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.

Creating a greener lifestyle

February 12, 2019 by  

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

Wash your car yourself, from a bucket.

 

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

Annual Spaghetti Dinner set for March 17

January 4, 2019 by  

Are you feeling lucky? Well put on your green and make your way to the Motherhouse on Sunday, March 17, for our annual Spaghetti Dinner!

Serving more than 600 people last year and raising $12,000, the event continues to grow each year. And this year is predicted to be just as successful.

The event begins with dinner at 11 a.m. Meal tickets cost $8 in advance for adults and $10 at the door. Tickets for children cost $4 in advance and $6 at the door. Early bird meal tickets are available at the Motherhouse front desk until Friday, March 15.

Can’t make it to pick up the tickets? Just contact the Development Office to reserve them and they will be available at the ticket table in the meal line.

Along with the spaghetti, attendees will be able to take a tour of the historic Motherhouse, which includes a stop in the Heritage Room where visitors can learn about the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Also on the agenda are a bake sale with homemade goodies and fun Easter baskets and a silent auction with several items up for bid. Guests can also try their luck at the grab bag station by purchasing a random gift for $1, $2 or $3.

The concluding event of the day will be the raffle drawing which includes the following items:
• Three cash prizes: $500, $200 and $100
• Char-Broil grill/smoker combo
• Handmade quilt by Sister Betty Suther (72” x 72”)
• Nesco 8 quart pressure cooker
• Two KU basketball tickets (date tbd)
• $150 Visa gift card

The raffle tickets are available for $1 each or six for $5 and the drawing will be held at 1:30 p.m. on the day of the event. Raffle tickets can be purchased in advance from the Nazareth Motherhouse or by contacting Laura in the Development Office at lhansen@csjkansas.org or 785-243-2113 ext. 122.

Our sisters look forward to this event every year. We love getting to catch up with our friends so we hope to see you there!
And make sure to wear your green … I can’t guarantee that you won’t get pinched if you don’t!

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.

Curtis Genereux and his helpful elves entertain at Reading with Friends

December 14, 2018 by  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

 

 

We are called by the Gospel to welcome them

November 1, 2018 by  

Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia call for the protection of immigrants

September 28, 2018 by  

 

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas join the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in calling for opposition to the Trump Administration’s new proposed rule impacting immigrants. This regulation is mean-spirited forcing immigrant parents to choose between accessing some basic needs for life for their child and risking their eligibility for possible legal permanent residency. It sets them up as “unwanted.” The Gospel compels us to respond.

The LCWR statement follows:

The US Department of Homeland Security’s proposed changes to the public charge regulation are yet another attempt by President Trump to restrict immigration and punish immigrant families. The new regulation would force parents to make impossible choices between the well-being of their families and the prospect of future citizenship.

The rule changes would dramatically increase the barriers to lawful status for low-income immigrants and their families. It could dissuade parents from obtaining benefits for which their children qualify, out of fear that they may not be able to regularize their immigration status in the future. Lack of access to public benefits programs will increase poverty, hunger, homelessness, and disease, and decrease children’s school attendance and general well-being.

This attempt to target the most vulnerable within the immigrant community violates the tenets of our faith and threatens the values of our nation. We are called by our faith to welcome the stranger and care for the most vulnerable and we are challenged by our national values to promote the welfare of our children and tend the common good. If we want our communities to thrive, all families in those communities must have access to the care and services they need and to which they are entitled. The Trump administration’s proposed changes to the public charge regulation threaten us all.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious urges all people of faith to call for protection of immigrants, especially those who are most vulnerable, and to register their objections to this unreasonable and mean-spirited proposal during the 60-day comment period.

 

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