Nazareth Mother House Plant Sale will be May 8

March 29, 2021 by  

The annual Nazareth Motherhouse Plant Sale is set for 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 8 — a perfect time to shop before Mother’s Day on May 9.
This year’s sale will be outside, and social distancing and the wearing of masks will be requested.
Assistant Director of Development Ambria Gilliland, along with the Motherhouse Organic Gardener Lyle Pounds, have been hard at work this winter planning some unique new offerings for this year.
In addition to the fan-favorite hanging baskets, this year will feature an array of amazing succulents in creative settings that will be sure to be a topic of conversation in your garden or on the patio.
The sale will be behind the garages on the west side of the Motherhouse, 1300 Washington, Concordia, Kansas. We look forward to seeing you!

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

Sisters put pen to paper for Write for Rights

March 20, 2021 by  

Some of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia gathered together on the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 10, to participate in the annual Write for Rights campaign to honor International Human Rights Day.

“Write for Rights is a program of Amnesty International,” said Sister Anna Marie Broxterman, member of the Sisters’ Nonviolence Committee. “They send out letters about specific people who are imprisoned — and particularly in this year — in detention centers, who need to be freed because they have been treated unjustly.”

Sister Anna Marie said that Amnesty International has sent them the addresses of all of the embassies that need to be contacted, or in some cases the director of the detention centers.

“They send us information and their pictures. It tells us something about that person and their situation. They also send a mock letter to the embassy that we can use,” Sister Anna Marie said. “If anyone wants to write their own letter, there are instructions on how to do that effectively.”

Several tables in the Motherhouse dining room were covered with flyers containing the photos and the stories of this year’s group that Amnesty International found to be in urgent need of help. Also on the table was a stack of Motherhouse postcards created by Ambria Gilliland, assistant director of development, that the sisters could use to write directly to the incarcerated or detained person.

“If we want to send a card of solidarity to that person, we have postcards where we can write a brief note just to tell them that we are thinking of them and praying for them,” Sister Anna Marie said.

Another sheet in the room was a list of the persons who have been freed because of the letter writing campaigns.

“For this year, there was just one person from last year to whom we wrote that has had relief,” Sister Anna Marie said. “It also shows people from other years. We have been doing this for several years.”

“Today is Human Rights day, that’s why today is chosen to be the focal point for meetings such as this,” she said. “But I don’t have to have the letters postmarked until Jan. 31, so there is still time for people to be involved.”

Write For Rights is Amnesty International’s largest annual human rights campaign. People around the world write letters on behalf of people who need urgent help. If you are interested in writing, visit the Write for Rights website at for more information.


Reading with Friends will be a Facebook live event for March

March 10, 2021 by  

Reading with Friends at Neighbor to Neighbor will be a Facebook Live event at 10 a.m. March 19.

March’s book will be “The Welcome Wagon” written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld. This beautifully illustrated book tells a sweet story all about meeting new people and making new friends.

Instead of coming to Neighbor to Neighbor as usual, just go to the Neighbor to Neighbor Facebook page to tune in for the story with guest reader Sister Philonise Keithley at . Story time will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, March 19. The video will stay on the Facebook page after the reading for anyone to enjoy later, in case they can’t make it online 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 ahead of time (one per family).

“We will have books to pick up starting Monday, March 15, at Neighbor to Neighbor, so that the children can follow along in their own book as Sister Philonise reads,” Sister Missy said.

Sister Missy encourages everyone who is preregistered to pick up their books between 9 a.m. Monday, March 15, and 4 p.m. Thursday, March 18, at Neighbor to Neighbor.

The story times for children 3 to 5 years old are normally on the second Fridays of the month and all begin at 10 a.m. This month’s event is a week later to accommodate spring break. To register, call Neighbor to Neighbor at 785/262-4215 or email

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.

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.






Manna House to offer Lenten Retreat series

February 16, 2021 by  

The season of Lent inspires many people to take a step back and examine their lives and their Faith. This year, Manna House of Prayer in Concordia is offering a six-part Lenten series, both in person and available online via Zoom, to help with that introspective process. Zoom will allow people to participate from a distance, or simply from the comfort of their own homes.

The series will begin 7 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24, and continue from 7 to 8 p.m. on each Wednesday evening throughout the Lenten season. Each week will feature a different topic and speaker. Cost is $10 per session, or $50 for all six sessions. Pre-registration is required. To register, call Manna House at 785-243-4428, email, or register online at Make sure that you let Manna House know if you will be attending in person or online so that a Zoom link will be sent.

Dates and topics are:

Feb. 24: Lenten Series week one — Knowing Jesus. Presenter: Sister Mary Jo Thummel. Let’s take a journey in the life of Jesus. Who is Jesus to each of us? How do we come to relate with Jesus more deeply?  What does the life of Jesus say to how we live our own lives? 

March 3: Lenten Series week two — God’s Purpose for our Lives and Our Deepest Desire. Presenter: Sister Janet Lander. Do you want to follow Christ? What does that mean in these times, in our ordinary lives? Can we really know and do God’s will?

March 10: Lenten Series week three — Something’s Broken. Presenter: Sister Gilla Dubé. Life is difficult. In our vulnerable moments, it seems easy to make choices that do not always bring healing. Regardless of the choices we make, God loves us deeply and responds to the broken parts of our lives with love and forgiveness and desires that we do the same towards ourselves and others.

March 17: Lenten Series week four — Finding God in All Things. Presenter: Sister Jean Ann Walton. We can find God in all things, in the storm and in the calm, in the laughter and in the tears, in friends and in enemies, even in a can of worms. So how can we do this?

March 24: Lenten Series week five — Collaborating With Christ. Presenter: Sister Dian Hall. Our call as Christians is to collaborate with Christ in building up God’s kingdom here among us. How do we respond to this call in the midst of poverty, violence, and injustice? How are we to be living signs of Christ’s active, inclusive love in a world where there is so much division?

March 31: Lenten Series week six — God’s Love and our Response. Presenter: Sister Betty Suther. As we contemplate Jesus’ resurrection, we collaborate with God’s action in the world.  How do we integrate prayer and service, contemplation in action?  What is God calling me to do, to be?

Manna House of Prayer is a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. It is located at 323 E. 5th in Concordia, Kansas.


Sisters celebrate employees during Employee Appreciation Week

February 8, 2021 by  

Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia to honor six employees

Six employees of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia will be honored the week of Feb. 8-12 at the Nazareth Motherhouse for their years of service in “Employee Appreciation Week.”

Due to Covid-19 precautions, the annual Employee Appreciation Banquet had to be cancelled. This year, each honored employee has been invited to join the sisters for lunch on different days of the week where the sisters can express their appreciation to them for their years of dedicated service.

While there is no annual event, during the week the sisters will be hosting drawings where all employees can win prizes.

The employees and their years of service are:

Linda Chartier, 20 years

Sherri LeDuc, 10 years

David Sprague, 10 years

Mary Boyer, five years

Ambria Gilliland, five years

Myrna Shelton, five years

“How blessed we are to have such competent and committed employees,” Sister Marilyn Wall, Leadership Council, said.

“Even though this year will be much different, please know of the deep gratitude the sisters have for each of you,” President Jean Rosemarynoski, CSJ, expressed. “We are very blessed by your presence among us and the outstanding work you do!”

‘Nobody Hugs a Cactus’ is N2N’s featured book

February 8, 2021 by  

Reading with Friends at Neighbor to Neighbor will return in February as a Facebook Live event at 10 a.m. Feb. 12.

This month’s book will be “Nobody Hugs a Cactus” by Carter Goodrich.

Goodrich, the celebrated artist and lead character designer for Brave, Ratatouille, and Despicable Me, shows that sometimes, even the prickliest people — or the crankiest cacti — need a little love.

Marian Condray will be the guest reader for this Facebook Live virtual event. Story time will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 12.

Instead of coming to Neighbor to Neighbor as usual, just go to the Neighbor to Neighbor Facebook page to tune in for the story. The video will stay on the Facebook page after the reading for anyone to enjoy later in case they can’t make it online 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 ahead of time (one per family) so they can follow along at home.

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 for the book, call Neighbor to Neighbor at 785/262-4215 or email

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.

Warm up with the January 2021 Messenger

February 2, 2021 by  

Be sure to check out this winter’s Messenger that is full of news about our Sisters being active and helping their communities, news about the 2021 Jubilarians and the kick off of our new series on immigration.

If you would like to be on the Messenger mailing list, just give Laura Hansen in the Development Office a call or email at: 785-243-2113 ext. 1221, To read online, just click on the page below and use the magnifying glass tool to zoom in and use the X tool to make it full sized so you can enjoy the full page.



Video of Funeral Mass and Eulogy for Sister Therese Blecha

January 7, 2021 by  

Please click this link to view the video of the Funeral Mass of Sister Therese Blecha which took place Jan. 7, 2021 at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia.


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