Creating a greener lifestyle

November 23, 2020 by  

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

Create a backyard wildlife refuge, bird sanctuary and/or vegetable garden.

Leaving her mark on history

October 28, 2020 by  

Every archivist leaves behind a bit of themselves in the archives they oversee. The legacy might seem challenging, such as preparing for a congregation’s 125th anniversary — an event close to the archivist’s heart. It might be the simple, quiet act of documenting the lives of deceased sisters. Or it might be a quest for information to satisfy a genealogist’s random inquiry, which then turns the archivist into a bit of a detective.

Sister Bernadine Pachta did all that and more during her more than 25 years as archivist for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. Sister Bernadine “retired” as archivist this fall, and was honored with a gratitude party and ice cream social Aug. 27 at the Nazareth Motherhouse.

“I’m not really retiring, I’m just going to not be working maybe quite as hard as I was,” Sister Bernadine laughed. “Once an archivist, I don’t think you can ever leave it totally. So I just want to say, things will carry on, and Jean Ann will carry on.”

Sister Jean Ann Walton has assisted Sister Bernadine in archives for the last five years. She was appointed to succeed Sister Bernadine as archivist, taking on the role on Sept. 1.
“After she relinquishes the office she is willing to continue to serve as a consultant to Jean Ann when she is needed. And for that we are very, very grateful,” Sister Jean Rosemarynoski, president, announced during the celebration. “And it speaks so highly of Bernadine’s dedication and her love of Community.”

In 1995, while still working at Harvard University, Sister Bernadine was asked to be a field agent working with then-archivist, Sister Liebe Pellerin. She worked with Sister Liebe in that capacity for 10 years prior to moving to Concordia in 2005 to assume full-time responsibilities after Liebe’s retirement.

During those 25 years Sister Bernadine has fielded many individual requests from genealogists working on family histories, academicians doing scholarly research on women’s issues, historians and former students. She has been instrumental in providing material and giving input for the newly designed Heritage Rooms on the second floor of the Nazareth Motherhouse and was indispensable to Sister Sally Witt and her work on the book “Beyond the Frontier,” an updated history of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, published in 2020.

She also has provided materials for Leadership Council of Women Religious and the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph. She has been an active member of the Archivists for Congregations of Women Religious. And, Sister Bernadine contributed significantly to the work of the Community’s 125th anniversary in 2008-09.

While the work of an archivist is often done behind closed doors and amid dusty files, Sister Jean noted the essential qualifications that make for a good archivist.

“Having a sense of history and having a knowledge of the community — while that is an essential aspect of the job, the job is so much more than that. Sometimes its like detective work, you know that something is there, you know somehow it is related but it’s not obvious,” Sister Jean said. “And so it takes going from one file to get a clue to another file to get a clue. Its detective work, you have to have great organization and decision making skills because each item that is stored in archives could be categorized under a dozen different headings and so you have to at some point make a decision, and then the real trick is you have to remember which category you put that in. But then it also requires a lot of confidentiality, a lot of trust. But most importantly it is a position that requires a real love of the work because of the love of the Community. And Bernadine has done that very, very well. She was excelled at that.”

Sister Bernadine thanked all of the archivists who came before her in the Community, particularly her mentor Sister Liebe.

“Liebe was a wonderful mentor. All I did was stand on their (prior archivists’) shoulders and keep going,” Sister Bernadine said. “I just feel there are so many wonderful things, and I feel this has been very much of a privilege, and also a capstone of everything I’ve done through my life.”

NOW IN STOCK! New book — “Fire and Passion: The Mysticism of Bette Moslander”

August 24, 2020 by  

A collection of the works of Sister Bette Moslander now available  

“Fire and Passion: the Mysticism of Bette Moslander” is a new book and a labor of love for Sisters Marcia Allen and Gilla Dubé. The book is a compilation of excerpts from Sister Bette’s writings and talks and original chalk drawings from her personal journal, complimented by reflection questions written by Sister Marcia.

Additionally, the interactive book will contain links to a dedicated website that will offer entire texts of her talks, as well as audio and video presentations.

“We chose the title ‘Fire and Passion’ because these words express the essence of her life,” Sister Gilla said. “The fire, the passion and the mysticism — these were the three descriptors that spoke to me of her life and spirit.”

For Sister Marcia, Sister Bette was mentor and friend, going back to when Sister Marcia entered the postulancy and Sister Bette was a novice. Sister Bette, who entered the Community with a Ph.D. in theology, taught the newest members, postulants and novices. From there, Sister Marcia worked closely with her in the 1970s when she was elected vice president of the Community and Sister Bette was elected president. The two then worked together from 1980 to 2010 helping other communities with chapters, assemblies and working as consultants both in the United States and abroad.

“Everywhere she went she was always a speaker in demand,” Sister Marcia said. “She had a very charismatic presentation when she spoke and left a legacy of friendship around the world. And everywhere she spoke, people often would ask, ‘Can we have a copy of that?’”

“She would start out with some sort of a script, and then ab lib, but nobody knew that. After she died I decided that I would collect her written and oral works and see what could be made available,” Sister Marcia said. “What we found dated as far back as the 1950s and she was still teaching in 2010. That’s when I realized the task would be large.”

“I kept trying to figure out how to grasp the essence of what she said, without simply publishing volumes and volumes of words. Finally the idea to take excerpts of her talks and make reflection opportunities began to surface,” Sister Marcia said. “I

discovered that Sister Gilla would be able to edit and organize the material. So we chose the excerpts and I created reflection questions for each excerpt. We then organized the material into themes seen through the lens of mysticism: Discipleship, Love, Creative Energy, Vulnerability, Inclusion. Samples of Sister Bette’s chalk art enhance and illuminate the themes.”

Additional support for the project came from Sister Sherryl White, a Sister of St. Joseph of Baden, PA who created a special website for Sister Bette’s works. “The

website makes it possible for the reader to access an entire talk or text via audio or video or the written word. The reference given for each excerpt enables the reader to go to the website and find the whole text or talk,” Sister Marcia said.

The late Sister Bette Moslander, CSJ

“The guiding principle for me, and I’m sure for Sister Marcia, was the desire to honor the legacy of this woman,” Sister Gilla said. “I came into this not knowing anything about Sister Bette except by reputation, her leadership background and popularity as a speaker. I started reading her work and immediately got swept into her spirit – her fire and passion. What’s fascinating to me is that what she wrote in the 70s into the early 21st century is as relevant and prophetic today as it was then.”

“Our challenge was to present Sister Bette’s spirit and depict a true picture of her life’s commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A critical piece, as least as far as I’m concerned, is not just the excerpts, but the reflection questions that accompany each excerpt. The personal reflection questions that Sister Marcia offers bridge the reader with the meaning and spirit of the text and its implications for today and into the future.”

“We see this book as a personal reflection guide, a retreat guide, a group study guide,” Sister Marcia said. “There are no limits to possibilities in the use of this book. While the majority of her talks were given to women religious of various orders, she also spoke to various lay groups of women and men and priests’ organizations. Any talk she gave illuminated Gospel values and is applicable to any person who believes.

Her main theme was the root of the Christian life and the mission of Jesus. “Christians have to rediscover the soul of the Christian message,” Sister Bette said.

“Sister Bette offered challenge and consolation to individuals looking for hope in ordinary time, and she spoke to that,” Sister Marcia said.

“She was obviously extremely bright, yet what drew me was her tenderness so evident in the texts that I studied. When she wrote, there was such love and such tenderness,” Gilla said. “yet she had a way of challenging the status quo, challenging people not to settle for mediocrity.”

Sister Bette died on March 22, 2015. “Fire and Passion: the Mysticism of Bette Moslander” was printed by Consolidated Printing in Salina, Kansas. To pre-order, use the form below, click our paypal “buy now” link, email or call (785) 243-4428. Cost is $19.95. Shipping and handling is $4.50 for one book. Add an additional $1 for each additional book. Please make your check payable to Manna House of Prayer. As soon as they arrive from the printer they will be shipping!



Two new Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia profess their vows

July 24, 2020 by  

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia welcomed two new sisters on July 19.

Carol Goodson and Robin Stephenson both made their agrégée Vows of Religious Profession at the Sacred Heart Chapel in the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia, Kansas.

Each sister took a unique path to finding their religious calling with the Community in Concordia.

Carol Goodson

After retirement as a librarian from the University of West Georgia in 2015, a priest led her to ask God if she could possibly become a sister.

“Two days later my prayer was answered when I saw some information about the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia,” Sister Carol said.

“On my very first visit to Concordia in June 2016, I was so touched by the warm reception I got from the sisters.”

After profession, Sister Carol is returning to Georgia to begin new ministries in the Atlanta area.   

In her previous ministry, she was president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in her parish in Carrollton, Georgia. In that capacity, in addition to leading the organization, she visited the poor in their homes in order to assess their needs and pray with them.

“We nearly always provided financial assistance to them as well, usually with utilities or rent,” Sister Carol said. “We also had a food pantry in the parish which was very heavily used, and we conducted a monthly distribution of frozen food to our clients.”

“Once I have chosen a home parish, I will introduce myself to the pastor and ask what he needs, offering myself to do it,” Sister Carol said. “I was part of the RCIA team at my previous parish, and — as a convert — that work is very close to my heart.  One of my long-term goals is to try to start a CSJ Associate group in my new home area.” 

Robin Stephenson

Sister Robin Stephenson was facing retirement and trying to find a way to become closer to God. The Internet gave her a hand in finding the Sisters of St. Joseph.

“Initially I took an online personal inventory on whether religious life would be feasible. The inventory validated aptitudes toward religious formation,” Sister Robin said.

She was coming up on 40 years of pediatric and school nursing, but didn’t really feel like she was done yet. Additionally, Sister Robin wanted to draw even closer to God and the charism of inclusive service seemed to fit her vocational goals.

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, residing now in Portland Oregon, Sister Robin has been a district school nurse in Beaverton, Oregon, for the past 26 years, and anticipates retirement in 2021.

“I was married for many years, and then my marriage was annulled. I have two beautiful children who are now grown adults,” Sister Robin said. “There is also a beautiful five-year-old granddaughter that is one of the lights of my life.”

Robin said after finding information on the Sisters of St. Joseph, she contacted Sister Lorren Harbin about four years ago. She visited in Concordia on her school summer break.

“I was instantly drawn to the sisters. Over the three years of discernment I definitely felt like I wanted to be a part of this beautiful group of women and the work they do,” Sister Robin said. “If I could just be a sponge to soak up some of their wisdom … I just fit. It feels like a part of family when I’m with the sisters.”

Sister Robin said she plans to continue living in Oregon and fulfilling her mission there.

“Currently I’m on the Eucharistic ministerial team at St. Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception at the Cathedral however, the Covid-19 times have lessened that right now,” Sister Robin said. “I assisted with second grade religious education and first reconciliation and communion at the Cathedral last year.”

“All the CSJ sisters with whom I have had the opportunity to be with have shown their soul beauty and love,” Sister Robin said. “I pray it continues to rub off and influence the rest of my life.”

Agrégée vows

Agrégée sisters are defined as women who commit themselves to active and inclusive love of God and the dear neighbor as expressed in the spirit and spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. They are viewed as members of the congregation in almost every aspect, but there are a couple of significant differences:

  • “Canonically vowed sisters” profess the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, as defined by canon — or church — law. As part of the vow of poverty, an individual sister relinquishes all personal wealth and income; at the same time, the congregation assumes responsibility for her economic well being for the rest of her life.
  • “Agrégée sisters” profess a vow of fidelity to the congregation, but it is noncanonical, meaning that it is not governed by Church law and is instead a private vow between that sister and the Concordia congregation. It also means that the agrégée does not relinquish her finances to the congregation, and the congregation assumes no financial responsibility for her.

Father Barry Brinkman presided over the liturgy while Sister Jean Rosemarynoski, president, received the vows in the name of the Congregation.

‘Beyond the Frontier’ — A new book on the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia

July 20, 2020 by  

The 1948 book “Footprints on the Frontier” by Sister M. Evangeline Thomas, PhD, has long been considered the most comprehensive history of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. Updating that work left big footprints to fill. Following in those footsteps was historian Sister Sally Witt, CSJ, of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, Pa., who took on the task of writing an updated history of the Concordia congregation.

And now, after years of meticulous research and writing, Sister Sally has completed a detailed book documenting the rich history of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. Her book, “Beyond the Frontier,” builds upon the pioneering work of Sister Evangeline in order to document the complex history of this religious Community.

Witt said that while the book follows Sister Evangeline’s work, it is not a sequel, although it is done in a similar style.

“The book doesn’t start where ‘Footprints’ left off,” Sister Sally said. “It actually starts in prehistoric Kansas and then gets more seriously in depth when the sisters go to Canandaigua, N.Y., in 1854.”

Sister Marcia Allen, who initiated the project when she was president of the congregation and read the manuscript throughout the process, was pleased to see the project culminate in success.

“ ‘Beyond the Frontier’ — finally Sister Evangeline Thomas’ dream is fulfilled! She dreamed of bringing her history, ‘Footprints on the Frontier,’ up-to-date and took comprehensive notes. Her death interrupted her work,” Sister Marcia said. “Sally has brought about that dream in a work that is respectful of Evangeline’s work and enriches it with information that Evangeline did not have. Sally’s own work is an artful and research-grounded portrayal of a Community, not shy of risks that the frontier demands, yet firmly grounded in its charism of inclusive and active love. Congratulations, Sally!”

While Sister Marcia first contacted Sister Sally about the project in 2009, she was not available to begin work on the project until October 2013 — her first visit to the Motherhouse in Concordia. Over the years since, she regularly returned to the Motherhouse archives three to four times a year to stay for three-week intervals.

Throughout the project she worked closely with Sister Bernadine Pachta, archivist for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

“Sally’s writing of our history is a great and enduring gift for us as a Community of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia and to all religious communities in the world,” Sister Bernadine said. “It was thoroughly researched using primary source material. Sally used books, articles, face-to-face interviews, visits, phone and email interviews. The material she has cited in the book is voluminous. No stone was left unturned.”

“I feel very privileged to work so closely with Sally, and indeed it was a learning experience,” Sister Bernadine said. “I tried to be as helpful as I could.”

This was not Sister Sally’s first venture into historical research and writing. She is the author of “A Hidden Spirit,” a 2014 book about the Sisters of the Holy Spirit of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and the 2005 book “Sisters of the North Country,” about the Sisters of St. Joseph of Watertown N.Y.

Yet, she said every Community reveals a different history.

“I already knew that each congregation is part of a particular place and carries within it the marks of the people and land of that place. In Concordia, I found the power of the daily faithfulness of sisters past and present and how this has been a gift to the area and to the world,” Sister Sally said. “The education, health care, and spiritual development among the people give evidence to daily life with sisters as neighbors. The land and sky of Kansas, with the particular loneliness and independence, have given their mark to the congregation. The small missions in western Kansas are good examples of this. In 1966, statistics from the national Sisters Survey confirmed the rural characteristic of this Community.”

“It was amazing to learn about the development of the Community in Brazil. It became so clear that the sisters were considered subversive when they dared to tell the people they had dignity as God’s children,” Sister Sally said. “All the sisters, Brazilian and North American, lived in danger just by doing their daily work. The entire history brings up all the issues of public life. The sisters’ entire lives, whether they were in small parishes or large institutions, were intertwined with the major happenings of the world.”

“I hope in some way this book will help future researchers of religious life. Many historians are interested in this field,” Sister Sally said. “My hope is that I might have provided some insight into this one congregation from the perspective of an ‘insider’ to religious life. And for all of this, I am grateful.”

The book, published by Word Association Publishers, spans 541 pages and contains 30 black and white photographs. The extensive appendices includes a list of all living sisters as of March 2020, as well as all deceased sisters.

The book is available for purchase at the Nazareth Motherhouse gift shop in Concordia, Kansas. While the Motherhouse is currently closed to visitors due to Covid-19 restrictions, the book can be ordered for shipping or curbside pickup by calling Jane Wahlmeier, administrative services coordinator, at (785) 243-2113 ext. 1101 or emailing

Sisters of St. Joseph stand against racism

June 3, 2020 by  

We, Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas, cry out against the unjust murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin. His use of unnecessary deadly force against an unarmed man, who is Black, speaks volumes about the blatant racism so obvious in our nation.

In addition, we stand in support of the nonviolent protests that are happening across the nation. This cry for justice for George Floyd and People of Color who have been victimized by police or other entities calls for radical change in many systems that we have grown accustomed to in the US. It also calls for laws to limit the unnecessary use of force by police officers, as well as hold them accountable before the law.

We join with all Sisters of St. Joseph in the United States in support of our common statement: on Racism.pdf

We also stand with religious women across the United States in their statement:…/news/lcwr-condemns-killing-george-floyd

As daughters and sons of God, we claim anew our brothers and sisters as our dearest neighbors. We renew our commitment to address our own racism and that of this nation as well.

Sincerely, Leadership Council
Sisters Jean Rosemarynoski, Therese Blecha, Mary Jo Thummel, Marilyn Wall and Janet Lander

Justice & Peace Coordinators
Sisters Chris Meyer and Judy Stephens
Date: June 3, 2020

Manna House of Prayer releases new cookbook

April 23, 2020 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 or call 785-243-4428.

Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia closed to visitors

March 16, 2020 by  

Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia will be closing to visitors

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia are taking the following measures to prevent our sisters, employees and the public from becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus that is spreading throughout the world.

  • Effective immediately, no visitors may enter the Nazareth Motherhouse. This includes patrons who use the Motherhouse swimming pool.
  • All programming at Manna House of Prayer has been canceled until further notice.
  • There will be no public masses at the Sacred Heart Chapel at the Nazareth Motherhouse.
  • All programs at Neighbor to Neighbor in Concordia have been canceled and N2N will be closed for as long as Concordia public schools are closed.
  • Anyone seeking assistance from the Helping Hands ministry at Manna House of Prayer should call ahead at (785) 243-4428 and ask for Susan LeDuc or Cecilia Thrash to make an appointment to address their needs. There will be no walk-ins.

The Sisters of St. Joseph are actively doing their part in curtailing the spread of this disease. We will keep you updated on any changes to the policy. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Sister Jean Ann Walton recognized at Veterans art festival

March 2, 2020 by  

Sister Jean Ann Walton, of Concordia, was honored to have her textile artwork selected to be in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center auditorium on Feb. 28.

Sister Jean Ann Walton, left, with Christina Vasquez, Veteran’s Art Show coordinator, stand in front of her quilt, “Mom’s Lilac Bush.”

Her quilt, titled “Mom’s Lilac Bush,” was selected in the knotting, needlework, quilling and beadwork category.

The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival (NVCAF) is the celebration and grand finale stage show, art and writing exhibition that is the culmination of talent competitions in art, creative writing, dance, drama and music for veterans treated in the Department of Veterans Affairs national heath care system.

VA medical facilities incorporate creative arts into their recreation therapy programs to further rehabilitation for both inpatients and outpatients. This annual competition recognizes the progress and recovery made through that therapy, and raises the visibility of the creative achievements of our nation’s veterans after disease, disability or life crisis.

Sister Jean Ann is a Marine veteran, serving from 1969-1975 as an illustrator and drill instructor. She graduated Wichita State University in 1978 with a bachelors degree in fine arts and in 1980 with a bachelors in art education. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia in 2007 and professed vows in 2010. She currently lives at Manna House of Prayer assisting with retreat work.


Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia honors employees

February 26, 2020 by  

Pam Huber

Carlene Edwards

Vicky Thoman

Susan LeDuc

Sheri Krause

Katy Brown

Joy Bliss

Barbara Kortman

Tina Goff

Cindy Dunlap

Kim Brownell

Mary Walker





Twelve employees of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia were honored
Feb. 25 at the 2020 Employee Appreciation Banquet at the Nazareth

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

The theme of the evening was “Mardi Gras,” with each beautifully
decorated table highlighted with fanciful Mardi Gras decorations made by
Sister Ramona Medina with help from volunteers.

Sister Jean Rosemarynoski, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of
Concordia, opened the evening using the Mardi Gras theme.
“Our theme for our dinner this year is Mardi Gras. Mardi
Gras is hundreds of years old and has a rich tradition,” Sister Jean
said. “Chris Rose is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, and after
Hurricane Katrina where the people of New Orleans really needed Mardi
Gras, Chris Rose wrote that Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the
harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our eccentricities, our
neighborhoods, our creativity and our joy of living all coming together
at once.”

“And Chris Rose goes on to say Mardi Gras has many life lessons to teach
us. And that of the many he mentions I found two to be the most
important. The first is to be neighborly and to be patient,” Sister Jean
said. “The second is team building. That is why we chose this theme. I
often tell a story that goes along with the theme, but tonight, you are
the story. That the lessons of Mardi Gras: the hospitality, the team
building, the helping one another … you are the story. You live the
story of Mardi Gras.”

“You are the living example of the very best of Mardi Gras. So we
celebrate all of you,” Sister Jean said. “And as I’ve told you before,
but I cannot say it often enough, we not only believe, but we know we
have Concordia’s very finest. We are humbled and grateful that out of
all the employers in this area, you chose us.”

Sister Marilyn Wall led the assembly in prayer. Sister Mary Jo Thummel
acted as master of ceremonies conducting drawing prizes throughout the

The employees honored, listed with their length of service, are:
Vicky Thoman, 40 years
Susan LeDuc, 30 years
Carlene Edwards, 25 years
Joy Bliss, 20 years
Barbara Kortman, 15 years
Tina Goff, 10 years
Pam Huber, 10 years
Sheri Krause, 10 years
Mary Walker, 10 years
Kim Brownell, 10 years
Cindy Dunlap, 5 years
Katy Brown, 5 years

In addition to the elegant meal provided by the Nazareth Motherhouse
food service staff under the direction of Larry Metro, door prizes were
randomly drawn throughout the night for baked goods, gift certificates
to local eateries and bowl warmers.

A PowerPoint slide presentation showed photos of all the honorees at
work, while various sisters spoke to how each of the employees are
appreciated for their contributions to the workplace.

Vicky Thoman, the 40-year honoree, was particularly mentioned as this
being her first job out of high school … and her only job since then!

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.

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