Sisters of St. Joseph welcome community for open house

December 9, 2019 by  

It was standing room only for a while as families packed the Nazareth Motherhouse auditorium for the annual Christmas Open House on Dec. 8. Beautiful 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. Santa and Mrs. Claus posed for photos with all the children during the free event.

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 more than 450 cookies,” Larry Metro, food service supervisor for the Sisters of St. Joseph, said. The iced, sugar cookies were a definite hit.

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

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. “There were adults who toured our new Heritage Room and afterward sought out a specific sister whose story they read to learn more about her and her work. That provided for a wonderful conversation!”

“Having Santa at the Motherhouse also provides 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. “Many parents and grandparents were appreciative of having a place to share this experience with their children in a relaxed, welcoming environment.”

“Everyone had so much fun! Most of the kids were overjoyed to see Santa and Mrs. Claus but there were a few that were a little unsure,” said Ambria Gilliland, assistant director of development for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. “We had a great crowd! The sisters truly enjoyed interacting with the kids. Santa and Mrs. Claus are such good sports. Santa even traded hats with a little boy and had fun trying to coax a smile from the kids by getting them to say ‘Pepsi’ instead of the usual ‘Cheese!’”

This year’s event also offered a drawing for a free door prize.

The door prize was a hand-crafted wooden sign with the words “O come let us adore him” and a manger painted on it. It had battery-operated lights that looked like stars in the night sky. Danielle Haskett, of Concordia, was the lucky winner.

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

Creating a greener lifestyle

December 9, 2019 by  

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

Increase vegetarian menus.

 

“Santa Bruce” will be featured book for December’s Reading with Friends

December 3, 2019 by  

December’s book for Reading with Friends at Neighbor to Neighbor will be “Santa Bruce” by award-winning author and illustrator Ryan T. Higgins.

Bruce is a lot of things. He is a bear. He is a grump. He is a pretty decent cook. One thing Bruce is not? Santa Claus. But that doesn’t stop the whole forest from lining up to give them their Christmas wishes when he becomes the victim of mistaken identity … again.

The book will be read by special guest Tonya Merrill.

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

Manna House of Prayer releases new cookbook

November 23, 2019 by  

Hot off the presses! The Manna House Cookbook!

Sisters Betty Suther (left) and Denise Schmitz with a copy of their new cookbook.

“These are recipes that we have all used at Manna House over the years,” Sister Betty Suther said. “People have been asking us for our recipes forever.”

If you’ve enjoyed some of the delicious food while staying for a retreat at Manna House, now you can find out the secrets to the recipes!

The book is the hard work of Sisters Betty Suther and Denise Schmitz. The books are available at Manna House of Prayer and at the Nazareth Motherhouse Gift Shop. Cost is $15.

To request an online order, email retreatcenter@mannahouse.org or call 785-243-4428.

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.”

 

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.

 

Lourdes Park Grotto gets a facelift

July 24, 2019 by  

The Lourdes Grotto on the Motherhouse grounds is in the process of receiving a new partial facelift. Time and weather has damaged some of the brick and mortar covering the base of the structure.

Justin LeDuc works on the rear of the grotto.

Sister Jodi Creten watches Josh Duvall and Brad Snyder work.

   Motherhouse maintenance employees have been at work this week clearing damaged spots, and are now recovering the lower, damaged parts of the structure with a mortar concrete that they’ve dyed to match the original structure.

“The dying (of the mortar) is a little trial and error, as it changes color as it dries,” said Brad Snyder. “But I think we have it right this time.”

Justin LeDuc is using a sprayer to apply the dyed mortar to the damaged area of the structures. The sprayer allows the texture to mimic the grotto’s existing surface. The mortar mix is finer than regular concrete and able to go through the sprayer without plugging it up. The unique looking device is what is used when constructing swimming pools.

When complete, the repairs should be completely unnoticeable.

Once the repairs are complete, new environmentally friendly, low maintenance plantings will be installed around the base of the structure, which will complement the new plantings that were done in the Lourdes Park gardens previously by Trish Remley, of Grassland Gardens, Nursery & Flower Farm in Miltonvale, Kan.

The grotto and gardens are a perennial favorite location for high school prom pictures, said Jane Wahlmeier, administrative services coordinator for the Motherhouse. “And we really appreciate it when people don’t attempt to climb on it.”

Justin LeDuc uses a sprayer to apply the mortar mix.

The Lourdes Grotto is located in Lourdes Park, which lies to the southeast of the Motherhouse. It is a replica of the site of the apparition of the Blessed Mother to St. Bernadette in Lourdes, France.

It is built of “tuff stone,” a petrified vegetable material found along the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio. The base of the grotto is a brick and mortar construction with a covering of mortar designed to mimic the tuff stone. That is the area being repaired.

The grotto is 40 feet wide and 55 feet deep. The entrance to the grotto imitates the Ruins of Abbey Moyne, Ireland.

E.J. Koenig of Chicago laid out the park and built the grotto in 1916.

Racial justice was focus of 2019 Theological Institute

July 23, 2019 by  

Racial justice, both in the Catholic Church as well as in the United States in general, was the topic at the July 18-21 Theological Institute at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia. The title of this year’s Institute was “The Long Struggle to Desegregate Catholic America.”

Dr. Shannen Dee Williams was the instructor and facilitator for the four-day event. She is a U.S. historian with research specializations in 19th and 20th century African-American history and religious history. She has done award-winning research and currently is an assistant professor of history at Villanova University.

“This July’s Institute with Shannen Dee Williams, PhD, was an eye-opener, to say the least. Possibly, it opened our consciences even more,” Sister Marcia Allen, a member of the Institute committee, said. “Dr. Williams, a brilliant historian of African American history, presented a stunning and profound picture of our United States history from the beginning of our nation to the present. Her lectures were made even more accessible through her use of names and faces.”

The keynote address was, “America’s Real Sister Act: Confronting the Uneasy History of Racial Segregation and Exclusion in Female Religious Life.”

“This project began 12 years ago when I was in graduate school,” Dr. Williams said.

“When I started researching and looking (for black sisters in history), I learned that two of the nation’s historical black sisterhoods had been founded in Savannah, Ga., in my mother’s home town. And yet she didn’t even know that there were black nuns,” Williams said. “Indeed, the schools she attended had been founded by these black nuns, and yet by the time she was in those schools in the 1950s, their history had been erased to her.”

“And I had to ask myself a very difficult question. Why? And also, how? How does that happen?” Williams said. “Historians on the African-American experience have always argued that the greatest weapon of white supremacy has not been its violence, but rather its ability to erase the history of its violence.”

“What didn’t I know about the history of these black nuns? What was so potentially dangerous about their historical memory that it had been erased from us? And I started on my path,” Williams said.

Dr. Williams is currently revising the manuscript for her first book, “Subversive Habits: The Untold Stories of Black Catholic Sisters in the United States,” to be published by Duke University Press.

Her research has been supported by a host of awards and fellowships, including a Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, a Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellowship for Religion and Ethics from the Woodrow Wilson National Foundation, and the John Tracy Ellis Dissertation Award from the American Catholic Historical Association.

“Her thesis was that because of the erasure of African-American names and faces our U. S. history itself has been erased and thus missing a key ingredient of what makes our nation what it is today,” Sister Marcia said. “She gave participants in this year’s Institute a new understanding of our U.S. history and thus our place in it — today. ‘We,’ she said, ‘are today’s history!’”

In addition to the keynote address, additional topics and group sessions included, “Reckoning with Christian Slavery,” “Confronting the Silenced Past,” “Slavery by Another Name,” Reckoning with American Segregation and its Legacies,” “Confronting the Contested Past,” and finally on Sunday morning discussing “What Must Racial Justice Entail.”

“Having attended the Theology Institute on racism, I am more convinced of how little we as Catholics have been exposed to Catholic Social Teaching,” Sister Jodi Creten, an Institute attendee, said. “What one doesn’t know, one cannot hope to understand.”

“This institute also opened my eyes to a history that has not been taught in our schools in the past,” Sister Jodi said. “For us to heal as a society, we need to know the sufferings of so many by unjust institutional laws that have kept people ‘in their place.’”

Members of the Theological Institute committee are Sisters Cathie Michaud, Janet Lander, Betty Suther and Marcia Allen, and Susan LeDuc, administrative coordinator for Manna House of Prayer.

Plans are already underway for the 2020 Theological Institute.

“It will feature Anthony Gittins, Holy Spirit missionary, who has through decades of experiencing other cultures come to understand the concept of interculturation, the subject of the 2020 Institute,” Sister Marcia said. “It is an important follow-up of this year’s racism and assumed white supremacy. Mark your calendars for the 2020 Institute on July 23–26. Be prepared to come away with 2020 vision!”

The Sisters of St. Joseph established the annual Theological Institute a way to continue their long-standing educational tradition, exemplified by the schools they founded and staffed, including Marymount College in Salina. The program is held each summer in Concordia. Over the years the Institute has featured a wide range of well-known theologians, historians and social justice advocates.

Discover Camp helps young Catholic girls discover their gifts

June 17, 2019 by  

Thirty-six junior high girls from around the area filled the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia with laughter, song and prayer during this June’s annual Discover Camp hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph.

“Each year we have a theme,” said Sister Anna Marie Broxterman, camp coordinator. “This year’s theme was, ‘Let Your Light Shine.’ ”

Under the guidance of camp coordinators Sisters Beverly Carlin and Anna Marie Broxterman, and camp directors Kate Brull and Anna Ivey, 36 girls came from across the area to spend June 13-15 with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. Campers, many making return visits, came from Salina, Axtell, Manhattan, Bennington, Minneapolis, Beloit, Hanover, Hollenberg, Hays, Clay Center, Belleville, Clyde, Delphos and Osborne, Kan., as well as Mobile, Ala. Twelve high school- and college-age counselors, sisters, staff members and countless other volunteers rounded out the group. Volunteer Donna Reynolds returned as director of music.

Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia president Jean Rosemarynoski, CSJ, welcomed the campers on Thursday afternoon.

“For several weeks now all of our sisters have been so excited about you coming,” Sister Jean said. She told the campers about some of the history of the both the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Motherhouse prior to their tour later that evening.

“We have over 1,000 people each year that come through here on tours,” Sister Jean said of the historic building. “We like to share our space with others.”

The campers, divided into groups of six, spread their sleeping bags throughout the open space on the fifth floor of the historic Motherhouse, but shared meals and other activities — including a Nazareth scavenger hunt and afternoon bingo at both the Motherhouse and Mount Joseph Senior Village — with the sisters and residents who live there. The girls learned about teamwork by navigating a low ropes course with their group as well as creating and performing a group cheer.

In additional to using prayer, input sessions around the theme, poetry writing and journaling as tools to self-discovery, the campers enjoyed active games, crafts and swimming.

One shared activity Friday evening was a picnic on the Motherhouse grounds, with many of the sisters joining them to enjoy the beautiful weather, followed by a water balloon fight and movie.

The days of fun came to an end Saturday evening when campers’ families were invited to a special Mass in the Sacred Heart Chapel at the Motherhouse, followed by an ice cream social hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph.

That morning, the campers had worked on a living rosary, and practiced their music and liturgy Saturday morning in preparation for Mass. They also attended presentation by co-director Brull entitled “Embracing our Uniqueness.”

Brull talked about the challenges of remaining true to yourself, your faith and friends as you transition into junior high and high school.

“I challenge each of you to go to God in prayer and ask for God’s help to be authentic,” Brull said. “God is our oxygen. God fuels our fire. We need God’s presence in our life.”

The Discover Camp for girls entering the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grades has become an annual event.

“We started in year 2000,” said Sister Bev Carlin told the campers. “Sisters Anna Marie and Pauline (Kukula) are the two that founded our camp.”

“People ask me ‘Why do you call it Discover Camp?’ ” Sister Anna Marie said. “It’s because it is about discovering yourself.”

Girls wanting to attend the 2020 Discover Camp are encouraged to apply early in the spring.

“In recent years we have a waiting list of girls who wish to come, but space cannot accommodate,” Sister Anna Marie Broxterman said. “When campers become old enough to become counselors, they eagerly make application.”

“For the first few years, the campers, counselors, and staff all had rooms at Manna House and we transported all to the Motherhouse for the daily activities,” Sister Anna Marie said. “But eventually fifth floor at the Motherhouse was re-wired and re-painted for youth events. Our maximum capacity is 36 campers, 12 counselors and two camp directors.”

“Sisters serve as camp coordinators and staff, although we do also have lay staff if and where needed, to assist in keeping all activities moving in some rhythmic order,” Sister Anna Marie said.

This year’s staff included sister staff members Pauline Kukula and Kathy Schaefer. Layperson volunteers included Donna Reynolds, Catherine Seitz and Maggie Zody. Counselors were Pam Zarybnicky, Regan Madrigal, Marissa Roberts, Isabella Matteucci, Paula Rolph, Kaetlyn Newell, Trinity Price, Caitlyn Burr, Vivian Leiker, Sara Del Real, Megan Anguiano and Maddie Blochlinger.

To learn more about Discover Camp, or how to apply to attend or become a counselor, visit www.csjkansas.org/for-kids/.

Jubilarians celebrate 1,250 years of love and service to God and the dear neighbor

June 10, 2019 by  

About 300 sisters, family and friends of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia gathered at the Nazareth Motherhouse on Sunday morning, June 9, to celebrate the Jubilee anniversaries of 20 sisters — together representing 1,250 years of love and service to God and the dear neighbor.

The annual celebration recognizes sisters who are marking milestone anniversaries of the date they were received as novices into the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. Since the special day comes at the end of the congregation’s annual June Assembly, almost all of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia were able to be present.

The theme of the celebration was “Weavers of the Spirit of Love.”

The celebration began with Mass in the Sacred Heart Chapel inside the Motherhouse at 10:30 a.m. Fathers Jim Dallen and Kerry Ninemire were the celebrants.

Sister Marilyn Wall welcomed the Jubilarians and crowd.

“Welcome to this day of gratitude and celebration,” Sister Marilyn said. “Many of you who are our guests today were also guests when these Jubilarians entered the novitiate.”

Sister Mary Jo Thummel led the Jubilarians in a renewal of their vows.

“O my God, I renew my vow of fidelity. My vows of obedience, chastity and poverty, hoping with Your divine grace to observe them faithfully all my life.”

They each were presented with gifts from the Community.

“You have truly been weavers of the Spirit of God,” Sister Marilyn said. “And the tapestry you have woven is magnificent.”

Following Mass, the sisters and their guests enjoyed a festive lunch provided by Larry Metro, food service manager, and his staff.

After lunch, a presentation to honor the Jubilarians began at 1:30 p.m. in the Nazareth Motherhouse auditorium. The room was packed with overflow seating, even up on the stage, to accommodate the large crowd of sisters and well-wishers.

Sister Denise Schmitz was the emcee for the occasion, with music provided by Sisters Regina Ann Brummel and Dian Hall. Sister Jodi Creten wrote a poem to celebrate the Jubilarians.

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