Creating a greener lifestyle

December 17, 2018 by  

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

Choose to enjoy nature rather than go shopping.

 

Eulogy for Sister Margaret Jilka: Feb. 17, 1930 — Dec. 12, 2018

December 17, 2018 by  

Vigil: Dec. 16, 2018 at the Nazareth Motherhouse
Eulogist: Sister Layla Kloeker

This evening we come together to honor and pay tribute to Sister Margaret Jilka: aunt, cousin, friend and Community member to all of us.

In 1999, at the time of her 50th Anniversary, Sister Margaret wrote that “We are not so virtuous as the angels, nor so beautiful nor so powerful, but we are much more interesting.”

Sister Margaret’s interesting life began on Feb. 17, 1930, as the youngest of five children to Jerome and Agnes Wearing Jilka. She was given the name of Margaret Mary. The family house was on the east edge of Salina, Kan. Today, we would call it at an acreage for they had a cow and other animals, chickens and ducks and a large garden. In our present time it is an area filled with beautiful homes and curvy streets south of Marymount and the cemeteries.
Margaret recalled that their house burned one night when she was about 3 years old. That house was followed by a brick house in the same location. Her Dad joined his brother Ed in the Jilka Furniture Store in downtown
Salina.

Sister Margaret’s educational life began at Sacred Heart Grade School and High School in Salina. Her early years
were happy. As a teenager in high school she wrote in her life story that those years were happy but difficult.
“I had a lousy self-image and was very insecure.” She fell into the pressure of peers, joined the crowd and was wild and free! Margaret envied her sister Ruth because Ruth was good and beautiful. Also during high school an-
other girl came to live with the Jilka family. She was an orphan girl who was with the family through high school and college until her marriage.

During high school, Margaret confided to Sister Joseph Patricia her desire to enter the Community of the Sisters
of St. Joseph. Sister Joseph Patricia responded with, “The life may not always be easy, but oh, the Teacher!”

Sister Margaret entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on Sept. 8, 1948. She made First Profession on March 19, 1950
and was given the name Sister Mary Eugene. She made Final Profession on March 19, 1953. Living band members
are: Sisters Lucy Schneider, Mary Augustine and Doris Marie Flax. This year, 2019, was to be her 70th anniversary
as a Sister of St. Joseph.

Margaret recalls that her first introduction to Thomas Merton was when his newly published book, “Seven Story
Mountain” was read for table reading the year that she was a postulant. In the novitiate, Sister Margaret admired
Sister Therese Marie, her Novice Director, and was impressed with her spirituality. However, trying to articulate her
own struggles was difficult.

Around age 20, Sister Margaret was missioned to Chicago to teach kindergarten and first grade. With no training,
it was a difficult adjustment. So difficult that she thought of leaving the community. Her next mission was Monett, Mo. Again, five more years at the primary level. She became ill and needed an
emergency operation.

A turning point in her life came at Cure of Ars, in Leawood Kan., where she had the courage to ask for a different grade level and was given grade four. After a year and a half she was transferred to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Concordia, and finished the semester with grade six.

While in New Almelo, Kan., she met Father Bill Killian who took an interest in the sisters. She also appreciated
the wide open spaces in which to walk, think and pray.

During the transitional years after Vatican II, she began a religious education degree. In the 1970s, another rural
setting was Cawker City. She and Sister Jean Befort traveled to a circuit of parishes to help with religious education programs. In 1973, during her time there, her mother came to live with her. Also, she would invite her cousin, Elea-
 nor Wearing, a resident at Mount Joseph, to her place for a vacation.

The family had a pasture north of Salina. She spent many hours there and established a relationship with her
nieces and began picturing herself teaching high school religion. However, she began feeling restless and inadequate
again and visited her cousin who was a member of Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity. She also made a
workshop on journaling with Ira Progoff.

This was an interesting turn in her life. Her contemplative eyes were opened. She desired a simpler lifestyle
and she acquainted herself with Fordham University, the Greenwich Village where Thomas Merton had lived and
visited Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker House. Later, she returned to Fordham and completed a masters degree in
theology with a thesis on a portion of Thomas Merton’s writings.

Later, after we had become friends, she handed me a Thomas Merton holy card, “Thoughts in Solitude.” She
said, “That’s me over and over, in years past.”

The card reads: “I do not see the road ahead of me … the fact that I think that I am following your will does
not mean that I am actually doing so. But the desire to please you God, does in fact please me.”

In Margaret’s own words: “The spiritual writer, poet, social critic, contemplative … Thomas Merton has added a
unique design to my life. Because of my love for and interest in Merton’s life and writings, I believe he has made a
vital and irreplaceable contribution to my spirituality and prayer life. His method of writing, his journey and sharing
… the articulation of his faith story profoundly affected and challenged me.”

During her years in Grand Island she helped begin the Search Retreat for students out of high school. Her moth-
er lived there with her also, but when her mother’s health began to decline she moved back to Salina. She worked at Sacred Heart High School for one year. She missed the support of her previous years and took a part-time position
in pastoral care at St. John’s Hospital. This worked out well. Her mother passed in 1990.

Another new experience in the Church now was “Certification in Pastoral Care” and she applied for the CPE
program in Wichita. Later she wrote, “This pastoral care ministry has become very meaningful for me. I plan to
continue after the CPE Program in Wichita.”

Everywhere she went she had appreciation for nature which she called a gift. About her love for nature she
wrote: “The pasture is rich with hills, vast open spaces, bright and fragrant. The pasture is what my beloved is to
me. I walk alone. Solitude nourishes my spirit and gives me opportunity to be or rest in God’s love. I am alone with
God, the Creator of my being. In nature my heart is opened to His love. The presence of love within the ordinary
events of life, like a walk in the pasture fuels and energizes my spirit to spread His love.”

It was not unusual to see a dog accompanying her on these walks.

I think in these last years, if she had been able, she would be quoting Pope Francis, his book “Laudate Si” and his
love for all of creation much like she quoted Thomas Merton on Solitude.

Many people believe that eternal life begins at death. In reality it begins with our Baptism. In a reflection that
Margaret wrote on the occasion of her 50th Jubilee she says: “God calls us to be in touch with our center, the still point, the God within. We each hear that call within our lives. In that call we realize that our ministry is the expres-
sion of who we are. The journey of each of us is to find that depth … to find God at the center of our life.”

For nieces and nephews, and all of Margaret’s friends, you will find that Sister Margaret’s love for you will be a
deeper and fuller love that is enriched by God’s own love and direction for you. Death does not separate us but
deepens our union with God and with one another.

“Live out your life with one desire only:
to be always what God wants you to be,
In nature, grace and glory
for time and eternity.” Maxim 73

 

Memorials for Sister Margaret Jilka 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 Margaret Jilka’s memory, click on the button below:

DonateNow 

Curtis Genereux and his helpful elves entertain at Reading with Friends

December 14, 2018 by  

Guest reader Curtis Genereux, and his three helpful elves, entertained a full house of kids at Neighbor to Neighbor’s Reading with Friends on Friday, Dec. 14.

This month’s book was “The Night Before Christmas,” by Clement C. Moore.

His elves — grandchildren Matthew, Priscilla and Lucina Eubanks — provided visual and sound effects for Genereux’s reading. Their creative collaboration brought lots of laughs and applause from the kids and parents.

Since it was first published anonymously in 1823, “The Night Before Christmas” has enchanted children with the story of St. Nicholas climbing down the chimney and filling all the stockings before springing back to his sleigh.

Matthew, using aids such as a slide whistle and other mysterious items, brought the story to life down to the clatter of reindeer hooves on the roof.

The Reading with Friends story times for children 3 to 5 years old are on the second Fridays of the month and all begin at 10 a.m. at Neighbor to Neighbor, 103 E. Sixth St. Each session includes playtime and a snack for the children, plus each child will receive a free copy of that day’s book to take home.

There is a limit of 30 children per session so parents must register in advance. Call Neighbor to Neighbor at 785/262-4215 or email neighbortoneighbor@csjkansas.org.

The monthly program has been a part of Neighbor to Neighbor’s regular offerings since September 2012. The next Reading with Friends events will be Jan. 11.

This year’s Reading with Friends is made possible thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation for Cloud County.

‘The Night Before Christmas’ featured book at Reading with Friends

December 11, 2018 by  

Neighbor to Neighbor has a very special book planned for this month’s Reading with Friends — “The Night Before Christmas,” by Clement C. Moore.

Since it was first published anonymously in 1823, “The Night Before Christmas” has enchanted children with the story of St. Nicholas climbing down the chimney and filling all the stockings before springing back to his sleigh. Many families read the poem every year, and this is an edition to treasure. The cherished verse is faithfully reproduced and accompanied by illustrator Charles Santore’s lavish illustrations.

Reading this most-loved poem is a classic family tradition and adds a magical component to every child’s Christmas!

The book will be read by special guest Curtis Genereux.

Story time will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 14.

The story times for children 3 to 5 years old are on the second Fridays of the month and all begin at 10 a.m. at Neighbor to Neighbor, 103 E. Sixth St. Each session includes playtime and a snack for the children, plus each child will receive a free copy of that day’s book to take home.

There is a limit of 30 children per session so parents must register in advance. Call Neighbor to Neighbor at 785/262-4215 or email neighbortoneighbor@csjkansas.org.

The monthly program has been a part of Neighbor to Neighbor’s regular offerings since September 2012. The next Reading with Friends events will be Jan. 11.

This year’s Reading with Friends is made possible thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation for Cloud County.

 

Santa and Mrs. Claus welcome a big crowd of kids to the Motherhouse

December 10, 2018 by  

It was standing room only for a while as families packed the Nazareth Motherhouse auditorium for the annual Christmas Open House on Dec. 9. Crisp winter weather and the return of last year’s popular Santa and Mrs. Claus — who on other days are known as Dell Lee and Annette Boswell of Leon, Iowa — led to some long lines through the auditorium and snaking out into the lobby.

“This Santa and Mrs. Claus are just the best,” said Sister Marilyn Wall. “They are so good with all of the kids and take time to talk with them.”

Santa and Mrs. Claus posed for photos with all the children during the free event.

“Say Pepsi!” Santa Claus said. When one of the children asked why, Santa said, “You can’t say Pepsi and frown.”

Immediately several of the kids tried it. Santa was right.

Liam Rodriguez, 4, of Concordia, was one of the first to sit on Santa’s lap and animatedly discuss his Christmas list.

“He was scared last year and wouldn’t go up,” said Liam’s dad, Rafael Rodriguez. “This year he wasn’t scared at all. We reminded him there would be cookies afterwards.”

Many Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia were on hand to serve ice-cold milk and punch and a selection of Christmas cookies to the crowds waiting to meet Santa.

“I think we served somewhere between 400 and 500 cookies,” Larry Metro, food service supervisor for the Sisters of St. Joseph, said. “And at least 10 gallons of punch.”

Other Sisters directed guests through the historic Motherhouse so that visitors could view the Heritage Center and the many Christmas decorations.

This year’s event also offered a drawing for a free door prize. The door prize was a set of eight Christmas ornaments that were sliced from the 64-year-old blue spruce trees that were cut down at the Motherhouse last winter. Snowflakes were hand-drawn on the wood slices to make a memento that will hold a piece of Motherhouse history. The prize was won by Ava Day, who was there with her mom, Latisha Day.

Some people might wonder why a convent would offer a visit with Santa, said President Jean Rosemarynoski, CSJ.

“We do it for several reasons. Many young families have not met religious sisters and this is an opportunity for a short visit with sisters, a tour of the Motherhouse and to learn more about us,” Sister Jean said. “One older child said he came specifically, ‘to see the nuns.’

“Having Santa at the Motherhouse also provides an opportunity for a no-cost, fun experience between parents and children. There are coloring sheets for the kids and parents sit with them at the table,” Sister Jean said. “We had a set of great-grandparents who are raising a 5-year-old great-granddaughter. They were appreciative of having a place to take her and give her this experience.

“There were foster parents who explained that their three young boys had never had normal childhood activities, and she was grateful to bring them to a place that would be warm and welcoming,” Sister Jean said.

“I was so happy with the crowd we had,” Ambria Gilliland, assistant director of development, said. “Seeing the joy on the kids’ faces truly made the whole event worth the work.”

 

 

Visit Santa and Mrs. Claus at Motherhouse Open House

December 6, 2018 by  

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will return to the Nazareth Motherhouse Christmas Open House this year! Bring the kids by for snacks and crafts and a chat with St. Nick while you take in the beauty of the historic Nazareth Motherhouse.

All ages are welcome from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Nazareth Motherhouse, 1300 Washington, in Concordia.

The Open House will include holiday music, coloring and fun for the kids and, of course, cookies, along with punch and coffee. Also included will be tours of the festively decorated five-story landmark home, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973. Many Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia will be on hand to welcome guests, lead tours and serve refreshments.

Last year’s hit Santa and Mrs. Claus — who on other days are known as Dell Lee and Annette Boswell of Leon, Iowa — will return again this year to delight their young guests. Be prepared for an entertaining time making Christmas memories and photographs that will last.

“I was so happy to see all the young families who came out,” said Ambria Gilliland, assistant development director for the Sisters following last year’s event.

The easiest access is from the east parking lot (between the Motherhouse and the Community Garden). The event is free and open to the public.

 

Manna House of Prayer to host “Christmas with Grandma”

November 30, 2018 by  

Manna House of Prayer will host its first “Christmas with Grandma” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1.

Sisters Mary Jo Thummel, Jean Ann Walton and Missy Ljungdahl will host grandmas, grandchildren — and aunts or moms are fine too! — and all the kids for a Saturday morning and lunch filled with fun, crafts and activities.

“We’re making a time for grandchildren, parents and children to spend some together time,” said Sister Mary Jo. “We’ll have fun, but also think about the real meaning of Christmas.”

Activities will include making ornaments and crafting, reading and spending quality time with their loved ones.

“Our Christmas gift is ourselves!” Sister Jean Ann said.

Sister Jean Ann said that participants will hopefully go home with a little something to decorate their tree, as well as new traditions for Christmas.

The cost is $50 for each “grandma” and children are free. The cost includes lunch as well as all materials.

Contact retreatcenter@mannahouse.org or call 785-243-4428.

Eulogy for Sister Christella Buser — July, 29, 1924 – Nov. 2, 2018

November 8, 2018 by  

VIGIL: Nov. 8, 2018, at the Nazareth Motherhouse
EULOGISTS: Sister Marcia Allen, Michael Buser, nephew, and writing by Sister Norma Schlick

We are here to celebrate the life of a woman of goodwill, good humor and a host of good relationships with family, community, and friends far and near. When Sister Christella asked me to give her eulogy she requested that it be short and humorous. As for short, she then handed me a 10-page, single-spaced story of her life to use. As for humor, I can recall many instances when she used her name to make people laugh. Once when speaking at a drug and alcohol dependency meeting over at St. Joseph’s Hospital she began her talk by telling the participants that they would not always be alcoholics but that she would always be a Buser!

She was indeed a Buser. Eleanor Maurine was born July 29, 1924 in Seneca, Kan., to George and Mary Elizabeth Karnowski Buser. She had six brothers, George, Alfred, Eugene, John, Donald and Burton (Bud). Her sisters were Mary Beth and Judith. She had a warm and happy childhood. Her parents provided well for the family and taught them to live full and productive lives.

She received her elementary and high school education from the Benedictine sisters who staffed the parish school in Seneca. After graduation from high school, she thought of going to Marymount College. The idea came to her when two sisters from Marymount, Mary Grace Waring and Euphrasia Barth, came to Seneca to recruit students for the college.

Her college years at Marymount were filled with serious study while earning a degree in music education and with many happy hours of the usual antics and social life with friends she made at school and with whom she maintained life-long contact.

After graduation she decided to enter the Sisters of St. Joseph in Concordia. She had a cousin here, Sister Margaret Ann Buser, and she was also greatly influenced by the lives of the sisters as she observed them at Marymount. She received the habit and the name Christella on March 19, 1947, made first vows in 1948 and final vows in 1951.

She was excited to get her first mission assignment to Tipton, Kan., to teach music and give private lessons. After five years in Tipton, she taught music at the parochial school in Concordia and then was asked to open a school to be staffed by our sisters in Leawood, Kan., the new Cure of Ars School where she would be the superior and music teacher. During this time through summer sessions she earned a MA in Music from DePaul University in Chicago.

Christella’s music ministry ended with election to the Executive Council in 1965. As vice president for President Therese Marie Stafford she saw many changes begin to take shape in religious life after Vatican Council II. She worked with the community in accepting the changes and was very compassionate with those who decided to leave religious life during the years that followed. She bore the burden of Sister Therese Marie’s illness and death in 1969 and assumed the office of president at her death. During her term as President she encouraged sisters to explore new ways of praying and offered opportunities for 30-day and eight-day directed retreats. With her council she experienced the need for changes in the corporate structure of the hospitals owned and operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph. These institutions, along with Marymount College, were undergoing many changes. And at the end of her term these challenges were handed on to her successor, Sister Bette Moslander.

Christella enjoyed many close relationships during her years as president. She and Sister Edwardine Flavin, general treasurer, worked together on financial matters. But they also enjoyed many humorous moments together. Like the time they went to a wedding at the church and then proceeded to the parish hall for the reception. They saw a nice table near the entrance with flowers and long-stem glasses. They decided that would be a nice place to sit. Along came a woman who humbly asked them to move as they were at the table reserved for the bride and groom. Looking back on her accomplishments Christella said with her characteristic self-deprecation that she increased the size of the cemetery and replaced the old barn with a nice six-car garage.

We all know that she did much more than that! As community leader she was called to this service at a pivotal point in the community’s life. In one of her talks to the community she said: “Religious life is not a static but a dynamic experience. Religious pledge to live a Gospel life, to live it meaningfully in these times and situations.”

Furthermore, it means developing our own freedom and richness in order to “become more ready to reach out to our neighbors as well as to other sisters. This is our way to live out the call to self-sacrificing love.” Radical change was a way of life in the early 1970s. She made sure that all of it was surrounded by and founded in deep prayer and personal sacrifice, not only for herself and the council but within the individual members and local communities. All were consistently called to prayer.

The members underwent total lifestyle changes and the congregation itself adapted to the new world ushered in by the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Every part of the system changed, every department was transformed; the governance structure was redesigned; she paid off loans made for building new hospitals, separately incorporated institutions, disposed of three hospitals owned by local civic communities and bought into Social Security. Through it all she encouraged sisters to tighten their belts and to enter into deep prayer. Loss of members meant loss of income and school closures, fewer sisters to operate the hospitals and other institutions. From the struggle to create a House of Prayer to setting up a retirement fund for elderly and ill members, from visits to the Brazilian mission to all the decisions required to almost instantly modernize religious life, Christella was in the thick of it, encouraging and holding the community together with her ready humor and compassionate care for each person, her belief in the mission and the sisters who lived it. With her leadership, individual sisters and local communities branched out in response to local and national world needs. It was a time of intense growth and as all such times require, the chaos of change and experimentation was managed and used as seed for the coming days. And, in spare moments she visited the sick and buried the dead, increased the institutional capacity to care for the sick and elderly and enlarged the cemetery; purchased dozens of new cars and transformed the barn into a garage.

After leaving office she briefly took up the position of communications director then began looking for a new ministry. She explored the possibility of serving in the L’Arche community founded by Jean Vanier and dedicated to serving mentally and physically challenged persons. She served some 20 years in this ministry holding many and varied positions. As the Regional Coordinator and member of the International Council she traveled over and over again to western Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany, Belgium, Italy, France, Haiti. She, with Jean Vanier, took some of the residents to meet Pope John Paul II who held one of the children on his lap as they talked with him. She was also privileged to visit Trosly, France, where the first L’Arche home was created. Eventually she founded the Heartland L’Arche home in Overland Park, Kansas. She published a book, Flowers from the Ark, recounting many of her experiences with L’Arche residents. One story she loved to tell was of that of Fred, a resident in Tacoma, who was very outgoing. One Sunday the whole Tacoma community went to the Cathedral for a special service at which the Bishop was to preside. Seated on the end of the front row, Fred stepped out of the pew as the Bishop came up the aisle in full regalia, miter and staff, shook his hand and said, “Well, Bishop, I see you have your work clothes on today.” (Flowers from the Ark has recently been published in the Korean language for the L’Arche communities in Korea.)

From L’Arche ministry she once again spent time as Communications Director for the community. However, she was a people person; direct contact was important for her, so once again she looked around and found a new way of being with others. She created a new ministry called the “Joy of Laughter” with the goal of getting people to enjoy laughter and find positive meaning in their lives. She was invited to present her program to over 100 different groups and continued this ministry as long as she was able.

Christella’s life review attests to her life direction — loving, lover, beloved. Love was the central theme of her life. She was intensely sensitive and wore her heart on her sleeve. Easily hurt and distressed by injustice she responded with compassion. We members of her community — and as Michael spoke – you members of her family – all of us were deeply loved by Christella. She said that the people of the L’Arche community stole her heart, but it was taken long before by the many who moved her heart from earliest years. She was a people person and a courageous lover, ready to accompany those whom she judged to be outside the pale, forgive them and move on. She was fun-loving, enjoyed humor, tolerated gladly the stories we told on her, often misunderstood, but formed by suffering into the compassionate presence we all knew and trusted.

Shortly before her last hospitalization she asked me to accompany her on a mini retreat. The theme, she said, would be love. This was an assignment way too high for me; however, with characteristic insight and determination she led me into a sort of life review. Not of her past, but of her present. She wanted to count the people she loved and who loved her – and at the end of each session we would pray paraphrasing a favorite scripture: “May Christ dwell in our hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of our life. Thus, we will be able to grasp fully, with all the holy ones, the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love, and experience this love which surpasses all knowledge, so that we may attain to the fullness of God.” (Adapted from Ephesians 3: 17-19.)

Christella, you now experience fully this love. Thank you for all the many ways you shared it with us over your 94 years.

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

DonateNow 

 

“The Pout-Pout Fish” to be featured book at Reading with Friends

November 5, 2018 by  

Swim along with the pout-pout fish at Neighbor to Neighbor as he discovers that being glum and spreading “dreary wearies” isn’t really his destiny.

Bright ocean colors and playful rhyme come together in Deborah Diesen’s fun fish story, “The Pout-Pout Fish,” that’s sure to turn even the poutiest of frowns upside down.

The book will be read by special guest Suzan Haver.

Story time will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9.

The story times for children 3 to 5 years old are on the second Fridays of the month and all begin at 10 a.m. at Neighbor to Neighbor, 103 E. Sixth St. Each session includes playtime and a snack for the children, plus each child will receive a free copy of that day’s book to take home.

There is a limit of 30 children per session so parents must register in advance. Call Neighbor to Neighbor at 785/262-4215 or email neighbortoneighbor@csjkansas.org.

The monthly program has been a part of Neighbor to Neighbor’s regular offerings since September 2012. The next Reading with Friends events will be Dec. 14.

This year’s Reading with Friends is made possible thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation for Cloud County.

Manna House of Prayer celebrates 40th anniversary

November 2, 2018 by  

Manna House of Prayer celebrated its 40th anniversary on Aug. 26 with an open house for the community. A crowd of about 150 people kept the building buzzing with activity throughout the afternoon.

The tours of the historic building were part of the attraction many visitors, but others stopped by just to chat with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia and to share in the 40th birthday party for the spirituality and retreat center.

“It was a wonderful fellowship of old friends,” said Susan LeDuc, Manna House of Prayer administrative services area coordinator.

For some guests, it was a chance to study the 19th-century architecture of the original Nazareth Convent and Academy.  Others found the artwork scattered throughout the three-story brick structure most fascinating. And for still others it was a chance to remember when the building at Fifth and Olive streets had served a different mission — particularly its time of service as St. Joseph Hospital.

 “Seeing the former delivery and surgical rooms was a big hit,” LeDuc said.

Diane (LeDuc) Nelson, of Concordia, was eager to see the room where she was born on the third floor of the building. She brought along a sign showing her birthdate to take photos in the room.

“This has been fun,” she said as she examined the former birthing room.

Mary Louise Hydorn, of Concordia, also was born in the building.

“I was born here, and my brother and I both had our tonsils taken out here,” she said. “They did things differently back then. I was in a dorm room with 10 to 12 other women. My brother was 5 and I was 6.”

She particularly remembered the elevator.

“I tried to sneak out on the elevator,” she recalled. “But the Sisters stopped me.”

Door Prizes

In addition to tours, refreshments and a video showing some of the history of Manna House, guests were able to sign up for a drawing for door prizes. Winners of the prizes were: Jeanette Kondratieff, Clay Center: quilt; Bob Frasier, Concordia: bowl cozy; Sarah Ganser, Salina, bowl cozy; Joan Fraser, Concordia: tote bag; Shelly Farha, Concordia: jelly gift basket; Tonya Shea, Minneapolis: jelly gift basket; Ina Garrison, Clyde: bobbin Lace cross; Aline Luecke, Concordia: puzzle; Ann Burgess, Salina: puzzle; Noel Garrison, Clyde: puzzle; Rex O’Brien, Hays: puzzle; and Mary McConniel, Belleville: puzzle.

History

The red brick building that is today Manna House was built in 1884 as the first Motherhouse of the newly arrived Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. The building first served as the convent and a boarding school, but as the number of sisters and students grew, it soon became apparent that a bigger building was needed to house Nazareth Convent and Academy.

So in 1903, the new (and still current) Nazareth Motherhouse opened at the corner of 13th and Washington streets, and the sisters converted their old home into St. Joseph Hospital.

An addition to the hospital was built in 1915, and the significantly bigger facility remained a hospital until 1951, when the sisters built what is now Cloud County Health Center.

The sisters converted the building into a nursing home and it served as St. Anne’s Home for the Aged until 1977, when the residents there were able to move to the new Mount Joseph Village on the west edge of Concordia.

Renovations began immediately and in just four months — in April 1978 — the building was dedicated as Manna House of Prayer.

The Manna House program actually began a few years earlier and 14 miles to the east — in September 1972 in the former St. Ann Convent in Clyde. The program remained there until moving to its current site in April 1978.

The founding sisters at the first Manna House were Sister Viatora Solbach, who died in 2011, and Sisters Pat Lewter and Faye Huelsmann.

The mission of Manna House, then and today, is to be a place were people of all faiths come for personal and communal prayer, on-going education, quiet time and counseling. Sisters who live there also provide youth ministry, facilitation services, spiritual direction and counseling.

Numerous sisters have served on the staff at Manna House over the years, and have offered a wide range of workshops, seminars and retreats. While always respecting the underlying mission of Manna House, the sisters and staff there continue to seek new ways to serve as new needs arise.

The Helping Hands program — funded solely from donations — offers emergency assistance to people who have no other resources. Through its small food bank and emergency financial assistance, Helping Hands was able to serve more than 1,000 people last year.

Sisters at Manna House also respond to spiritual hunger, with a wide array of retreats and workshops as well as one-on-one spiritual direction. Throughout the year there are workshops on everything from “seasonal spirituality” and the ancient art of bobbin lacemaking to “meditation and movement” and the meaning and mystery of the rosary.

For information on Manna House and its programs, go to mannahouse.org

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