Reading with Friends set for May 14

May 6, 2021 by  

Reading with Friends at Neighbor to Neighbor will be both in person and as a Facebook Live event on May 14.

May’s book will be “How to Babysit a Grandma” written by Jean Reagan and illustrated by Lee Wildish. This New York Times bestseller is sure to be a great book to share over and over again.

This month’s guest reader will be Tonya Merrill.

Pre-registration is required to come to the live event at Neighbor to Neighbor, and masks are required in the building. Pre-registration also is required to pick up a free book in advance. However, the video will be free for anyone to watch on Neighbor to Neighbor’s Facebook page. www.facebook.com/N2NConcordia

Story time will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, May 14. The video will stay on the Facebook page after the reading for anyone to enjoy later, in case they can’t make it at 10 a.m.

Sister Missy Ljungdahl, director of Neighbor to Neighbor, said the first 25 children to pre-register will be able to pick up a copy of the book whether the child is attending in person or online (one per family).

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. To register, 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. Neighbor to Neighbor is located at 103 E. 6th St. in downtown Concordia.

Creating a greener lifestyle

May 3, 2021 by  

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

 

Before purchasing an item, ask yourself, “Is this a want or a need?”

 

Living a Life of Giving

April 26, 2021 by  

Sister Susan Stoeber, a life-long career nurse, may have retired from nursing … but she hasn’t retired from helping people and bringing joy to people’s lives.

Sister Susan is well-known in the area from her 45 years as a nurse at the local hospital, now known as Cloud County Health Center, in Concordia. But she hasn’t let retirement from her career slow her down from giving back to the community and making people happy.

These days she works a few days at the Nazareth Motherhouse, maintaining a supply center of over-the-counter medications, personal hygiene supplies and other basic necessities and special requests for the sisters. She said she followed in the footsteps of Sister Charlotte Lutgen, also a retired nurse, who took care of purchasing and distributing supplies for the sisters for years. When Sister Charlotte retired, Sister Susan took over in about 2017.

“I do shopping, restocking and distributing. The sisters fill out slips and then I pick up the orders,” Sister Susan said. “Sister Charlotte continued to help as long as she could.”
But many people know Sister Susan for what she does when she’s not working — crocheting whimsical animals that are always in demand.
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Sister Susan with some of her creations.

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“I worked 45 years at the hospital here in town (Concordia). After graduation I started here and I stayed here,” Sister Susan said. “When I started as a nurse we didn’t have an intensive care unit, so I worked the MedSurg floor. That’s short for Medical Surgical floor. I graduated in 1970, and we got our Intensive Care Unit on the third floor in 1972 or ‘73, and then I was educated for that and that’s where I worked the entire time until things changed with technology and I started working between the two.”

She said she was always excited about medical advancements.

“We were a small hospital, but some of the new doctors there started new procedures, and that was exciting, and we got a lot of post surgical patients,” she said. “I saw a lot of changes between now and then.”

Retirement was a change.

“I miss it, that was all I knew.”

She said she had hoped to make it 50 years in her career, but with the changes in computer requirements it became too difficult to take care of patients and handle the technology.

Crocheting to help others

Another way Sister Susan is known in the area is for her crocheted animals. Thanks to her roommates she had as a nurse in Concordia, she learned to crochet and advance her skills.

Sister Susan lived with Sister Leah Smith and Sister Jackie Kircher since the 1980s. They are both now deceased.

Sister Leah taught her how to crochet and how to make rosaries — both of which she continues to do. Some of her rosaries and many of her stuffed animals can be found in the Nazareth Motherhouse Gift Shop.

“It keeps me busy. I have to be busy all the time,” she said.

Sister Susan said she started out finding patterns on Pinterest. If it is something simple like a small teddy bear she’s made before, she can make one in a day or two. If it is more complicated … well that depends.

“Now if it’s a new pattern and big, it can take a long time,” she pulled out an intricate, large stuffed alpaca. “This took me forever. The first try was real difficult. The second one I tried probably took me a week to make.”

Other popular designs she has made were baskets with baby dolls with a full wardrobe of crocheted clothes, various species of dinosaurs, and a crocheted ‘Baby Yoda.’
Her designs are usually at the Motherhouse Gift Shop, but she’s also shared them with Neighbor to Neighbor for their annual Holiday Boutique.

“I make a lot for N2N. Last year we had a little truck that one of the guys did and I made all of the little animals that went in the back.”

She has a dinosaur grouping planned for the next time N2N can host one of their events in person.

Sister Susan also does custom orders, including a group of 15 honey bees for a girls’ sports team.

“One girl asked me if I’d ever made a Baby Yoda. I said, no, but if I can find a pattern I will. So I made her a Baby Yoda,” she said. “If they come up to me and make a request I will try to do it.”

Her Baby Yodas have been a best seller in the gift shop and at the annual plant sale.

She also donates her work to charity.

“I called the Cloud County Resource Center one year and asked if she’d want a bunch of the small teddy bears and she was tickled pink. I took them two tubs of stuff to give to their Christmas programs,” she said. “This year I asked and they weren’t doing it due to Covid, so I took them to Neighbor to Neighbor and they gave it to all the kids for their Christmas packages.”

Currently she’s working on a bunch of teddy bears for a group in Lindsborg that is sending baskets to kids in need overseas.

Managing supplies

When she’s not crocheting, or helping out driving sisters to appointments, she manages the supplies. She said she tries to keep the shopping to once a week, but there has been more demand since more sisters have returned to the Motherhouse.

But the job has its benefits.

“The best thing about coming here and having this position is getting to know the sisters, because, as a nurse, you don’t get involved in the Motherhouse stuff a lot. I didn’t even come to a lot of the meetings, because of work. So getting to know the older sisters personally means a lot to me,” she said. “And I think that is the best part about this job.”

Prayers on Wheels

April 26, 2021 by  

Sister Janet LeDuc enjoys a fulfilling, yet difficult, ministry as a Hospice minister for Meadowlark Hospice, headquartered in Clay Center, Kansas.

“I love what I do. My goal, if I can do nothing else, I’d like to be a healing presence of compassion and care that can let people know that God loves them very much on their journey. And he is truly with them,” Sister Janet said.

Sister Janet has devoted her life to a ministry in health care. She entered the health care profession as a nurse in 1968, and became a certified hospital chaplain in 1978.

“And then I went back to study holistic health. In that experience I really found the love for working with the aging, the sick and the dying,” Sister Janet said. “And so over the years, especially since 2003, I’ve been involved with hospice, and I was on a hospice team and a palliative care team.”

Sister Janet was working at Mt. Joseph Senior Village in Concordia taking care of aging sisters, but was volunteering for Meadowlark Hospice. They were interested in her working full time, but at that time it wasn’t possible.
And then, it finally all came together. Sister Janis Wagner told her that she was moving back from Clay Center to the Motherhouse, so her house was available, and no sisters were at Mt. Joseph. She dropped by Meadowlark Hospice to talk to the director and discovered that their staff chaplain had just retired.

“I went home and prayed about it and thought about it and called the leadership team and now here I am in Clay Center,” she said. “I was already attending the Meadowlark meetings and being tested (for Covid). And now I’ve been more fully involved with the team. My heart has always wanted to be in hospice full time.”

Now instead of being in just one facility, Sister Janet often finds herself on the road.

“Instead of walking the halls of the hospital, I’m traveling through the community to be present with people in their homes or facilities, nursing homes, or wherever they are,” she said.

From left: Amy Burr, BSN, RN, and Program Director for Meadowlark Hospice with Sister Janet LeDuc, Hospice Chaplain, and Audie Hartman, RN, and Patient Care Coordinator for Meadowlark Hospice. They are all a part of the team at Meadowlark Hospice, which serves five and a half counties in the north central Kansas area.

Meadowlark Hospice serves multiple counties. She said her longest regular trip is an hour drive. But that can change at a moment’s notice.

“I have an average of eight clients at a time, so I choose when I travel and can do my own scheduling unless they call me unexpectedly. Then I move and I go there right away. And I never know.”

Amy Burr, BSN, RN, and Meadlowlark Hospice Program Director said that Sister Janet’s flexibility and willingness to respond wherever she can makes her a valuable part of the hospice team.

“I don’t think there is any person on our team that is ever hesitant to give Sister Janet a call because they are never fearful of ‘oh will she be able to do it, where is she at?’ You know that when you call Sister Janet and you need a prayer, even if she’s driving down the road where ever. She pulls over and has the prayer or whatever is needed for the patient at that time. If she can get to them she gets to them.”

And even a prayer can make a big impact.

“One instance is a family that she went and prayed with and she just absolutely prayed from her heart what she was feeling for that family. It was so beautiful how she did it, they contacted us and wanted a copy of the prayer that she read,” Burr said.

The only problem was, there was no written prayer. Those were Sister Janet’s thoughts at the time. There was no written prayer to copy.

The role of a hospice chaplain is important, not just to the patients but also to support the hospice staff.

“It’s a very important piece of what hospice is able to provide. We’re not just the sliver of the pie where we go in and make sure that people are comfortable. We’re making sure that people are comfortable on all levels,” Burr said. “And that’s emotional, spiritual, physical and all. And having that piece where people allow her to come into their homes and provide that comfort is very important in end of life journeys.”

Audie Hartman, RN, and Patient Care Coordinator for Meadowlark Hospice, said that having Sister Janet available as a chaplain, even sometimes just by phone, helps. She shared a particular story where she was in the field and was able to reach Sister Janet to assist her via her phone.

“I am not a spiritually strong person. I don’t feel comfortable praying. I don’t even know what to say, so I had that conversation with her at one point and she was able to provide me with resources and some songs I could play at the bedside. So that was very helpful, but then also being there for me that day when I was at a bedside, and it was a Covid unit and the family couldn’t get in.”

“They were on the other side of the window and I was in the room holding her hand. Sister Janet was on the phone praying for her. It was just a very sad, beautiful moment all in the same breath,” Hartman said.

Covid restrictions have caused unique problems for hospice caregivers. Many times they are allowed in the facility, while a family member is not. And sometimes they have to find a new way to communicate completely.

“With Covid at nursing homes — I’ve done it through the windows, I’ve done it through a phone speaker, and that was an effective way, but through a window doesn’t work. I think we all know that,” Sister Janet said. “And one of the greatest crosses to bear is that I may have the privilege to go in, but a family member can’t go in. So I always try to be careful what I say or I don’t say because I feel that one member of the family should be able to go in. I think how it would be if it was my family member. I’m grateful hospice can go in. But how painful that is. That is very painful.”

But acknowledging the family’s pain makes Sister Janet more effective.

“That’s what Janet’s done well during Covid. She’s acknowledged that their families cannot be with their loved ones and be there. She is very much abolishing that idea that hospice care is not just for that patient and she reaches out to those families as well and provides that support, that conversation that they need to have,” Burr said.

And that family support is part of the care that hospice provides. They provide bereavement care for family members for a full year after a death.

Sometimes that means meeting a family member in their home, or meeting them at a restaurant. Whatever makes them comfortable.

And sometimes the care comes in the form of a card.

“I never thought that a card with a prayer in it could be so powerful,” Sister Janet said.

But she was approached by a family member at a funeral who said that the prayer came at a time when they were very low and she will never know how powerful that message was.

“Well that helped me. Never underestimate the power of what you are doing. The power of sending a card,” Sister Janet said. “I just feel this ministry isn’t a ministry in isolation.”

Meadowlark Hospice serves Clay, Cloud, Republic, Washington, Marshall and the western part of Riley County.

The Interdisciplinary Group meets every other week to assess situations and address concerns.

And the end of the meeting, Sister Janet prays over the team.

“At the end of the meeting we have stones and we speak the names of everyone who died to remember them,” Sister Janet said.

“It’s a journey of mystery for all of us. We do it all together,” she said. “I feel honored and very happy to be a part of the hospice team and glad to do what I can.”

Consider becoming a CSJ Associate

April 19, 2021 by  

Front Row Left to Right: Mary Denise Carleton, Myrna Shelton, Susan LeDuc, Susan Riordan, Nancy Welsh. Back Row Left to Right: Rosalita Flax, Mary Kenworthy, Amber Charbonneau, Bill Riordan, Dawn Knipp Desbien.

  Sisters of St. Joseph Associates are Christian women and men of all ages and from all walks of life. Associates experience: the joys of participating in small faith communities, a closer association with the Sisters of St. Joseph, growth in their spiritual life, meaningful opportunities to serve God and the dear neighbor, and communal support in living the mission in their daily lives.  If you have this desire we invite you and all Christian men and women to join us in our mission.

If you would like more information or are considering becoming a CSJA contact us at:

•  Catherine Seitz, Seven Dolors , Manhattan, KS  (785) 564-9282                               

•  Gerry Parker, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Salina, KS (785) 577-1650

•  Susan LeDuc, St. John the Baptist (Clyde) Concordia, KS (785) 249-3313

•  Dawn Knipp Desbien, St. Joseph’s, Damar, KS (785) 737-3622

The Associate Team Left to right: Catherine Seitz, Gerry Parker, Susan LeDuc, and Dawn Knipp Desbien.

 

2021 Theological Institute

April 1, 2021 by  

Ecology and Theology: A Profound Invitation to Choose New Life

July 15-18-2021

This year’s Theological Institute will be held virtually via Zoom

The Theological Institute is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas. It is an adult learning experience aimed at deepening our roots in the Christian tradition and exploring its implications for living the Gospel in the contemporary world.

Contemporary understandings of ecology affirm a relational vision of life. All is connected! A living sense of faith also draws us into the reality and deep mystery of interrelationship.

This institute will explore the dynamic interface between ecology and religious consciousness. It will do so within the unprecedented context of our times, perhaps best described through a lens that points to intrinsic connections between environmental degradation, the devastation of Covid-19, poverty, racism, prejudice, unjust economic and political structures, alienation, isolation and a rise of nationalism.

Limited number of partial scholarships available for lay participants on first-come, first-serve basis. Inquire at Manna House of Prayer, 785-243-4428.

Register online at www.mannahouse.org

We are living in hard times in which such connections have a negative, disruptive and suffering impact on individual lives, communities and the world. Hidden in the challenges and struggle of these times, though, is a profound invitation to choose new life inspired by relations expressed in ecology and faith. These relationships promise transformative, hope-filled gifts for our time and for the future.

Presenter

Mary Rowell, CSJ, is a Sister of St. Joseph in Canada. Sister Mary teaches moral theology and Catholic social teaching at the University of Toronto. Based at Villa St. Joseph Ecology and Spirituality Centre in Cobourg, Ontario, Mary is also a spiritual and retreat director. She leads retreats and workshops, lectures extensively and provides facilitation services across Canada and the United States.

Currently, Sister Mary is the Vocation and Formation Director for the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada and President of the National Association of Vocation and Formation Directors (Canada).

Formerly a nurse and nurse educator, Sister Mary has worked in health care and education in the U.K., Canada, and numerous countries in Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Eastern Europe, where she specialized in opthalmological care and blindness prevention programs. She also has worked in the field of clinical bioethics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London, Ontario.

Formerly director of graduate programs in bioethics at the University of Toronto, Sister Mary is also a researcher for the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute and works in consultative roles for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Schedule of events (held virtually on Zoom)

JULY 15: Opening Session: 6:30 – 8 p.m.

JULY 15: Morning Session: 9:15-11:30 a.m. Afternoon Session: 2 – 4 p.m.

JULY 17: Morning Session: 9:15-11:30 a.m. Afternoon Session: 2-4 p.m.

JULY 18: Concluding Session 9 – 10:30 a.m.

Institute fees

Pre-registration required by July 1, 2021.

$50 non-refundable pre-registration fee required, applicable to total cost.

Limited number of partial scholarships available for lay participants on first-come, first-serve basis. Inquire at Manna House of Prayer, 785-243-4428.

Register online at www.mannahouse.org

Sisters stand against racism and misogyny

March 25, 2021 by  

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas, stand in solidarity with the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph and Leadership Council of Women Religious in condemning racism and misogyny in light of the recent violent acts against the Asian-American and Pacific Island communities.

The evils of racism and misogyny stand in direct opposition to the dignity of human life and our presence as the image and likeness of God in the world.

We pray for healing and peace for all who have been, are, and will be affected by violence due to racism and sexism in our world. And we pray that our God who unites us all will transform our hearts so that we may truly be one in Christ.

 

U.S. Federation Stands Against the Racism and Misogyny Directed Towards the Asian-American and Pacific Island Communities

 

The U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph joins the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in condemning racism and sexism in all their harmful forms — whether the violent acts of white supremacists and misogynists or the daily acts of hate and discrimination that diminish us all.

We grieve with the citizens of Atlanta and the Asian-American and Pacific Island communities. We mourn with those who have lost loved ones to hateful acts of violence, with all who live in fear, and with all whose dignity is threatened by xenophobia and chauvinism. We lament the racism and sexism that continue to afflict our communities, threaten neighbors, and denigrate all we hold dear.

We acknowledge our own complicity in institutional racism and sexism. We vow to use our Gospel Charism and mission of unifying love for the healing and transformation of the world to commit ourselves to cleanse our hearts and rid our land of these twin evils. We promise to continue to use our collective voice and energy to build God’s beloved community where all are one.

To learn more about this issue and how to get involved, we encourage you to visit these organizations:

  • Asian American Advancing Justice- Atlanta:  a nonprofit legal advocacy group protecting the rights of Asian-Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in Georgia and the Southeast
  • AAPI Women Lead and #ImReady Movement: supports AAPI women and girls with workshops and and research, and promotes movements such as #ImReady, which addresses issues like gender-based and racial discrimination and sexual harassment in the community
  • Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: a national organization, founded in 1974, working to protect and promote civil rights for Asian-Americans

Born in a box car

March 8, 2021 by  

Immigrants Among Us is a series of stories proposed by the Sisters of St. Joseph’s Immigration Committee. These stories will highlight immigrants in our communities.

 

Sister Barbara Ellen fled communism as a child for a better life in the U.S.

Immigrants in America can be found around us everywhere — sometimes in the least expected places. For example, Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller, a familiar face as the long-time Salina Diocese Religious Education and Youth Ministry Director, came to the United States and enrolled in school unable to speak any English as a child — and today she spends her days working with youth and making sure that all of their voices are heard in the Catholic Church.

Sister Barbara Ellen reflects on early photos of her family in her office at the Chancery in Salina, Kansas.

Sister Barbara Ellen was born in an Austrian train’s boxcar, enroute to Germany. The year was 1946 and the Russians had taken over the Apacellers’ native Hungary, so the family was headed for what they thought would be a better life.

“My mom and dad, they were born in Hungary and they grew up there and married. My older sister was born in Hungary, and then in 1946, communism was taking over Hungary,” Sister Barbara Ellen said. “They were unhappy and everyone was leaving and going to Germany.”

There were four girls in her mother’s family, and three of them immigrated to the United States, while the eldest stayed in Hungary. Sister Barbara Ellen’s parents, Sebastian and Barbara (Assman) Apaceller, were from the town of Gurd, near Budapest.

“My sister, Anna Flaim, was born in Hungary, she is 18 months older than me. My mother was very pregnant with me when they left Hungary on the train,” Sister Barbara Ellen said. “Then the train stopped so I could be born in a box car in Wittmansdorf, near Vienna, and then we went on to Germany.”

Unfortunately, the reception in Germany was not what her parents had hoped.

“The Germans really didn’t care to have all these immigrants coming in. We lived in Germany for about five years, but so many other refugees were there that my father couldn’t find work, so in 1952 we came to the United States, thanks to a Catholic Relief Services family in Indianapolis. After four months in Indiana, we moved to Aurora, Illinois, where my two aunts lived,” she said. “I think I was six years old, and my sister would have been eight.”

“I didn’t speak any English when I came to the U.S.,” she said. “I spoke German, and my folks only spoke German and Hungarian.”

Despite the language barrier, both of her parents were able to get jobs in Aurora and enroll the two girls in the local Catholic school, which was just down the block. Her father had been a train conductor in Hungary, and found a job at All Steel Manufacturing Company, where he worked for more than 30 years until his retirement.

Overcoming language barriers

Sister Barbara Ellen (right) and her sister Anna Flaim as they looked as young immigrants to the United States.

She and her sister Anna were enrolled in Aurora’s Sacred Heart Grade School, conducted by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. She said that despite not speaking English, the transition to school in the United States was made easier by the sisters.

“They were just always very welcoming. And the kids made us feel very accepted. Naturally, the first time I went we were both very scared because we got there in the summer so we hardly knew any English,” Sister Barbara Ellen said. “Anna and I, we just had to learn what the kids were talking about and what the teachers were saying. Each of the teachers always had someone sit with the both of us in each of our classes to help us and to make sure that we knew what they were saying and how to pronounce the words. The sisters were very open. They really helped Anna and I. We always felt a part of the classes.”

But it was, as she recalls, “very scary.”

“When we went home we just spoke German,” she said. “It took me two to three years to get fluent. But when we were at school the kids were pretty patient with us and taught us a lot. They would show us things and say, ‘Now that was a pencil or a blackboard.’ When I think back it was hard.”

While busy learning English and integrating into the U.S. life, her family also was keeping their heritage alive at home. Luckily, there was a group of other German immigrants in Aurora.

“My mom loved music, and she could always get things started. She’d have the adults and the young adults that were German get together. She would teach them German songs and on Mother’s day or Christmas they would put on a program and sing carols in German and songs about mothers in German and dress up in German attire,” Sister Barbara Ellen said. “She also did that with the little kids. Just to bring their ancestry back and they just loved it. And she loved working with the different age groups and making sure they wouldn’t forget about their ancestry.”

Her parents went on to become U.S. citizens.

“My mom and dad became citizens. I remember they had to go to classes. They went into Chicago and became citizens. Anna and I also went in with them,” she said.

While her parents did have to pass a test, the children did not.

“They did the paperwork for us, because we were so young. I would have been I the third or fourth grade and Anna in fifth of sixth.”

While attending Sacred

Sister Barbara Ellen takes the habit as a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia.

Heart she met students Marilyn Wall and Philomene Reiland, who both would later become Sisters of St. Joseph. And it is where she first encountered Sister Mary Paul Buser.

“She and all of the sisters in our school were young and full of life, and they seemed so happy. They had such a sense of joy and happiness that I was attracted to the religious life,” she said.

In 1964, she found herself on a train again, journeying to Kansas to join the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

And today, since 1984 and after many ministries including in Western Kansas, she can be found at the Chancery in Salina where she is known for her vibrant leadership in youth ministry work and religious education. And in that position it is important for her to welcome immigrants into the Catholic Church.

“There are a number of Hispanic kids in our youth groups. They don’t have so many language barriers because I think their parents were the immigrants, and the children were born here,” she said. “But I think some of our problems is that they get separated. Many of them go to public schools and not Catholic schools. We need to reach out so their voices can be heard in our youth groups. We need to find ways to include them.”

How to make that happen

“I mention to our youth leaders, in Hays, Manhattan and Salina, especially, that we need to be reaching out to the Hispanic community,” she said. “And we need to encourage our kids to invite them to come.”

But it’s not an easy problem to solve.

“I think that in the United States, the different nationalities, especially in the bigger cities they have Hispanic, they have Anglos … they all have their little clusters,” she said. “But you know, we really are one. And how do we make it happen? I want to get there. I want to have all voices heard, not just certain voices, and I think it starts young when they are in grade school. There is an acceptance. Kids accept. They don’t see color or nationality. They’re just friends. What happens to adults? Because we can be so judgmental and non-accepting of different nationalities.

 

 

 

 

 

Generous donors fund new washers and dryers for Neighbor to Neighbor

December 31, 2020 by  

Neighbor to Neighbor received an early Christmas gift when two sets of new washers and dryers were installed on Dec. 21. Thanks to the work of generous donors, the guests at Neighbor to Neighbor will be well served for years to come.

Why does Neighbor to Neighbor need laundry services?

“Since Neighbor to Neighbor began, one of the many services we offer is the availability of free washers and dryers for our women. The machines we had have served everyone well for 12 years. They are almost always used the entire day on every day we are open,” said Sister Missy Ljungdahl, director of Neighbor to Neighbor. “Women are trying to budget their money and make ends meet. This is one way we can help them with this matter.”

Josh Duvall moves one of the units into the laundry room.

This year, their current laundry equipment was showing signs of years of wear.

“We knew it was getting close to time to replace the machines and wanted to have things in place before ‘it was too late.’ When we were evaluating our needs, we knew the washers and dryers would need to be on top of the list,” Sister Missy said. “In visiting with Ambria Gilliland in the Development Office I mentioned that we would be needing new washers and dryers in the near future.”  

She didn’t realize how near that future would be.

“Within a couple weeks, I received a call from a dear friend of the Community, Connie Tavanis. Connie was calling from Massachusetts saying that she and Mary DeCramer were getting the funding for new machines and they would be here soon,” Sister Missy said.

“When I read that Neighbor to Neighbor needed to replace their worn-out washers and dryers I thought that my ‘band’ and I could step up to the plate and help raise the money to replace them,” Tavanis said.

A band is the name for a group of women who enter into religious life during the same year. She was a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia’s band of 1964.

“We reached out to our families and friends to help us make this happen. Others who read the article in ‘The Messenger’ joined us, and before you knew it we had collected enough to buy two sets of top-of-the-line appliances,” Tavanis said. “I guess we all can relate to how important having clean clothes are to us and those we love. Thank you sisters for all your important work you do in the lives of all those who struggle. Your kindness and caring teaches all of us what is important … loving one another.”

From there, Sister Jan McCormick, Gilliland and Laura Hansen, all in the sisters’ Development Office, worked with Greg Gallagher, Motherhouse property administrator, to make the new washers and dryers a reality. And despite problems purchasing large appliances during supply chain disruptions due to Covid-19, they were able to take the donations and purchase the perfect sets.

“Greg did some research and found a set that we thought would be a good replacement. However, with many manufacturers shut down because of Covid, the units we wanted were no longer in stock. After much more research, another option was found. It was a bit more money than we had originally planned but we went ahead with the purchase,” Gilliland said. “After adding up all the donations received, I was astonished to discover that the amount raised was the exact amount of the purchase! Down to the dollar!”

Gilliland couldn’t wait to let Sister Missy know the good news.

N2N Director Missy Ljungdahl looks on as Justin LeDuc and Brad Snyder move a washer/dryer unit into Neighbor to Neighbor.

“Sister Missy was overjoyed when I told her. She mentioned that Sister Christella Buser always used to say that during Advent, God sends us little gifts. This was certainly an Advent gift!” Gilliland said. “We are all just so grateful for everyone’s support of this project. Clean clothes are something that many of us take for granted but not everyone has the luxury. I have to give a special thank you to Connie Tavanis, who was so touched by this project, that she rounded up her former band members and friends and asked them all to contribute. I know without a doubt, that the success of this project is due mostly to her.”

Maintenance staff at the Motherhouse installed the units on Dec. 21, just before the holidays.

“The machines were installed and within hours they had already been put to good use,” Sister Missy said. “Our women are happy to be able to have these laundry services. One woman has said that the money she would have to use at the laundromat is money she has put away for Christmas. Everyone has been gifted this year.”

Sister Missy wanted to again thank everyone who made this happen for the women of Neighbor to Neighbor.

“There are so many people to thank for the gift of the washers and dryers. Surely there will be some left out and for that I apologize,” Sister Missy said. “But let me try: Sisters Ramona, Jean and Pat, and Myrna Shelton for thinking up Neighbor to Neighbor and keeping it a welcoming place; Our development and communications offices for getting the word out of our needs; Greg Gallagher and our maintenance crew for purchasing and installing the machines; Connie Tavanis and Mary DeCramer for getting so many people involved with monetary gifts and letting them know about our work; and F&A Food Sales, here in Concordia, for donating laundry soap and bleach. We thank God for the privilege of being able to be here for the women and children of Concordia.”

Women can schedule a time to do laundry once a week at Neighbor to Neighbor.

“Please call if you need this service and we can put you on the calendar,” Sister Missy said. “We do have laundry detergent for your use. Finally, we ask that if you are doing your laundry, that you stay in the building.”

Neighbor to Neighbor is located at 103 E. Sixth St. in Concordia. It is a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph. For more information, call 785-262-4215 or email neighbortoneighbor@csjkansas.org.

“These washers and dryers really are a blessing to so many women in our community,” Gilliland said. “Thank you!”

 

Manna House plays Santa’s helper with United Way of the Plains

December 16, 2020 by  

Manna House of Prayer in Concordia was delighted to play Santa’s helper this Christmas season thanks to United Way of the Plains. United Way of the Plains partnered with Good 360 and Toys for Tots to distribute 14,448 toys and games to children in 27 counties across Kansas, including Cloud County, this holiday season. Manna House was selected to distribute the gifts to families in need in this area.

Susan LeDuc, administrative coordinator of Manna House, along with the help of her husband, Jim, picked up a van-load of 120 toys in Wichita last week and brought them back to Manna House where the Sisters of St. Joseph sorted them into age groups and then wrapped many of the gifts. Then it was time to distribute to families that had fallen into the gaps between the other community relief programs.

“The families that were selected were mostly families with several children. We were careful to pick families who had not signed up for Christmas baskets or the Angel Tree,” LeDuc said. “Covid has caused them financial burdens. Almost every family is working or had been. Many of them are single parent families.”

LeDuc said that one mother told her they had been in quarantine and she had been unable to get any gifts. Then she said it didn’t matter because, “She didn’t have any money anyway.”

“Collaborations like this allow us to stretch donated dollars to help meet the tangible needs of non profits and the people they serve,” said Mark Stump, director of direct services for United Way of the Plains. “Last year we distributed more than $2 million worth of donated goods to 325 Kansas nonprofits.”

Through their Give Items of Value (GIV) warehouse, United Way of the Plains has the ability to accept donations from corporate partners and distribute them to nonprofits at no cost, helping them lower overhead expenses. United Way of the Plains was one of three sites selected nationally to participate in this pilot program to reach children in communities that do not have a Toys for Tots program. GIV has partnered with United Ways and other nonprofits in select counties to distribute the toys through their local assistance programs.

Donations include games, dolls, basketballs, soccer balls, electronics, stuffed animals and more for boys and girls age 0 to 14+.

“In a year when more families than ever are facing hardships, this program will ease their burdens and bring joy to children across Kansas on Christmas morning,” said Pete Najera, United Way President and CEO.

“I cannot begin to tell you how appreciative these parents were. It made me feel like Santa,” LeDuc said. “I truly was the one receiving the gift.”

“One mother said her 7- and 9-year-old commented that there was only 15 days before Christmas and wondered why there weren’t any presents under the tree yet.  Thanks to these organizations we were able to put presents under the tree this year,” LeDuc said. “Another couple could not thank me enough, just repeated thank you’s all the time they were here picking up the toys. Yesterday, a single mother came during her lunch hour to pick up the toys.  She remarked that the toys were so nice and that they were going to make her two daughters’ Christmas so special.  She cried going out the door.  Several asked, ‘You mean we get more than one gift per child?’  Just an overabundance of gratitude from all of them.”

Manna House of Prayer was established in 1978.  It is owned and operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph.  Since its inception Manna House has served the poor through its Helping Hands ministry.  The Helping Hands ministry provides emergency financial assistance, temporary housing, and a small food bank.  It is entirely dependent on private donations and grants.

 

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