St. Joseph Orphanage reunion set for April 27

April 18, 2019 by  

ABILENE — Bishop Gerald Vincke will dedicate and bless a new sign memorializing the St. Joseph Orphanage and Home on April 27 at Mt. St. Joseph Cemetery, Abilene.

The unveiling of the new sign will be one of many events planned for the St. Joseph Orphanage and Home reunion planned at the Parish Hall at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Abilene.

The sign was designed by artist Jean Scanlan, a member of St. Michael’s Parish in Chapman. Rawhide Iron Works in Norton constructed the sign. It was installed earlier this spring and will be officially unveiled and dedicated at the event.

Scanlan was on hand to watch the sign being installed. It was the first time she had seen her design recreated onto the metal sign.

“I was a little worried about the steeple,” she said of her artwork. “But it turned out really good!”

“We could never have done this without the help of Brian and Tom Whitehair,” said Sister Carolyn Juenemann, an organizer of the event. “They are on the cemetery committee of St. Andrew’s Parish, which graciously permitted us to install the sign on their land.”

The site of the St. Joseph Orphanage and Home is visible from the sign.

Sister Carolyn’s brother, Mel Juenemann, was the liaison between the Sisters, the artist and the sign company, and delivered the sign to the site.

The St. Joseph Orphanage and Home closed in 1958, so even the youngest surviving orphans are in their 60s now — and most are much older.

“I’ve been contacted by at least six people who lived at the home between the late 1930s and 1958 who are making plans to be at the reunion,” Sister Jan McCormick said, who along with Sister Carolyn, organized the reunion. “We don’t want to lose all their stories. We want to come together to remember this history and the people who were a part of it.”

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia ran the facility for 43 years, from when they opened it in 1915 until it closed in 1958. The building, on the north edge of Abilene, just off Buckeye Avenue, was demolished in 1959.

 

Schedule of events:

  • 9:30 a.m. – Begin gathering at St Andrews, 311 S. Buckeye, Abilene
  • 10 a.m. – Welcome and opening prayer
  • 10:30 a.m. – View DVD
  • 11 a.m. – Sharing and visiting
  • Noon – Meal
  • 1:30 p.m. – Prayer service led by Bishop Gerald Vincke, of the Salina Diocese.

 

Immediately following the prayer service, attendees will travel to Mt. St. Joseph Cemetery for the unveiling, blessing and dedication of the new memorial sign.

“We look forward to seeing many of you again,” said Sister Jan. “We want to spend time sharing, reminiscing, learning and celebrating.”

To RSVP, contact Sister Jan McCormick at janmccormick@rocketmail.com or (785) 479-6795, or contact Sister Carolyn Juenemann at scarolyn@gmail.com. Please visit the St. Joseph Orphanage page on Facebook for more details at https://www.facebook.com/stjosephorphanage.abilene.

There will be no charge for the event and meal, but a free-will offering will be accepted.

 

Crunch for a Cause to help Neighbor to Neighbor

April 16, 2019 by  

Visit Taco John’s in Concordia from 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday, April 29, for Crunch for a Cause to benefit Neighbor to Neighbor in Concordia — a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph!

Be sure to let their staff know when you order that you are supporting Neighbor to Neighbor. And come inside and meet some of the staff and volunteers of Neighbor to Neighbor that night.

Taco John’s will donate 10% of all sales that mention Neighbor to Neighbor to the programs at N2N!!!!!

Creating a greener lifestyle

April 8, 2019 by  

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

Increase vegetarian menus.

 

Friends and family make for another successful Spaghetti Dinner

March 19, 2019 by  

It isn’t just a spaghetti dinner. It’s a family reunion.

The Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia was filled with visitors on Sunday, March 17 — some were family, all were friends, and all enjoying the whirl that is the annual Motherhouse Spaghetti Dinner. In the midst of the prize drawings, silent auction, building tours, bake sale, musical performances and food, one of the most important attractions of this annual event was chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones.

Everywhere you looked you could find reunions. Grandmothers and grandchildren volunteering together; nephews, nieces, uncles and aunts reuniting for dinner; or just friends in the community having a chance to sit down and enjoy a meal together.

The mystery grab bags were a hot item, selling out quickly. Visitors enjoyed selecting from custom-made Easter baskets, visiting the gift shop and picking up homemade baked goods at the bake sale.

The kitchen staff, buoyed by volunteers, served 550 dinners and the event raised about $10,700 to benefit the ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

“What a great turn-out! We are so grateful to everyone who comes out and supports this event,” said President Jean Rosemarynoski, CSJ. “We always look forward to seeing the people, renewing old friendships and making new ones. Everyone helps make it a festive atmosphere. We rely on dozens of volunteers and are very grateful to all those who generously help us!”

Musicians performing were John Paul Breault, Sarah Jeardoe, Sarah Ganser and a trio of Theresa Hernandez with friends Melanie and Joel.

Table decorations were made by volunteers from Neighbor to Neighbor in Concordia.

In the prize drawings, the winners were:

  • $500 — Kelsey Koster, Minneapolis, Kan.
  • $200 cash — Marty Blocker, Hays, Kan.
  • $100 cash — Kelsey Koster, Minneapolis, Kan.
  • Nesco Pressure Cooker — Jim Blecha, Munden, Kan.
  • CharBroil grill — Carol Deters, Harveyville, Kan.
  • Quilt (made by Sisters Betty Suther and Jean Ann Walton) — Father Jim Hoover, Concordia, Kan.
  • $150 Visa gift card — Kelsey Koster, Minneapolis, Kan.
  • KU Basketball tickets —Theresa Brierton, Abilene, Kan.

After the drawing, several in the crowd joked that they wanted to find Kelsey immediately and take her to the casino with them, or at least buy a lottery ticket!

Helping to draw the winning tickets was Jack Gilliland, son of Eric and Ambria Gilliland, of Concordia.

The annual special event is organized by the sisters’ Development Office, with months of work by assistant director of development Ambria Gilliland and assistant Laura Hansen.

“As usual, the dinner was a success,” Gilliland said. “We were able to raise funds for our sisters and many ministries and had a good time doing so! Everything seemed to run smoothly because of our awesome volunteers. We are so grateful for our friends that come out to support us time after time!”

 

Applications now being accepted for 2019 Border Immersion

February 21, 2019 by  

September 9-16, 2019

Join us for a one-week experience that delves into the life and culture on the U.S./Mexico border.

We will see first-hand the struggles of immigrants as we visit shelters, agencies, parish ministries that serve them in El Paso, Texas,  and Juarez, Mexico. Passport required. We will attend Mass in one of the detention centers, which will require filling out individual forms.

This experience is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. In our commitment to Gospel living and nonviolence, we stand in solidarity with undocumented immigrants.

The week-long experience is provided by the Encuentro Project under the direction of Father Rafael Garcia, S.J. We will stay at 1837 Grandview, El Paso, a communal residence and base of the program, home to two Marist Brothers whose community is based at this project. This communal experience requires that participants are in general good health, able to climb stairs, and willing to share a room. We will participate in personal and group reflections and regular community evening prayer.

Participant’s cost: $400/person. Also, participants will be responsible for purchasing their own food as we travel to and from El Paso and will need to purchase their noon meal daily while there. Ground transportation will be provided by Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. It is imperative that applications be received by July 1, 2019.

For more information and/or an application form contact: Sister Anna Marie Broxterman, annacsj@csjkansas.org; 785-554-3829.

To download an application, click the link below.

2019 BorderImmersion

Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia honors employees

February 13, 2019 by  

Nine employees of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia were honored Feb. 12 at the 2019 Employee Appreciation Banquet at the Nazareth Motherhouse.

The annual event drew of a crowd of more than 100 employees, guests and Sisters of St. Joseph to the auditorium in the Nazareth Motherhouse.

The theme of the evening was “Kaleidoscope,” with each beautifully decorated table highlighted with a hand-made kaleidoscope made by Sisters Ramona Medina and Donna Otter with help from volunteers at Neighbor to Neighbor.

Sister Jean Rosemarynoski, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, opened the evening by explaining how the kaleidoscope was invented, and how it has come to symbolize releasing your creativity while seeing yourself in a bigger scope of life.

“It also represents that while you might observe the very same set of basic circumstances, if you turn the kaleidoscope just a little, you can view those circumstances in hundreds of different ways,” Sister Jean said.

She told three stories to illustrate how the employees that work for the Sisters of St. Joseph are resourceful, inclusive and creative.

“And as I’ve told you before, we not only believe, but we know we have Concordia’s finest. We are humbled and grateful that out of all the employers in this area, you have chosen us,” Sister Jean said. “Every single one of you are living examples of kaleidoscopes every day.”

The employees honored, listed with their length of service, are:

Lisa Sorell, 25 years

Cecilia Thrash, 20 years

Greg Gallagher, 10 years

Brenda Dvorak, 10 years

Jane Wahlmeier, 10 years

Eric Tremblay, 5 years

Amanda Wolf, 5 years

Marcia Helton, 5 years

Lyle Pounds, 5 years

In addition to the meal provided by the Nazareth Motherhouse food service staff under the direction of Larry Metro, door prizes were randomly drawn throughout the night.

Also, a lucky employee or guest got to take home the hand-made kaleidoscope on each table.

“They gave me the idea, the theme, and just let us do it,” Sister Ramona said. “We used Pringles cans (for the body of the kaleidoscopes). We ate a lot of Pringles for a while.”

The Sisters of St. Joseph have about 70 employees in Concordia, working at the Nazareth Motherhouse, Manna House of Prayer and the CSJ Administrative Center at 215 Court St.

The Long Struggle to Desegregate Catholic America

February 1, 2019 by  

Speaker: Dr. Shannen Dee Williams, PhD

July 18-21, 2019

The 2019 Theological Institute will deal directly with the reality of racism. We will explore how white people have learned to rationalize ourselves into being nonracist while actually being racist. We also hope to expose the evil within and among us and begin to expunge it from our language, attitudes and cultural mores. Because racism is an evil with which we subtly cooperate we will weave into our days with Dr. Williams discerning processes through which we might begin to invite God to change us into the inclusive Christian body we are meant to be. Thursday, 5 p.m. – Sunday, noon meal. Cost: $325.
To make reservations: email retreatcenter@mannahouse.org, visit www.mannahouse.org or call 785-243-4428

News from Sister Judy Stephens volunteering on the border

January 3, 2019 by  

ICE has asked volunteer agencies on the border for more volunteers to help with the current situation. Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, issued the original desperate call for volunteers. As are shelters in other cities. LCWR (Leadership Conference for Women Religious) sent out a call to all religious congregations with information about volunteering in major cities with shelters there. Our leadership team at Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia sent all of our sisters an invitation to volunteer if they could. Sister Judy Stephens and several lay people have responded. We will be sharing her experiences in El Paso.

“Day 2: Greetings! Want to tell you a little about today. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) brought 2 buses of released refugees. Unannounced. The first arrived right before dinner with 43 people. The pizza we expected didn’t arrive for dinner but came tonight!! The refrigerator is full of sandwiches so no problem.
Then began the serious work: some volunteers took down their names & and where they were going in the U.S. for their appointment with an immigration judge. And with which relative were they going to stay. Then the volunteer would call the relative and explain how they could buy a bus ticket or plane fare so they could travel there. Ana and Maria did that work endlessly. Last eve Ana took the four phones used for these calls to her room and still had to answer some. We were short of a site leader today and enough volunteers. After dinner the second bus arrived with another 20 some folk. But thank God, more good volunteers came in. So with those already here we probably have 100 and all available rooms filled.
I was trained in taking folks to bus station and two trips to airport. It’s tricky b/c most folks have to transfer. So You have to make sure they understand. My last trip was a 23 yr old woman carrying a nursing baby and a small son and her duffle bag. Going to Houston, changing planes. She was so brave.
On top of all this we woke up to several inches of snow. Mountains gorgeous but too cold for arriving folks and us!
One last story. A young man and his small son entered by crossing the Rio Grande walking across the river where it’s shallow. They arrived here still wet to their knees after two days. Most children are coughing and some adults as well.
All in all it is a powerful experience.
Enough for now.
Hope all of you are well.”
Sister Judy

Jan. 3, 2019

Several of you have asked how Sister Judy Stephens and the laypeople volunteers who went with her are doing at the border. As you may recall, ICE requested that the volunteer agencies in El Paso increase their volunteers, and Sister Judy and her friends responded to the call. She has been very busy, but took time to write very late last night to let us know about her status. I will be breaking this into several sections today.
Now …. in Sister Judy’s words:

Jaime from Chaparral. Brings in meals for the families on certain days. Beans, rice and chili — delicious!

Days have passed since I wrote. Both the weekend and the New Year were slim with staff and volunteers. And every day ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) brought a bus load. The smallest was 29. So, it has been busy and a bit intense.

In addition, most small children have colds, coughs and sometimes fever. Sister Mary Kay Meagher is the nurse on duty on first shift. All she has are OTC medications, but she evaluates well what needs to be done. Yesterday she sent a two-year-old child with her parents to Providence Hospital ER. She was examined thoroughly and eventually able to go home. And doing fine today.

She and her parents came from Nicaragua. They said that the situation in Nicaragua is serious. The Ortega family has a strict hold on the country and if you register resistance or non-agreement, you are labeled a terrorist and imprisoned — or found dead in the ditch somewhere. They spent at least five days in detention — men in one facility, women and children in another. The men slept side-by-side on the floor in a small room. Some had to sit and wait their turn for space. The bathroom was in a corner of the same room. Can you imagine?

More from Jan. 3, 2019

Sisters Kathy and Margie, School Sisters of St Francis from Milwaukee. Come at 7 a.m. every morning and fix breakfast.

One night we took Cindy and her one-year-old daughter to the airport to leave on a 5 a.m. flight. En route she told us she and her daughter left Honduras with her 9-year-old old brother on Nov. 8 with the Caravan. At some point they separated out and came to the border at El Paso. At that point, Immigration separated her from her brother and she has not heard from him since.

Our group of volunteers is really good. There are least six sisters of different congregations. There are two older Franciscans Sisters who have the breakfast routine down to perfection! Neither can hear very well, so they are fun to be around. A Maryknoll Sister was sick yesterday and will probably need to go stay with her sisters here in town for awhile.

I help wherever needed, but mostly driving folks to Greyhound bus station and the airport. I always accompany them to get their tickets, pass through Immigration and security. And TRY to tell them how to transfer to another flight or bus the best I can. I can tell some of them have probably never (or rarely) even ridden in a car! Much less flown in an airplane!! 

I’ve been having a recurring reflection I would like to try to describe. It’s about the life we are able to live here in the United States and those who are forced to live at the survival level. This has been most visible at the airport — to see the clothing, the styles, the luggage people have including flying with their pets in lap. I can tell you the folks we travel with are a striking contrast!

In addition there’s been a cloud hanging over us that the administration is planning to make some big decision that’s going to affect everyone. We’ll keep watching.
Thanks for your prayerful support. We surely feel it.

Sister Mary Kay Meagher, Notre Dame from Omaha (left) — my faithful daily guide! Except she leaves tomorrow! Sister Judy Stephens (right)

Jan. 5, 2019

 

Greetings. A short email update that includes my family!  

On Thursday, we received 27 people. That evening on the news there was a large section on Annunciation House.  Ruben explained that they were at capacity in the 11 (or 14?) shelters he oversees, and that if he doesn’t receive more volunteers he will need to close some of them. 

Also absolutely remarkable is the generosity of the local El Pasoans —they supply all the meals three times a day. Churches, groups, even restaurants!  We’ve certainly been well fed.

On Friday, we received 45 more, so things were really busy. In the middle of it THE MAYOR’S WIFE showed up with a cameraman. She was here for a long time playing with the children and visiting. And being filmed. Of course we had to call Ruben to see if that was okay. He said yes, but that the children’s faces had to be blurred. Apparently she came in order to give support and to seek help. 

Another busload came again today. There’s another child in the hospital now with dehydration and malnutrition. They have bus tickets to Colorado this evening. Hope they are able to go. 

I’m still thinking about the survival level folks come on and how that has to shift our priorities if we are going to get anywhere.
Blessings to all of you … Judy

Jan. 9, 2019

What’s happening?? ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) hasn’t brought a single bus load of folks since Sunday! Maybe it’s because of Trump’s address last night? Or maybe because he’s visiting the border at McAllen today and they want to keep things quiet and hidden? Who knows?
Last night Annunciation House closed one of the motel shelters and brought three families here. So we probably have 25 to 30 folks now.
 
Well, things change quickly. While writing this, a phone call from Annunciation House told us ICE was bringing 35 refugees today sometime.
 
There are fine volunteers here. Besides the four of us, there are six or seven IHM Sisters and Associates here from Monroe, Michigan. We are divided between the two shifts. Later I’ll post pictures of them.
 
So many precious children here! They are amazingly friendly. And how they love to play. I’d sure like to take their pictures! (Not allowed, of course!)
 
Jan. 11, 2019
 
It’s hard to believe that this is our last day of being here. You quickly begin to feel a part of the flow of things. As unpredictable and fluid as they are!
In Ruben Garcia’s last press conference from Annunciation House a couple days ago, he announced that ‘the surge was over,’ and that he was closing two shelters and next week the shelter where we are would be closed.
 
BUT … last eve we got word that we and the other shelters still open would receive 100 people today! So we are getting ready it will be an exciting day.
 
Several children have arrived with suspected chicken pox and we had to quarantine them until a volunteer pediatrician came to check them out. Both children were okay and able to travel.
 
With Trump’s televised address and visit to the border yesterday, it’s hard to sort out what is happening on the ground. How does Ruben know the ‘surge’ is over? Is ICE (Immigration) holding folks longer in detention? Or is Border Patrol going to again refuse folks to enter and request asylum? It’s hard to know. We volunteers continue to wonder and discuss.
 
My gratitude for being here is huge. I am so grateful for the invitation, the call to come here. I am so grateful to my congregation, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas, for their prayer and support. I’m most grateful for Maria Fernanda, Ana and Jason for coming with me and serving by my side.
 
My deep gratitude for the prayer and support of my friends and my family!
 
Blessings on your day.
Sister Judy

How to help

For those of you asking how to make a donation or volunteer, please contact Ruben Garcia at Annunciation House. He has three or four permanent shelters and another 11 temporary shelters like the one I live and work in. He has done this work for over 40 years now. Here is the information:

Annunciation House
815 Myrtle Avenue
El Paso, TX 79901
Phone:  915-533-4675/ 915-545/4509
www.annunciationhouse.org

While on the website you can see press conferences previously held.

 

Santa is a special guest at Neighbor to Neighbor

December 20, 2018 by  

Neighbor to Neighbor’s annual Christmas party wasn’t complete until Santa Claus himself showed up and gave out presents to all of the N2N kids.

Every year the Sisters, staff and volunteers at Neighbor to Neighbor host a Christmas party for all of the women and children who regularly visit. This year’s party began at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, with a special lunch and dessert for all.

The women were able to guess the number of candies in a candy jar to win it. Gloria Berkstrom was the lucky winner.

The kids ate lunch upstairs, but they were anxious to see Santa. As soon as he arrived he was asked, “Who is your favorite reindeer?”

St. Nick laughed and said, “Well I can’t tell you that. They get jealous.”

Every child got a chance to sit on Santa’s lap and received a present wrapped in a fabric bag made by Myrna Shelton, Sister Ramona Medina and Vicki Menard.

One present started to vibrate and make noises as he handed it to Andrew Crosson, 4, of Concordia.

“Wow!” Santa exclaimed. “That even scared Santa!”

“He was a wonderful Santa,” Sister Jean Befort said after Ol’ Saint Nick disappeared in a twinkle.

Neighbor to Neighbor is a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia located at 103 E. Sixth St., Concordia.

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.”

 

 

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