Annual Pumpkin Patch set this weekend

October 17, 2019 by  

That hint of chill in the night air can only mean one thing — it’s almost time for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia’s annual Pumpkin Patch. This year’s family-friendly event will be from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19 and Sunday, Oct. 20.

Last year, scores of little kids — with parents, grandparents and older siblings tagging along — flooded onto the Motherhouse grounds to become bean bag-tossers, corn pile diggers, hay rack riders and pumpkin bowlers.

And of course many took advantage of all the fun fall photo opportunities!

The entrance will be at the east gate (between the Motherhouse and the Concordia Community Garden of Hope), and admission costs $3 per person, with kids 2 and younger free.

Returning for a fifth year will be the popular hay ride around the Motherhouse grounds, as well as the corn pile, hay stack slide, pumpkin bowling, games, a scavenger hunt and other kids’ activities.

New this year will be a free door prize drawing for a fun but spooky yard/porch decoration perfect for Halloween. You do not need to be present to win, but you do have to be able to pick it up. The winner will be drawn at the end of the day on Sunday.

Kids are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes as they take part in the fun.

The event is organized by Ambria Gilliland, the Sisters of St. Joseph assistant development director, with lots of other staff members and volunteers lending a hand. Come join the fun and enjoy the beautiful grounds!

For more information, email agilliland@csjkansas.org or call      (785) 243-2113 ext. 1225.

Eulogy for Sister Geraldine Kokenge — Feb. 26, 1928 – Oct. 14, 2019

October 16, 2019 by  

Vigil: Oct. 16, 2019 at the Nazareth Motherhouse
Eulogist: Sister Marilyn Wall

Sister Geraldine Mary Ann Kokenge was born on Feb. 26, 1928, in the midst of a dust storm. Her parents were Lawrence Kokenge and Frances Rosa Rallinger. She was the second oldest child and the first daughter. Her siblings were Raymond, the older brother, and three younger children, Helen, Elmer and Lorine (Peggy). Raymond and Helen preceded her in death. Elmer and Peggy, as well as numerous nieces and nephews, survive.

The family lived in the country near St Benedict, Kan., with their grandparents until Gerry was three years old. They then moved to Seneca where her dad was employed as a mechanic. Gerry attended Sts. Peter and Paul grade school. She said her early years were very difficult. She was a tall child and was seated in the back of the classroom. She was not able to see the blackboard so missed a lot of what was taught. She enjoyed playing with the neighborhood children. The family lived on the edge of town and had a lot of fruit trees and a large garden. She watched and helped her mother preserve the produce for winter. No doubt she began her cooking career there. Even in the last few years she would talk about the two pear trees they had and how the children did not like to eat them because they were gritty. Finally, her mother started making pear butter and that made eating them so much easier.

After graduating from high school, Gerry got a job at the Seneca Hospital. There she worked with Sr. Matthew Vopat who, Gerry says, was an influence in her vocation.

Gerry entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on Feb. 3, 1947, along with Sister Ann Catherine Wiltz who was from Sabetha, Kan. She entered the Novitiate in August of 1947 and received the name of Sister Mary Justina. Her first profession was in August of 1948 and Final Vows were in August of 1951.

Sister Gerry’s main ministry in the community was in the kitchens of many missions and schools. She has remarked “Every place I went I enjoyed.”

Gerry considered herself most fortunate in that as a young sister Sister Maxine Lutgen was her mentor in the Motherhouse kitchen teaching her how to cook and bake. Gerry especially remembers Sister Maxine showing her how to make the 30 to 40 loaves of bread that were needed for the Motherhouse Community.

In her own words: “We would mix all of the ingredients together except the flour … making a “sponge” and waiting for it to bubble – then we added the flour and kneaded and formed balls of dough which would then rise in the pans til ready for the oven.” Gerry has also told me this procedure several times in the past years, and every time I hear it I think: “Isn’t this just like the presence and patience of our Creator God?”

Sister Maxine set her up for her many years of cooking and baking and Gerry always spoke of her with the utmost esteem and gratitude.

Further assignments took her to many places in Salina, Kansas: St John’s Hospital, Marymount College, St. Mary’s Convent and Sacred Heart Cathedral School and rectory and Sacred Heart Junior-Senior High School. She served in many other places including Schoenchen, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Concordia, Grand Island, Neb., Oakley Kan., and Junction City Kan.

Sister Marcia Allen, who lived with Gerry in Junction City, said that “wherever she served, Sister Gerry’s loving nourishment added greatly to the quality of community life of the Sisters. Three meals a day for 20-some people might by some people be called drudgery, but Gerry’s ready and generous spirit never hinted at the burdens that might have accompanied her work. Her meals were delicious and nourishing and served with a spirit of hospitality. For us, she was the yeast of which Jesus spoke.”

One of Gerry’s last ministries as a cook was Central High School in Salina, which she enjoyed and became good friends with many of those working with her. There, she noted, one had to follow strict State guidelines. At one point the cooks were perplexed because the students were not eating their chili well. Gerry asked if she could add a bit of sugar to the recipe to bring out the flavor. It helped a lot and they even got the recipe changed by the State. Gerry also cooked at Kansas Weselyan College and loved the interaction and joking with the students, about 1500, who attended school there. They were especially fond of her biscuits and gravy. Gerry’s humor was always evident and enjoyed by all with whom she worked.

In all of her years of ministry Sister Gerry lit up when she spoke of her ministry of cooking and one sensed the joy she found in preparing meals for others.

In thinking about Sister Gerry and her ministry one realizes how her ministry colored her spirituality, and that as she prepared leavened bread, she also became leaven for those whom she served and loved.

Sister Joyce Rupp has a lovely reflection on being a handful of dough and being asked by God to be leaven for a whole batch of people so that faith will rise in hearts. As the dough is kneaded and formed beyond its expectations so we are shaped by daily dyings to self so that God can be our rising strength and we can love enough to be shared.

In 2000, Sister Gerry moved to Medialle Center in Salina. During her time there she volunteered at the Senior Citizen Center and at the public school and began to do tole painting. She painted on baskets and wooden objects and discovered, by surprise, that she was really a very good artist. When Medialle closed in 2006 she moved to the Motherhouse. There she visited Mount Joseph and did helpful works around the Motherhouse. She painted many items and some were sold in the gift shop here.

Gerry moved to Mount Joseph in January of 2018. She lived out the rest of her life there and left us on Oct. 14, 2019.

Gerry, we believe that you have risen with Jesus.

We believe that you know now the whole story of God’s incredible love for you.

We trust that you are celebrating with those who have gone before you,

But we will expect your presence and help here also.

As you are now with God, in a new way, your presence is God’s presence.

 

Memorials for Sister Geraldine Kokenge 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 Geraldine Kokenge’s memory, click on the button below:

DonateNow 

 

 

 

Sister Nancy Meade — Dec. 10, 1938-Oct. 14, 2019

October 14, 2019 by  

Sister Nancy Meade died Oct. 14, 2019, at Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia, Kan. She was 80 years old and a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia for 60 years.

She was born in Abilene, Kan, on Dec. 10, 1938, to Cornelius and Minnie Lake Meade, the youngest of six children, and was baptized Nancy Helen. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia on Sept. 8, 1958. On March 18, 1959, Nancy received the habit of the Sisters of St. Joseph and was given the name Sister Marie Cecile, later changing back to her baptismal name. She pronounced first vows on March 19, 1960, and final vows on March 19, 1963.

Sister Nancy received a B.M.Ed. in music education in 1967; followed by a M.M.Ed. in music education in 1972 from the University of Colorado. This was followed by a B.F.A. in theater from Stephen’s College in Columbia, Mo., in 1982. She taught in schools staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Aurora, Ill., Gladstone, Mich., Boonville, Mo., and Silver City, N.M. After retirement she moved to the Motherhouse in 2014.

Sister Nancy was preceded in death by her parents, three brothers and two sisters. A Bible Vigil Service will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 17, 2019, in the Nazareth Motherhouse Chapel with Sister Faye Huelsmann as the eulogist. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 18, 2019, in the Motherhouse Chapel with Father Barry Brinkman presiding. The internment of cremains will be in the Nazareth Motherhouse Cemetery.

Chaput-Buoy Mortuary, 325 W. Sixth St., Concordia, Kan., is in charge of arrangements. Memorials for Sister Nancy Meade 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, Kan., 66901.

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

DonateNow 

 

Creating a greener lifestyle

October 14, 2019 by  

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

Plant a tree.

 

Panther Pride Garden Club visits Motherhouse garden

September 27, 2019 by  

Friday, Sept. 27, was a beautiful morning for a school field trip. Surrounded by hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, the Panther Pride Garden Club explored the Nazareth Motherhouse organic garden.

This is the first year for the club, said Kristen Peltier, first grade teacher and club advisor at Concordia Elementary School. The members range from kindergarten to fourth grade.

Lyle Pounds, the organic gardener for the Motherhouse, greeted the kids and put them to work as they toured the garden.

Pounds played a guessing game with them where they identified fresh-picked beets, turnips and cucumbers, before sharing a little bit about the organic part of the garden.

“This has been a garden spot for over 100 years,” Pounds said. “This ground is so fertile. It hasn’t rained for a few days, but you can see the ground is still moist from all the organic matter in it.”

He showed the kids a trench filled with kitchen scraps running down a row in between rows of vegetables and zinnias.

“It looks like garbage, but its compost,” Pounds explained. “These are all scraps from the kitchen. Instead of having one giant compost pile, it goes into a row and is covered up. Next year we’ll plant vegetables there. It’s just like fertilizer.”

Pounds explained to the group that the sisters like to keep the garden organic, which means avoiding chemical fertilizers and bug sprays.

Then it was time to get to work. Pounds let them get their hands dirty harvesting radishes, green bell peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes and peanuts. They even picked a watermelon.

“The peanuts are normally a southern crop,” Pounds said as the kids plucked them off the roots of the plant. “This will be a meal for the squirrels in the wintertime.”

Many of the crops grown were for the benefit of the wildlife. Sunflowers will be used for seed for the birds, the zinnias attract the butterflies and hummingbirds, and one of the highlights of the trip was seeing all the black swallowtail caterpillars on a big bunch of fennel.

The group left with some of the harvest that they had picked, a plate of cookies from the Motherhouse kitchen, and a better knowledge of organic gardening.

Snake meets farm in this month’s Reading with Friends book

September 20, 2019 by  

A class field trip to a local farm sounds like a pretty nice time … that is until one of the kids sneaks in his pet snake — a giant boa constrictor!

Find out more about this zany trip during October’s Reading with Friends, where the book of the month will be “The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash” by Trinka Hakes Noble with illustrations by Steven Kellogg.

What starts as a ho-hum visit to a farm ends in a wild free-for-all when Jimmy’s pet boa constrictor decides to mingle with barnyard society. The book will be read by special guest reader Sister Jodi Creten.

Story time will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 11 at Neighbor to Neighbor.

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.

International Day of Peace celebration Sept. 22

September 20, 2019 by  

The annual International Day of Peace will be celebrated locally from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at the Nazareth Motherhouse auditorium, 1300 Washington, in Concordia.

The non-denominational event will feature fellowship, conversations, prayer, thought-provoking discussions and international refreshments. It is free and open to the public. Please park in the parking lot on the east side of the Motherhouse.

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations. It is traditionally celebrated on September 21.

This year’s theme is “Climate Action for Peace.” The theme focuses on the use of combatting climate change as a way to protect and promote peace worldwide.

Earlier this week, the City of Concordia proclaimed Sept. 21 as the International Day of Peace. Sister Christina Brodie and Pastor Bob Frasier, First Presbyterian Church, were on hand during the City Council meeting for the proclamation.

“The purpose of these events is to support the UN global initiatives on living a more sustainable life. We thought this year we would focus on how each one of us in Concordia can make a difference in how we live to minimize conspicuous waste,” Sister Christina said. “For example, in the world of horrific excess plastic waste, we as individuals can make a difference by using a refillable cup instead of purchasing plastic bottles, particularly for individual consumption. For example, in Canada, many of our sisters’ residences do not purchase plastic bottles nor allow them in their residences. We all as individuals can do our part to make this a better world for future generations.”

“I’ve been thinking about what happens to all the things we recycle, especially plastics. Some of the answers I’ve found so far are shocking and quite unbelievable,” Sister Judy Stephens said.  “There is so much plastic floating in our oceans that it is called ‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch!’”

Sister Judy said that while researching the issue, she found statistics that show that currently more than 300 million tons of new plastic is produced annually, and less than 10 percent is recycled.

The United Nations calls upon all individuals to take action to tackle climate change — from turning off the lights to taking public transport, to organizing an awareness raising campaign in your community.

Sister Sarah Ganser professes vows as a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia

September 18, 2019 by  

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia celebrated Sister Sarah Ganser’s Ceremony of Religious Profession on Sept. 8 in the Sacred Heart Chapel of the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia.

“Words cannot describe my gratitude for the support and ongoing love on my journey to becoming a Sister of St. Joseph,” Sister Sarah said. “Every person has impacted me at different times of the journey in short or long moments. Truthfully, I would not be at this junction without those encounters.”

“This grace and presence of God was not just through personal encounters of the divine, but also in my relationships or music. My heart sings with joy and gratitude to God who placed the many small, hidden gifts of relationships that will sustain me in walking as a Sister of St. Joseph.”

Sister Anna Marie Broxterman welcomed everyone to the celebration.

“Sarah is an answer to a prayer,” Sister Anna Marie said. “I’ve known Sarah since she was a teenager. Today Sarah is ready to take this leap of faith, as we, as sisters, promise to be there to support her.”

Father Greg Hammes and Father Barry Brinkman presided at the mass.

“Sarah was always special,” Father Greg said. “Jesus calls us to love all people — to love them as He loves them. That’s what it means to be a disciple, and that’s what it means to be a Sister of St. Joseph.”

“I say ‘yes’ to God’s call. We’re all called to do that. To do what God wants takes a lot of effort, humility and trust,” Father Greg said. “Thank you, Sarah, for saying ‘yes’ to Jesus.”

Music was provided by Sarah Jeardoe, Jane Wahlmeier, Teresa Hernandez and Anna Ramierez.

Congregation President Sister Jean Rosemarynoski led Sarah through her Profession of Commitment and signing of the Document of Profession. Then, with the assistance of her mentors, Sisters Missy Ljungdahl and Pat Eichner, she received her ceremonial cross and ring along with a blessing from all of the gathered sisters of the Community.

Sister Sarah currently lives in Salina, Kan., and works at Mental Health of East Central Kansas as an outpatient therapist. Her ministry is as a therapist and social worker, and her special love is working with children in schools.

“It’s been a rocky road, but a good road too,” Sister Sarah said about her journey. “I had to confront my misconceptions about myself and how I see God.”

After many years discerning her path — would it be family and children or a call to religious life — she finally found and answered her personal calling.

“It works so well for me because our charism (Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia) is an inclusive love,” Sister Sarah said. “It’s been so freeing to not be afraid to talk about spirituality if someone is open to it. So much is interwoven.”

“I’m just excited,” Sister Sarah said about her commitment. “At first I said ‘no,’ … but God said ‘yes.’ I was won over by His persistent love.”

 

Reading with Friends returns in September with Pete the Cat and Toby Nosker

August 13, 2019 by  

September’s book for Reading with Friends will be “Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses” by Kimberly and James Dean.

“Pete the Cat wakes up feeling grumpy — nothing seems to be going his way. But with the help of some Rockin’ Magic Sunglasses from Grumpy Toad, Pete learns that a good mood has been inside him all along.”

The book will be read by special guest Toby Nosker of NCK Today.

Story time will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 13.

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.

 

From volunteer to vows

August 13, 2019 by  

Sister Christina Brodie made her final Profession of Lifelong Vows as a canonical Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia at 4 p.m. Aug. 2, 2019, in the Sacred Heart Chapel in the Nazareth Motherhouse surrounded by family members from across the country, sisters and friends.

The theme of her celebration of profession was “With One Desire Only,” based on Maxim 73: “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.”

Sister Christina’s path to making her final vows was a long one, with many unexpected twists.

“Seven years ago I arrived in Concordia as a volunteer to help start a new ministry for the Sisters of St. Joseph,” Sister Christina said. “Prior to arriving, the sisters had spent three years on a task force researching rural poverty in the region and exploring programs that could be adapted for this new ministry.”

She applied for a full-time volunteer position, as the coordinator of the then-new Hands Across Our Community program.

“Hands Across Our Community is a ministry that would not give a hand out, but a hand up through mentoring families and individuals through education … helping people learn how to create a better life for themselves and their children through budgeting, obtaining jobs, nutrition, child development, cooking healthy and inexpensively and many other topics as well,” Sister Christina said of the ministry she continues to coordinate.

After applying for the volunteer position, she visited Concordia in October 2012. It was her first time visiting Kansas.

“The first day I came was Oct. 15, which is our Founder’s Day. I spent a week here, and attended a forum where I met all of the social service providers in the community,” Sister Christina said. “When I left, I knew in my heart I had found home.”

Within a month, she had moved to Concordia, was living with Sisters of St. Joseph at Manna House of Prayer — and had become a candidate for membership in the congregation.

“It was a God thing,” Sister Christina said. “God led me here.”

In June 2015, she was received into the congregation as a novice — and then would spend from August to May 2016 in the Sisters of St. Joseph Federation Novitiate, studying and living with four other novices from the U.S. and Canada. On June 11, 2016, she made her initial vows into the community.

An unusual journey

Sister Christina is a native New Yorker who says she “fell into advertising” as a career. After graduating from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, with a degree in history and communications, she went to work for the New York ad agency Lowe Marschalk. By 28, she was the youngest vice president in the company.

She had married while in college, and in 1986 her son Christopher was born. Then, although still working the long hours required of an ad executive on the rise, her priorities began to change, she said: “My guilt-ridden Italian-Catholic kicked in; I realized I didn’t ever see my son.”

It was also during that time that her marriage ended, and she petitioned for and received an annulment through the Church.

With the hope of finding a slower-paced life, she quit her job and moved her toddler son and mother to Florida. Then she returned to work, for McFarland & Drier Miami, and later with Office Depot as the vice president of advertising at its world headquarters in Delray Beach, Fla.

In 2006, she returned to New York and a position as partner and group planning director with Maxus Global, a part of the GroupM media agency network.

She also began attending Manhattan’s St. Francis of Assisi Church and in time joined the Third Order of St. Francis, a fraternity of Catholic men and women often called Secular Franciscans.

After a handful of years with Maxus Global, Sister Christina realized it was time for another change — and this one might very well be the most dramatic so far. First she returned to Florida but remained with the New York City agency by “telecommuting.”

Then she developed a plan to pay off all her debt and divest herself of all but the most basic belongings.

When she was finally ready — with only the possessions that would fit in her car — she started searching the Catholic Volunteer Network for a full-time position where she could live as part of a religious community.

And that’s when she found the ad for the Sisters of St. Joseph Concordia, and now she is the newest sister to profess her final vows.

Sister Christina professed her vows accompanied by Sister and President Jean Rosemarynoski, CSJ. Sister Jean bestowed the ceremonial ring and cross upon her during a ceremony during the Mass. Father Jim Dallen offered a special blessing of Sister Christina at the end of the service. Music was provided by Sisters Bethy Suther and Dian Hall and Teresa Hernandez and CSJ candidate Sarah Ganser.

When asked if she had any regrets, she quickly answered, “None. These are the best years of my life, besides raising my son.”

“I’ve never felt so overjoyed with how my life has evolved,” Sister Christina said. “It is beyond amazing.”

“I want to thank my family, friends and my Community for all their love and support. And most of all, I would like to thank my mother, Annie, for all the love, support and nurturing along this amazing journey,” Sister Christina said.

 

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