Spring brings a new Messenger — click to read online!

May 3, 2021 by  

Be sure to check out this spring’s Messenger that is full of news about our Sisters being active and helping their communities, news about the 2021 Spaghetti Dinner and the continuation 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, lhansen@csjkansas.org. 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.

 

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 https://write.amnestyusa.org/ 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 www.facebook.com/N2NConcordia . 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 neighbortoneighbor@csjkansas.org.

The monthly program has been a part of Neighbor to Neighbor’s regular offerings since September 2012. Neighbor to Neighbor is located at 103 E. 6th St. in downtown Concordia.

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 retreatcenter@mannahouse.org, or register online at www.mannahouse.org. 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. www.facebook.com/N2NConcordia 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 neighbortoneighbor@csjkansas.org.

The monthly program has been a part of Neighbor to Neighbor’s regular offerings since September 2012. Neighbor to Neighbor is located at 103 E. 6th St. in downtown Concordia.

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, lhansen@csjkansas.org. 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.

https://fb.watch/2T1kOpRTMN/

 

Eulogy for Sister Therese Blecha — April 15, 1941 – Jan. 4, 2021

January 6, 2021 by  

All of us, when reflecting on who Therese was at her core, have our own descriptions. What comes to mind for me is faithfulness. Faithfulness. When writing to Mother Helena asking to enter the novitiate in 1963, Therese wrote, “I have learned a great deal about God and loving and doing all for Him; the more I learn the more I desire to know and serve Him alone and so goes the cycle of love.” She further asked for God’s grace to “help her with that until He shall call me from this life.” That was Therese’s deepest hunger all those many years ago. Even with her diagnosis of Wegener’s Disease and especially in these past weeks we saw her remain resolutely steadfast in that desire.

Therese was born in Belleville, Kansas, on April 15, 1941 and baptized Eloise Ann. She was the second of six children born to Ernest and Eleanor Baxa Blecha. She had an older brother, Richard, and after her came Marjorie, Marie, Cathie and David. They grew up on a farm. She was educated in a one-room school house but said there were always three or four other kids in my elementary classes.

Therese’s main interests in high school were studying science, playing the flute in the band and singing in the chorus. She was homecoming queen during her senior year.

Therese had gone to public schools and so did not have contact with religious sisters except during Vacation Bible School in grade school.

After high school graduation one of her friends enrolled in Marymount College in Salina and so Therese was attracted to Marymount. Her advisor was S. Mary Grace who deepened her interest in chemistry. After her sophomore year she did mission work with Fr. Wempe in Alma, Kansas. This mission work including visiting all the homes in his parishes to talk about their family life but also to talk about their religious beliefs and practices. The home visits included non-Catholics as well as Catholics. Therese found this time very inspiring and life-giving. It helped her decide what she wanted to do with her life. She remembered the sisters from Vacation Bible School and those she knew at Marymount and entered the Sisters of St. Joseph at the end of her junior year. Incidentally, she entered the postulancy on her parents’ 25th wedding anniversary.

When she received the habit in August 1963 she was given the name Mary Therese. Later, in writing to Mother Helena asking to make temporary vows, Therese said, “The novitiate has enabled me to gain a deeper insight into religious life. I have begun to realize that the ordinary religious doesn’t travel the road the sanctity by jet but rather she must travel it day by day, sacrifice by sacrifice, trial by trial, with untiring effort. It may indeed be stormy weather at times but it is these difficulties which add to the joy of the religious for they are only visible proofs of God’s love.” After novitiate she returned to Marymount and graduated with a double major in chemistry and biology.

She began her teaching career at Saints Peter and Paul High School in Boonville, Missouri. As Therese said, “This was a challenge as I thought I knew everything about teaching but I quickly found out that I really didn’t know much at all. With the help of Sister Alexine Marie, I made it through the first year.” It was an exciting time because in addition to teaching all day, she helped with the music program, started the science fair, was in charge of class plays and proms, was the girls physical education teacher as well as head coach for girls’ softball, basketball and track. It was while coaching that Therese changed from the habit into secular clothing discovering it made running up and down the basketball court much easier.

Therese had a healthy ability to laugh at herself. She tells the story of being at Sacred Heart High School in Salina and deciding to change her teaching method from one of lecture-based to hands-on learning. After a while she asked the students how they liked this new method. They said, “Sister, this is so much better because you are so much less grouchy.” With a laugh Therese said she interpreted that in the most favorable sense and decided that meant that they got more individual attention.

Therese was asked to be a house parent at St. Joseph’s Children’s Home in Salina. She found working with children who are not wanted by their parents a real challenge but Therese threw herself into that and worked to make each child feel cared for and loved. Throughout the years since then Therese often told many stories from the Children’s Home because that ministry touched her so deeply.

Therese was an educator par excellence. She was a lifelong student herself. She had a degree from Marymount with a double major in chemistry and biology, a Master’s from the University of North Dakota in chemistry and biology, a second Master’s from Kansas State University in organic chemistry and a PhD from Kansas State University in chemical education.

Therese continued to be fascinated with nature, astronomy and natural things created by God. She had a special passion for wanting to teach people about science who were not scientifically minded. Her dissertation for her PhD was on the “Development of Demonstrations and Models to be used in Classes for Non-chemistry Majors.” Her whole purpose was to enable those students to develop a positive attitude and appreciation of science. She wanted others to experience that same joy of being in awe of God’s creation that she did.

After Marymount College closed she taught at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana, where she earned full professorship and tenure. Again, wanting to impart her love for science she developed a curriculum for teachers of elementary students enabling them to teach physics and chemistry to younger students. They were hands-on courses and she wanted teachers to teach the basic principles of science in a way that was fun and would encourage students to continue learning throughout their life.

In 1993 the Leadership Council challenged her again asking her to become treasurer of our Congregation. She accepted that position after much discernment and prayer. Therese acknowledged that she had no knowledge of accounting and financial management so, characteristic of Therese, she immediately threw herself into taking classes at the local community college and Kansas Wesleyan. Therese did find it difficult to go from being in a classroom interacting with people to being somewhat, as she said, “cloistered” in an office. In fact, she described that as quite traumatic for her but again we see the thread of faithfulness throughout her life. She threw herself into attending national meetings of treasurers, working with sisters and continuing to educate herself. That was Therese – willing to do whatever was needed. She held that position for 14 years leaving it in June 2008.

More recently, Therese served on the Leadership Council and served a second term as Vice-president of the Congregation She was just a few months into serving as vice-president when she became critically ill and was diagnosed with Wegener’s Disease. The disease affected her eyesight, her hearing, the loss of her hair, kidneys and more. Although Therese never complained it was a terrible burden for her to constantly wonder if her next pain or cough was a simple everyday pain or cough or whether it was the disease flaring up. Yet, when she could Therese continued to go into the office and serve the community as best she could.

Therese’s fervent desire prayed as a very young woman, “To know and serve God alone – the cycle of Love” can be seen in everything Therese did – her various ministries, her love of family and her Czech heritage – so proud of the people of Belleville, Cuba and surrounding areas, her appreciation for tasting beer from other countries, her affinity for music often cantering at mass, her true delight in following favored sports teams, her joy in God’s creation. One of Therese’s most notable attributes was her acceptance of people just as they were. Therese genuinely assumed the best in people.

Therese always said that her most precious possessions were her faith and her prayer life but quickly added that these would not be possible if not for the faith and prayer life of her community, family and friends. We bid farewell to Therese trusting her words that we have influenced her life and knowing that she has gifted us with her life and example in more ways than we can even know.

 

 

 

Obituary for Sister Therese Blecha — April 15, 1941 – Jan. 4, 2021

January 5, 2021 by  

Sister Therese Blecha died Jan. 4, 2021, at Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia, Kansas. She was 79 years old and a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia for 57 years. She was born in Belleville, Kansas, on April 15, 1941, to Ernest and Eleanor Baxa Blecha, the second of six children, and was baptized Eloise Ann. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on Sept. 8, 1962. On Aug. 14, 1963, Eloise received the habit of the Sisters of St. Joseph and was given the name Sister Therese. She pronounced first vows on Aug. 15, 1964 and final vows on Aug. 15, 1969.

Sister Therese began her undergraduate studies at Marymount College in 1959. Upon completion of her novitiate she returned to Marymount and completed her bachelor’s of science degree with a double major in chemistry and biology in 1965. For the next four years she taught in Boonville, Missouri, before returning to Sacred Heart High School in Salina where she taught from 1969-71. Therese began graduate work in 1973 and by 1976 she had completed all course work for her master’s degree and then a second master’s degree. By 1981 she completed her research project in organic chemistry and received her Ph.D. from Kansas State University. She returned to Marymount to serve on the faculty from 1976 until the college closed in 1989. From 1989 until 1993 she taught chemistry at St. Joseph College in Rensselaer, Indiana.

In 1993 she was appointed as General Treasurer of the Congregation; a position she held until retiring in 2008. In 2012 she was elected to the Leadership Council of the Congregation; followed by being elected Vice President of the Congregation in 2016. Her term ended in July of 2020.

Sister Therese was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her brothers Richard, of Salina, and David, of Munden; sisters Marjorie Schmitz and Marie Chmidling, of Topeka, and Cathie Switzer, of Concordia. The Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 a.m. Jan. 7 in the Motherhouse Auditorium with Rev. Barry Brinkman presiding. The eulogist is Sister Jean Rosemarynoski. Due to the safety precautions for Covid-19, the funeral mass will be private. However, it will be livestreamed on the Sisters of St. Joseph Facebook page. The burial will be in the Nazareth Motherhouse Cemetery. Chaput-Buoy Mortuary, 325 W. Sixth St., Concordia, is in charge of arrangements. Memorials for Sister Therese Blecha may be given to the Sisters of St. Joseph Health Care/ Retirement Fund or the Apostolic Works of the Sisters; P.O. Box 279, Concordia, KS 66901.

To make an online donation in Sister Therese Blecha’s memory, click on the button below:

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