholic Church Today and the Next Pope, La Croix International and National Catholic Reporter (May 3, 2021).

[5] Joseph A. Komonchak, “Ecclesiology of Vatican II,” Speech (Catholic Univ. of America, March 27, 1999).

[6] Komonchak, “Ecclesiology of Vatican II.”

[7] Komonchak, “Ecclesiology of Vatican II.”

[8] Walter Kasper, Katholische Kirche: Wesen-Wirklichkeit-Sendung (Freiburg: Herder, 2011), p. 37. ”

[9] Kasper, p. 38.

[10] Massimo Faggioli, Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning (Mahwah, New Jersey, 2012), p. 120. Quoting Karl Rahner, “The Abiding Significance of the Second Vatican Council,” Concern for the Church (Theological Investigations XX), trans. Edward Quinn (New York: Crossroad, 1981), p. 96.

[11] Lumen gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), Documents of Vatican Council II, #5, #31.

[12] O’Malley, pp. 42-43.

[13] Christopher White, “Pope Francis Marks 60th Anniversary of Vatican II Opening by Pleading for the Church to Overcome Polarization, National Catholic Reporter (October 11, 2022).

[14] Faggioli, pp. 34-35.

[15] Faggioli, pp. 24-25.

[16] Faggioli, p. 25.

[17] Faggioli, pp. 25-26.

[18] Faggioli, pp. 21-22.


More about Sister Catherine Michard, PhD

Sister Catherine R. Michaud, PhD, was born in Salina, Kan., in 1945, while her father was serving in the Air Force at Schilling Air Base. Her mother was born in Hays, Kan., and was close to her godmother, Sister Rose Catherine Brungardt, and her two sisters who had also been Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. When World War II ended, Cathie and her parents returned to Colorado where her father had inherited his father’s farm. She grew up in Colorado with her 13 younger brothers and sisters.

Cathie attended Colorado State University for three and a half years before she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia in September 1967. She then completed a bachelor’s degree in English at Marymount College of Kansas. After teaching language arts and religion for several years, she was appointed to the team of the congregation’s retreat center, Manna House of Prayer in Clyde, Kan.

As preparation to continue in this position, she received training in spiritual direction and retreat work in the Ignatian tradition and earned a master’s degree in spirituality from Gonzaga University and Immaculate Heart Retreat Center in Spokane, Wash. But rather than returning to Manna House, she was appointed to the theology faculty of Marymount College.

To continue teaching theology she undertook doctoral studies in systematic theology at Regis College of the Toronto School of Theology in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She was awarded the S.T.L (Licentiate in Sacred Theology) from Regis College (Summa cum Laude) in 1993 followed by a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from the Toronto School of Theology of the University of Toronto. Her dissertation titled, Pneumatology in Vatican Council II: Forward Steps and Open Questions, has been the basis for her subsequent teaching and scholarly works in ecclesiology and pneumatology (theology of the Holy Spirit).

Early in Sister Catherine’s doctoral studies in Toronto, Marymount College closed. So in 1994 she joined the faulty of the College of St. Catherine, now St. Catherine University, in St. Paul, Minn. She taught systematic theology and spirituality for 18 years at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and served as director of the Master of Arts Program in Theology, which included oversight of the graduate certificate program in spiritual direction. She also served as director of the Certificate Programs in Pastoral and Catechetical Ministry.

Today Sister Catherine is engaged in spiritual direction, directing retreats, research, writing, and lecturing in her areas of specialty, Vatican Council II, ecclesiology, and pneumatology in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul-Minneapolis predominantly.

Vietnamese Sisters bring joy to the Motherhouse

October 25, 2022 by  

It all began in 2018 with a possibly suspicious email, the kind you might delete without a second look. Four years later, it concluded with the arrival in Concordia of three Dominican Sisters from Vietnam.

The story from that beginning to the end features bureaucracy, the pandemic, persistence and generosity – and it’s almost as curious as that initial email.

“The email was lengthy and talked about sisters in Vietnam,” Sister Jean Rosemarynoski recalls. It was from a Father Bao Nguyen, a Jesuit priest in Baltimore. “At first it looked like a scam… but for some reason I did not delete it.”

Father Bao was asking women religious in America to sponsor sisters from Vietnam, to come here to live and serve for two years. The program is called Formation Support for Vietnam and was founded in 2008 by a young Jesuit who realized that Vietnamese priests, brothers and sisters did not have access to Catholic educational institutions to deepen their spirituality and improve their area of study.

The program has assisted more than 300 people from Vietnam, in placements with congregations and dioceses across the United States.

“I responded to Father Bao’s email asking for more information,” Sister Jean explains. “Then in the coming days the whole Council had a Zoom call with him. We talked to the sisters living at the Motherhouse since the sisters would be living with them to get their input on whether we should pursue this. They unanimously agreed they wanted to do that.”

The next step was applying for religious visas through the Department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. And it got complicated, Sister Jean says: “Because we had never sponsored someone on a religious visa before, we needed an on-site visit from Homeland Security to verify we are who we say we are. That took almost a year to schedule.”

Finally, “We were cleared for the sisters in Vietnam to apply for visas in January 2020.”

Then the pandemic hit and nothing happened for two years.

In February 2022, Sister Jean heard from Father Bao again: Were the Concordia sisters still interested?


The answer was a resounding yes, even though the visiting sisters would be from a different congregation — which meant the Concordia congregation had to start the visa application process all over again. But this time there was no need for the Homeland Security check and bureaucracy moved a little more quickly.

Three Dominican Sister of Go Vap, in Ho Chi Minh City, met the Concordia community via Zoom.

“For several weeks our sisters have communicated with them, helping them to have some knowledge of English when they arrive,” Sister Jean said. “Because there is a 12-hour time difference between us and Vietnam we zoom at 7:30 at night which is 7:30 the next morning for them. That has worked out well. Our sisters have a sense that they know them and vice versa which will make the first few weeks of transition much easier for everyone.”

The three women – Sisters Tran Thi Tinh, Nguyen Thi Tien and Hoong Thi Hoai — endured a 36-hour trip to get to Kansas City, and then the 3½ hours drive from there to Concordia. They arrived just in time for the Concordia sister’s annual fall Assembly, where they were officially introduced to the congregation.

Their congregation is one of 147 in 109 countries that make up the Dominican Sisters International Confederation. Together, the Confederation has nearly 19,500 Sisters.

In their two years here, they will have the opportunity to become proficient in English and learn American customs. Then they will continue their formal education, with the goal of returning to Vietnam to help their community open a home for the elderly.


Links to video of Sister Naira Regina da Silva Ribeiro’s Final Profession of Vows ceremony

August 30, 2022 by  

Follow the links to watch the Sister Naira Regina’s final profession of vows on Aug. 27, 2022, in Caxias, Brazil. The ceremony takes place in two parts, please click the top link to begin.


Video of Eulogy for Sister Rose Beatrice Dreiling — Aug. 11, 2022

August 11, 2022 by  

Please click the link below:

Creating a greener lifestyle

July 25, 2022 by  

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

Completely unplug from technology at least one day a month.


Eulogy for Sister Charlotte Lutgen — Nov. 26, 1927 – July 15, 2022

July 15, 2022 by  

VIGIL: July 17, 2022, at the Nazareth Motherhouse
EULOGIST: Sister Mary Jo Thummel

Be nothing to yourself and be utterly given to God and to the neighbor. — Maxim of the Little Institute of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Maxim 39

Charlotte (Geraldine) was born on Nov. 26, 1927, to Charles and Elizabeth (Koenigsman) Lutgen on a farm three miles northwest of Tipton, Kansas. She was the eldest of seven children: Charlotte, Leon, Robert, Richard, Lawrence, William and Carolyn Ann. She is survived by Leon and William.

During these depression years, and after suffering losses due to dust storms, grasshoppers, hailstorms and other hardships, Charles and Elizabeth decided to move to eastern Kansas and spent time in Piqua, Neosha Falls and Yates Center. After a valiant effort at farming and wanting a place where the children could be enrolled in a Catholic school, the family settled in Beloit, Kansas. Charles took up the trade of carpentry.

Charlotte graduated from St. John’s High school in Beloit in 1947 and had the honor of being class valedictorian. She received a Sister of St. Joseph Scholarship for Marymount Collegebut did not intend to go to college; so, forfeited the scholarship. However, since she planned to enter nurses’ training at St. John’s Hospital in Salina, Sister Theresa Vincent was able to get her a full three-year nursing scholarship.

In the fall of 1947, Charlotte started nurses’ training at St. John’s in Salina. The first semester was spent at Marymount College in Salina, Kansas carrying a full college schedule. It was during this time that her vocation “surfaced.” She had never really shared the idea of a religious vocation with anyone, not even her aunt, Sister Maxine (who was a Sister of St. Joseph), even though she had always had a great admiration for Sister Maxine and a deep desire to follow in her footsteps. A chance remark that Charlotte made, in this regard, was picked up by a college friend who lived in the same dormitory and who later said that she and her sister were entering the Sisters of St. Joseph in February. After many soul-searching hours Charlotte decided that she too would enter the Sisters of St. Joseph. This was shortly before the Christmas holidays and a lot of correspondence took place quickly. Letters were sent to Mother Chrysostom, and a visit took place with her. Charlotte quickly wrote her aunt, Sister Maxine, and told her. By the time vacation came all preparations had been made for entering in February. Charlotte waited until after Christmas to tell her parents. About their reactions, Charlotte says, “My mother was a little hard to convince but she never put any obstacle in my way. Dad in his very quiet way knew his prayers were being answered.”

On Feb. 2, 1948, Charlotte journeyed to Concordia with her parents and entered. She was allowed to dress up in her postulant’s uniform before her parents left. This was a sacred and emotional experience for all of them, including Sister Maxine.

Sister Therese Marie was the postulant mistress at that time. Charlotte said that in her quiet and religious way she led the ten postulants through days of homesickness, tears, joys, sorrows and the way and life of a sister of St. Joseph.

On Aug. 15, 1948, Charlotte received the habit of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas. She talked about the exhilaration of walking down the aisle in a bridal gown to become a bride of Christ. She said her heart was so full it could not be described in words. After reentering the chapel dressed in the habit of a sister of St. Joseph, the bishop announced her new name — Sister Charlotte. Charlotte was so glad to have Saint Charles Borromeo as her patron saint and was very happy to have a form of her father’s name, Charles.

On Aug. 15, 1949, Charlotte pronounced temporary vows and received her first mission assignment. It was for Saint Mary’s Hospital in Manhattan, Kansas, where she continued her nurses’ training.

In 1950, Charlotte’s father become ill with a heart condition. After he returned home, even though temporary professed Sisters were not allowed home visits, Sister Fidelis arranged for her to visit her dad at home. Charlotte was always grateful for her kindness. In November, while a patient in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Concordia, her dad’s condition worsened, and it was decided to transfer him to the Medical Center in Kansas City. On Nov. 22, 1950, as he was being transferred, the ambulance driver routed the trip through Manhattan so Charlotte could have a short visit with her dad. Shortly before the ambulance reached Kansas City her dad suffered a stroke and died. Charlotte remarked, “How good God is — to have let me see Dad before He called him home to heaven.”

Charlotte’s nurses’ training was completed in March of 1952. She was then transferred to St. John’s Hospital in Salina. While there, she took pediatric affiliation in Wichita, Kansas, from May to August. The time away from Community strengthened Charlotte’s awareness of how much “the Community” meant to her and confirmed her calling to religious life.

In May 1952, Charlotte graduated from Saint Mary’s School of Nursing and took her State Boards at Emporia, Kansas. After about six months she received the happy news that she had passed her state boards.

After that, Charlotte served at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Sabetha, Kansas, the Rawlins County Hospital in Atwood, Kansas, and then went back to St. Mary’s in Manhattan.

During these years, she worked in x-ray, lab, surgery, obstetrics, floor duty, admissions, medical records, emergency room and, on occasion, in the kitchen.  I quote “not to do the cooking but wash the dishes.” I can see Charlotte’s shy smile as she wrote those words..

In January 1958 she was sent to Marymount to work on her degree in nursing and graduated in May of 1960 with a BSNE. (Bachelor of Science in Nursing Education)

In August 1960 Charlotte was missioned to St. John’s Hospital in Salina. An outstanding highlight during the two-year stay there was a trip to Rome, Italy, in December 1961 for her brother Richard’s ordination to the priesthood. Sister Maxine traveled with her to Rome.

Charlotte said, “Richard had spent the last four years there at the North American College. The pope, Pope John XXIII, granted the college permission to have the ordination in the Vatican due to the large class of sixty. Just to visit the Vatican was a privilege in itself but to witness an ordination for the first time and my brother being one of the ordinands was truly an experience of gratitude. While in Europe we traveled with my brother, Father Dick, to Switzerland where we spent Christmas high up in the Alps. From there we visited Vienna and Venice in Austria and journeyed back to Rome and visited several places there. My mother along with several relatives accompanied us. I know Dad was witnessing a son of his raised to the priesthood.”

Charlotte’s next missions were in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Belvidere, Illinois, and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Concordia, Kansas.

In August 1971, after an eight-month illness from cancer, Charlotte’s mother died on Aug. 12, 1971. About this experience, Charlotte mentions that “she was very grateful for her five brothers who consoled her and welcomed her into their homes at any time.”

Charlotte continued working at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Concordia. During this time the first and third floors were closed due to a decrease in patients. After many years of caring for pediatric and geriatric patients, Charlotte now made the adaption of learning to care for surgical patients. My observation of Charlotte’s nursing ministry was that it was carried out in a loving compassionate manner.

In October 1987, Charlotte took a leave of absence from nursing to stay with her brother, Father Dick, who had become critically ill. He was placed on a heart transplant list and had to stay in Wichita. Charlotte waited with him for six months until he received his heart on April 16, 1988. In June, Charlotte returned to Concordia to care for her own health and worked as a RN in Stafford Hall, here at the Motherhouse. When the St. Mary’s sisters were all moved to the Motherhouse, Charlotte resigned her nursing position and took up the position of purchasing and distributing supplies for the sisters in Stafford and the Motherhouse.

In January 2004, Charlotte started volunteer work at Mt. Joseph Nursing Home. Her brother, Father Dick, became chaplain at Mt. Joseph Nursing Home on Jan. 29, 2004. It seemed like an ideal opportunity to attend his masses as well as to help the residents in wheelchairs to and from the chapel. Later when the need arose, she became Eucharistic Minister, substituting for the regular Eucharistic Ministers as needed.

In January 2005, Charlotte moved to the Motherhouse and continued her usual duties at the Motherhouse and Mt. Joseph. Charlotte enjoyed the ministry at both places. Everyone was so grateful for her services, and she felt blessed to have plenty of quiet time to spend in prayer and “being.”

Charlotte was a very quiet, private person but she had a good sense of humor and lovely smile. She enjoyed crocheting but there were no pieces of her work in evidence in her room. I would guess that she had given them all away because that would fit with her giving nature.

Charlotte loved to read a wide variety of materials and on occasion, she selected one of the novels from our St. Anne Shrine library. (I check out books from that same library and would run across ones in which she has discretely written her initials and the date she concluded the book, in pencil, of course.) I don’t know if she wanted to remember that she had read that book or that it was one she wished to reread. I was always glad to find her markings because I knew I was assured of a good read.

Charlotte’s prayer books and rosary were always in evidence in her room. From my conversations with her, I know that prayer was a main priority and she not only said prayers but lived a life of prayer. She believed in a merciful loving God who shepherded her throughout her life. In one of her recent mission statements, she said, and I quote, “I want to be aware of the Sacred around and in me. I want to love all — knowing that at life’s end I will be judged on love.”

I began this short glimpse into Charlotte’s life by quoting Maxim 39 – “Be nothing to yourself and be utterly given to God and to the neighbor.” I certainly believe that Charlotte’s life attested to the living out of this Maxim.

 I would like to conclude by quoting the words that Charlotte used to sum up her life. “God is good. My religious life has been very rewarding. Truly our Lord’s words, ‘I have chosen you’ has been a daily reminder of my vocation God has given me and the way in which I am to live that vocation. I am ever grateful for the love and support my religious Community and my family have given me over these years.”

Dear Charlotte, we too are grateful to have had you as a part of our lives, we have been enriched.

To make an online donation in Sister Charlotte Lutgen’s memory, click on the button below:



The power of prayer!

July 15, 2022 by  

From left: Sisters Mary Savoie, Faye Huelsmann, Pat Lewter, Janis Wagner, Margaret Nacke, Regina Ann Brummel, Mary Fran Simons and Betty Maschka begin a prayer session in song.

Many of the ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia are obvious and easily visible — such as the Neighbor to Neighbor center in downtown Concordia, the Manna House of Prayer retreat center and the Helping Hands ministry, to name just a few.

But there are other ministries, though harder to see, that are just as active and important.

It doesn’t matter what time of day it is. You can almost always find Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia in the Sacred Heart Chapel or in the small chapel on the second floor of the Nazareth Motherhouse.

They are the sisters retired from active ministry who now live at the Motherhouse in Concordia, and their ministry now is prayer.

The Community initiated a prayer apostolate in 1977. The sisters always extend an invitation to all those needing prayer to send requests to us for remembrance in prayer.

The prayer board is set up not far from the Sacred Heart Chapel, and sisters regularly check intentions posted there.

Through the years, a sister has stepped forward to help manage the board and respond to requests. Sister Donna Otter has been in charge of the prayer board since about 2018, following in the footsteps of Sisters Rose Beatrice Dreiling and Norma Schlick.

Prayer requests arrive in a variety of ways. Some people mail them in to the Development Office. Some opt to send a Facebook Messenger request. Some contact a sister they know and ask them to post their request. However the easiest way to quickly get a request on the prayer board is to email Sister Donna Otter at

In addition to the prayer board, which is in use year round, the Development Office sends out paper Christmas tree ornaments during the Christmas season to everyone on our mailing list. Everyone is encouraged to write their prayer requests on an ornament and mail it back to the Development Office.

“When the ornaments come back, they are recorded in our office as well as in the prayer request book,” said Assistant Development Director Ambria Gilliland. “The book is placed next to the ornament tree outside the chapel so that the sisters have the opportunity to pray over them as they walk by.”

And the prayer ornaments aren’t just discarded after the tree comes down for the year.

“After Christmas, I gather up all the ornaments and send approximately five or six ornaments to each sister, associate and candidate outside of the Motherhouse,” Gilliland said. “I include a letter asking them to keep each of the people in their prayers throughout the year and if they are inclined, to send a letter to them once in a while. The rest of the ornaments are placed in a bowl and set out in the dining room for the Motherhouse sisters to take and continue to hold in prayer.”

Gilliland reviewed the number of Christmas ornament prayer requests for the past eight years and found that the sisters regularly get from 400 to well over 500 requests each holiday season.

Obituary for Sister Charlotte Lutgen — Nov. 26, 1927 – July 15, 2022

July 15, 2022 by  

Sister Charlotte Lutgen died July 15, 2022, at Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia, Kansas. She was 94 years old and a Sister of St. Joseph for 74 years. She was born in rural Tipton, Kansas, on Nov. 26, 1927, to Charles and Elizabeth Koenigsman Lutgen, the oldest of seven children, and was baptized Geraldine. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia on Feb. 2, 1948. On Aug. 14, 1948, Geraldine received the habit of the Sisters of St. Joseph and was given the name Sister Charlotte. She pronounced first vows on Aug. 15, 1949 and final vows on Aug. 15, 1952.

In 1948, Sister Charlotte received a diploma in nursing from St. Mary School of Nursing in Manhattan, Kansas. In 1960, she received a BSNE in Nursing from Marymount College, Salina. She served as an RN in hospitals staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Manhattan, Salina, Sabetha, Atwood, Concordia, and Belvidere, Illinois. Beginning in 1988, Sister Charlotte served the community as staff nurse at the Motherhouse. In 2005, she moved to the Motherhouse to do volunteer nursing duties.

Sister Charlotte was preceded in death by her parents, one sister and three brothers. She is survived by two brothers, Leon and William. Bible Vigil Service will be held 7 p.m. July 17 in the Chapel of the Nazareth Motherhouse with Sister Mary Jo Thummel as the eulogist. The Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 a.m. July 18 in the Motherhouse Chapel with Rev. Barry Brinkman presiding. We respectfully request that anyone attending either service wear a mask.

The burial will be in the Nazareth Motherhouse Cemetery. Chaput-Buoy Mortuary, 325 W. 6th St., Concordia, is in charge of arrangements. Memorials for Sister Charlotte Lutgen 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 Charlotte Lutgen’s memory, click on the button below:


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