Annual Neighbor to Neighbor Holiday Boutique returns Saturday, Nov. 17

August 13, 2018 by  

The artisans at Neighbor to Neighbor create with all kinds of materials — acrylics and oils, embroidery floss and ribbon, and (of course) sugar, flour, eggs, butter and chocolate.

And all that “art” will be for sale at the seventh annual Holiday Boutique & Bake Sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at the downtown center, 103 E. Sixth St., Concordia.

Items featured in the boutique include one-of-a-kind jewelry, handcrafted holiday décor, artwork, knit scarves and hats, quilted items, children’s clothes and toys, women’s apparel and unique handkerchief dresses for girls. The always popular bake sale will feature cookies, candies, breads and other goodies. All the items are made by the women who come to the center, along with friends and supporters of the Sisters of St. Joseph who operate Neighbor to Neighbor.

There also will be a silent auction and a drawing for five prizes:

• A trunk full of chocolate
• A hand-crafted quilt
• A baby doll in a basket
• A sled full of coffee and tea
• A Barbie doll with a wicker-trunk wardrobe.

Tickets for the drawings are available at Neighbor to Neighbor; the Nazareth Motherhouse, 1300 Washington St.; and Manna House of Prayer, 323 E. Fifth St., Concordia. Tickets cost $1 each, or six tickets for $5. The drawing will be at 2 p.m. You need not be present to win.

Proceeds from the annual Holiday Boutique go to support the women and ministries of Neighbor to Neighbor.

Eulogy for Sister Patricia Helen Neihouse

July 27, 2018 by  

VIGIL: July 26, 2018, at the Nazareth Motherhouse
EULOGIST: Sister Janet Lander

Sister Patricia Helen Neihouse begins her life review with Mary’s prayer of praise: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” (Lk. 1:46) May the story of her life which we recall with gratitude at this time truly be a prayer of praise. For, as that prayer continues, ‘God who is mighty has done great things for me. Holy is God’s name.'” God has done great things in and through her life.

Pat Neihouse was born July 25, 1936, to John and Inez Ella Foulke Neihouse. She was the fifth of their 13 children, six of whom have predeceased her: Margaret Bruce, Marie Lewis, Joan Lust, Julia Ann Wooldridge, Janet Neihouse and Mary Louise Neihouse, who died at birth. Her parents, too, have gone before her. And now, her sister Mary Catherine Billinger has joined her in eternal life. Sister  Pat is survived by her siblings: Elizabeth Hoggatt, John Neihouse, Virginia Gross, James Neihouse and Gerry Parker, as well as nieces and nephews, and extended family.

Pat was baptized at Sacred Heart Cathedral and attended both the elementary and secondary schools there. Her parents valued Catholic education. She loved school and was a good student. In her life review, with fondness, she remembered the Sisters of St. Joseph and others who were her teachers. She was a tomboy who loved sports. She reminisced that when she was small she was always losing her hair ribbons. Later, she played on basketball and baseball teams.

One of her special memories from her growing up years was having her Grandma Neihouse live in their home with them. When she later entered religious life her dad said to her, “You know it was because of your grandma.” Pat also gives credit to Father Wasinger who accompanied the Legion of Mary and impressed her with his help given to alcoholics and to the needy. He supported her desire to be a Sister of St. Joseph, encouraging her to write to Mother Helena.

Pat entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on Sept. 8, 1954, part of a band of 14 postulants. Most left religious life in the late ’60s and early ’70s. She is survived by band members Sisters Bernadine Pachta and Agnes Irene Huser. After she made first vows in 1956, she spent a year studying at Marymount College. She then taught in Concordia, followed by one year at Cure D’ars in Leawood, Kan. On March 19, 1959, Sister Patricia made final vows. She finished her studies at Marymount and left for Belém, Pará, Brazil on Feb. 22, 1963, with Sister Patricia Vaughan. She arrived in Teresina, Piauí, Brazil on June 25, 1963, with Sisters Margarida, Rose Dominic, and David, beginning more than 50 years of missionary work. She reflected in her life review: “As I look back upon my years in Brazil, I find myself, along with others, in the midst of a new vision of the Church in the world. How many times the Redemptorist priests and we sisters studied the documents as they were being written during the Vatican II Council. We were very excited to put into practice what these documents meant for us and the people of God.”

Sister Pat was enthusiastic about the formation of the laity, helping them to grow psychologically and spiritually.

Over her years of mission work in Brazil she worked in parishes in Teresina and Amarante. She accompanied workers, and tried to help the poor improve their living conditions, coordinating fundraising for aid to the poorest on the periphery of Escalvado, including beginning a community garden. She also worked in the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office, after completing a preparatory course in catechetics. Between 1967 and 1976 she completed other certificate courses in areas of psychology and counseling, and a course for those who would become religious formators.

In the years that followed, she took on many other ministries: retreats and spiritual direction, directing Bible groups, Novice Director, Coordination of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brazil, Coordinator of the National Conference of Religious of Brazil in Brazil’s northeast, and teaching Enneagram workshops.

When the Congregation opened a mission in Nova Esperança, in the southern part of Pará, Sisters Janira, Augusta and Rita went with Pat to work with nine base ecclesial communities, living among the people in a little house with a thatched roof. In the Diocese of Conceição do Araguaia they helped the poor to learn about their faith and about human rights, and how to improve their health.

Upon returning to Teresina, she resumed giving Enneagram workshops touching the lives of more than 4,000 vowed religious, priests, bishops and seminarians, as a means of self-knowledge, personal growth and spiritual deepening.

About 10 years ago, when Pat’s sister Jan became ill, Pat spent over a year in the United States. Part of this time was spent caring for Jan. However, Pat also took time for personal renewal. She made the Sarah Sabbatical and also the Bearers of the Tradition programs at Manna House of Prayer. She reflected on the latter saying, “Once again I confirmed my consciousness of how beautiful a gift God gave us as Sisters of St. Joseph, our Charism. Together, with many Sisters of St. Joseph of other states and nations, I shared and received new insights. It was a time of joy and gratitude for having been able to participate.”

Pat returned to Brazil, and resumed ministries in leadership, religious formation and and other ministries. She was blessed by being present for the 50th anniversary celebration of the foundation of the Brazil Mission and her own 60th jubilee of religious life. When Sister Alexsandra took on the study of English, Pat mentored her through opportunities for conversation in English. When I had the privilege of spending six weeks with our sisters in Brazil in 2014, Pat also took me under her wing until I regained enough Portuguese to speak for myself. She was a gracious hostess.

On Nov. 9, 2017, Pat returned to Concordia due to illness. Leaving Brazil did not end her relationship with the sisters there. She continued to write emails and communicate with them through technology, until that became impossible. Since her passing on Sunday morning, I have received various messages of grief from some of the sisters in Brazil. Their Regional Coordinator, Sister Nair, also wrote to let us know that every night the sisters and many others who loved Irma Patrícia, have been saying a rosary for her. Saturday, they will celebrate her life at the “Seventh Day Mass,” a memorial Mass in St. Joseph’s Church in Teresina, with all the sisters, the Redemptorist priests, parishioners and many of Pat’s friends present.

Pat appreciated her five months at the Motherhouse in Stafford Hall, grateful for the care she received and the time she spent with the sisters, especially playing rummy. She loved to go swimming and be outside. Her illness made it necessary to move to Mount Joseph on April 5, 2018. She has expressed gratitude for the faithfulness of family and community members who have visited her, for the care offered by staff and our sisters who minister at Mt. Joseph, and for the little things like jigsaw puzzles, card games with Sister Lucy, watching the birds outside her window, and an abundance of correspondence, even though her illness and “saudades” or longing for the Brazilian community caused significant suffering.

On Sunday, July 22, Pat slipped quietly into the heart of God. In the last part of Pat’s life one of the books she was using for meditation was a translation of “The Sacrament of the Present Moment” by Jean-Pierre Caussade, SJ, an 18th century spiritual classic. In it, the author encourages the reader to live in the moment, finding God present, and abandoning oneself to Christ in every aspect of daily life, accepting even obstacles and finding peace. It appears that Pat so took the message to heart that she shone with its transforming grace. In her life review, she quotes Father Caussade who said, “To live by faith then is to live in joy, confidence, certainty and trust in all there is to do and suffer each moment as ordained by God.”

Pat, indeed, you lived each moment with generous courage and humility. In our tradition as Sisters of St. Joseph, this is to live the zeal of Jesus. And as Jean-Pierre Caussade said, “The way opens up before us as we walk, and we follow it with unfaltering steps.”

With new unfaltering steps may you follow Jesus into the life of unending Love.

Memorials for Sister Patricia Neihouse 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 Patricia Neihouse’s memory, click on the button below:



The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia condemn the ongoing violence in Nicaragua

July 24, 2018 by  

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas stand as one with the following statement of  the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in regards to their condemnation of the ongoing violence and injustices in Nicaragua.

Click on the link below for a downloadable pdf.


Sin and salvation topics of 2018 Theological Institute

July 20, 2018 by  

Dr. Nancy Pineda-Madrid was the speaker for the 2018 Theological Institute held July 12-15 at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia. Her topic was “Salvation and the Community of Faith.”

Dr. Pineda-Madrid is an associate professor of Theology and Latino/a Ministry, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry; vice president, International Network of Society of Catholic Theology; past-president, Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States; and author of “Suffering and Salvation in Ciudad Juarez,” and “Hope: Promise, Possibility and Fulfillment.”

“It is the violence in Ciudad Juarez that has forced me to ask questions about salvation,” she said during the opening night of the Institute. “The border region is very much a part of my interest in salvation. We’ll be looking at salvation and what it means to confront the broken and fragmentary experience of our lives, and how Jesus and the Church provide that release.”

The Institute began with a discussion and reflection on the nature of sin, both personal and social.

“We live in a time right now where we have to ask ourselves, when is fear a sin?” Dr. Pineda-Madrid said.

Following the discussion of the nature of sin, three models of salvation were presented over the course of four days: salvation as expiation or atonement; salvation as liberation, and salvation as divinization or transforming love. Each model was explained through Scripture and texts, as well as by putting it into the context of theological figures in history.

“I want to present us with a range of models of salvation,” she said as she gave the group a roadmap of the upcoming days of study. “There are a lot of ways to think about salvation. They aren’t mutually exclusive; they spill into each other.”

Dr.Pineda-Madrid grew up near the border in El Paso, Texas. She is the niece of Sister Esther Pineda, CSJ (deceased). Her parents, Gus and Rachel, attended the institute. Gus is Sister Esther’s brother.

The Sisters of St. Joseph established the annual Theological Institute a way to continue their long-standing educational tradition, exemplified by the schools they founded and staffed, including Marymount College in Salina. The program is held each summer in Concordia.

The 2019 Theological Institute is scheduled for July 18-21 and will feature Dr. Shannen Dee Williams, speaking on the topic, “The Sin of Racism.” Dr. Williams is the author of the book “Subversive Habits: Black Nuns and the Long Struggle to Desegregate Catholic America.” Her study chronicles the epic journey of black Catholic sisters in the United States from their fiercely contested beginnings in the nineteenth century to the present day. For more information on reserving a spot for the 2019 Theological institute, email


Eulogy for Sister Margaret Rourke — Dec. 23, 1947 – June 1, 2018

June 11, 2018 by  

VIGIL: June 11, 2018, at the Nazareth Motherhouse
EULOGIST: Sister Marilyn Wall

“As for your zeal, it will always be proportionate to the love for God in your heart; see that it springs from a great love and it will be great.” 

— Maxims of Perfection, Chapter XI, No.1

Sister Margaret Rourke was born on a very cold night, Dec. 23, 1927, at her family’s farm home, 11 miles northwest of McCracken, in the southeast corner of Trego County.  She was baptized, Margaret Louise, at St. Mary’s Church in McCracken on Jan. 14, 1928. She was the fifth of seven living children.

Of her childhood, she said, “I grew up close to the soil and close to nature. As a child I spent time contemplating the vastness of the sky and its distance from the earth. I loved to explore the green pastures, play in the waterholes after a rain, climb hills with my brothers and sisters and play imaginary games under the trees or on the hillside.”

Margaret talked about one of her earliest awakenings about God. It was on a bright Sunday morning when she was about five years old. The family was riding to church with the five oldest children seated in the back and she was sitting on a cream can, as was customary.  She asked, “When will we be finished going to Church?”

Her mother and the others tried to explain that they would never get finished. “We will go every Sunday every year all the time.” She said that was unfathomable to her, but it caused her to ponder who this God might be and what was he like.

One of the things she said she really lacked was social interactions with children outside her family and relatives. She went to a one-room school with about 10 students. She had one classmate through third grade, and that classmate was her cousin, Marjorie Rourke. After third grade, Marjorie’s family moved and Margaret was the only one in her class. However, she said her high school years were a good contrast.

When Margaret was ready for high school, her two older sisters, Lucille and Eileen, who had stayed home a year to help during their mother’s illness, were ready for their junior and sophmore years. The three of them stayed at an apartment that her family rented in Ellis and went to school there.

After high school, Margaret went to Marymount in Salina. She said that she felt early in her time there that she might be called to religious life … but she waited until the end of the year to talk about it just in case a young man might sweep her off of her feet. In the end, God’s call was clear. Margaret entered this community of St. Joseph on March 19, 1947 … 71 years ago. On March 19, 1948, she received the habit and the name Sister Mary Thomasine. Living band members are Sisters Christella Buser, Vivian Boucher and Mary Savoie.

Her first mission was Tipton where she taught grades 1, 2 and 3 (about 45 children). Sister Christella, who was in her band, was also in Tipton for the same five years. Her second mission was Leoville, where she taught the same grades but had only about 26 children. Also on that same mission in Leoville was Sister Ann Louis, her principal. The two of them became lifelong friends and supported each other in all areas and especially in their spiritual journeys. After two years in Cawker City, she was assigned to Sacred Heart High School to teach math which was a real stretch for her. But the biggest stretch was going to St. John’s High School in Beloit to teach biology, chemistry and physics. She had taken one course in chemistry seven years earlier and five hours in biology in summer school. With Sister Marie Kelly’s help she survived.

In her life review Sister Margaret relates, “The years after the Vatican II Council were both rocky and exciting. I considered my nine years in Clyde to be more growth-producing that any other nine years in my life.” At Clyde, Margaret worked with Sister Judy Stephens and an innovative team that offered catechetical education and pastoral support to several parishes in the region. In Margaret’s words, “The changes, the new ministry, my readiness to risk growing, my experience with the CPE course under Father Frost at Independence, Iowa, the many workshops, conventions, courses, congregational thrust toward renewal, friendships, outings and travels were all contributing factors.”  

Eventually, Margaret took a position in adult education and parish ministry at Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Overland Park, Kan. This position lasted for 12 years, and as in all of her ministries, she continued to grow in zeal and in her life with God.

Throughout her life Margaret was courageous in the cause of justice and relentless in the alleviation of poverty. In her “retirement” from active ministry she was mission coordinator for Appeals for our Brazilian Sisters. This she did with the same enthusiasm and diligence as she did everything else. For ten-plus years she organized parish presentations and did many of them herself. When her presentations took her to western Kansas or to Colorado she loved to spend an overnight with her family.

On the occasion of her 50th Jubilee she reflected, “For me this is a moment of facing the NOW at a deeper level of realization of how each of us has become who we are today because of our gifts … gifts that surfaced from our deepest center or gifts from one another and from all of creation.”

Margaret also maintained a close relationship with her family over the generations participating in and planning many family reunions and celebrations and being of help and support whenever someone needed her. Margaret was very close to her nieces and nephews. In these past years she has been a pivotal point for her nieces, who have loved to come here to Concordia from their various home bases to dote over and stimulate Margaret … and to find time to nourish their own relationships with one another. The sisters here in Concordia have also benefited from the joy and fun they bring.

Even as a resident at Mount Joseph, Margaret’s eyes have sparkled with zeal and acceptance. She has exemplified for me and many others the portrait of a Sister of St Joseph: “in her face the reflection proper to our Congregation — continual joy of spirit.  This is the quiet inner glow of the Sister whose life in the service of Jesus has been successful.”

Memorials for Sister Margaret Rourke 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 Margaret Rourke’s memory, click on the button below:



Spring into a new Messenger!

April 18, 2018 by  

Spring into a new Messenger

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The April edition of The Messenger is always an exciting one, and this year is no different. We have Sisters and Novices at the border, a Spaghetti Dinner recap, exciting news from the Marymount Alumni Association and a calendar bursting with activities for the future.

The print edition is in the mail today, and it’s available here right now as a flipbook. To open the flipbook edition, just click on the image below:



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Eulogy for Sister Therese Richstatter — Dec. 21, 1929 – April 13, 2018

April 16, 2018 by  

Vigil: 7 p.m. April 16, Nazareth Motherhouse
Eulogist: Sister Marilyn Wall

Live out your whole life with one desire only, to be what God desires you to be
In nature, grace and glory in time and in eternity.  (Maxim #73)

Sister Therese Richstatter was born on Dec. 21, 1929 in the Clay Center Hospital.  She was the youngest of two children with a sister named Frances who was a year and a half older than herself.  Her parents were Edward and Martha (Klemm) Richstatter and they lived on a farm south of Greenleaf, Kan. She was baptized in St. Michael’s Church in Kimeo and given the name Anna Elizabeth.

Kimeo, at that time, was a thriving and faith-filled community centered around the Catholic Church. There were families on practically every section and most of the families were large. There were two masses on Sunday morning and the Church was full for both masses. The Church was (and still is) large and beautiful, its steeple can be seen for miles around. Anna and her sister attended a one room school half a mile from their home.  On Saturdays they attended religious instructions.  The Sisters of St. Joseph taught religious vacation school every summer in Kimeo.  It was there that Anna first met our sisters. She and Frances received their First Holy Communion together.  Anna had just completed first grade.

Therese wrote in her life review: “I was born at the beginning of the depression and we were poor.  Because there were no boys in our family, my sister and I helped with the chores on the farm. I attended Green High School in Green, Kan.  I boarded with a family who owned a furniture store there. In high school I played basketball and was in the junior and senior plays.  It was in high school that I first felt called to religious life. I used to read missionary magazines and wanted to be a missionary.  I attribute my religious vocation primarily to my parents who set a good Christian example.  They never encouraged me to enter religious life and I felt that they would rather that I didn’t. But they never did anything to make it difficult for me to do so.”

 “After I graduated from high school in 1948, I worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Concordia. I entered the convent on Sept. 7, 1949.  I received the habit on March 19, 1950 and was given the name Agnes Therese.  I later dropped Agnes from my name.  I made final vows on March 19, 1954. The Novitiate was a most happy experience. There were 15 of us in our band.”

The only surviving members of her band are Sisters Alice Marie Stalker and Rita Ann Mazanec.

 “My mother died July 20, 1954 and my father died Dec. 16, 1958.  My sister, who had crippling arthritis since she was sixteen, died April 14, 1978.  This was one of the hard things for me.  When other sisters went home for visits, I had no family left to visit.”

Therese graduated from Marymount in 1967. She then earned a Master’s Degree in Theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. During her studies there she wrote a paper titled:  “Love in the Epistles of Paul” I will quote from that paper later and that is why the readings tonight and tomorrow at Mass are from St. Paul and on love.

 Therese loved her years of teaching, and said that one of her favorite years was her first mission year at St. Joseph and Ann School in Chicago. She also taught at Concordia, Clyde, Cawker City, Grand Island, Booneville, Tipton and Salina. She particularly enjoyed preparing students for First Holy Communion.  She also enjoyed being Sacristan, and later, Eucharistic Minister and taking communion to the sick wherever she was missioned. In 1987 she earned a Master’s Degree in Library Science from Emporia State University and then was librarian at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Topeka. She had a great love of learning and was very well read.

 Of her own spirituality, Therese said: “My experience of God is a constant presence, who has always been there in my life as long as I can remember”. 

In her composition on love, she identified this reality also: “Here faith does not mean adhering to God’s word so much as belonging to Christ in a gift of oneself to God which is so total that it permits God to communicate God’s life to us and to work in us.”

Is this not also an apt description of our ministry of presence?

Therese also, over the years of her ministry,  engaged in many activities as volunteer and this speaks to her love and compassion for people. She taught religion in Huntington Beach, Calif., in a program called Sonshine.  She also taught reading in a summer enrichment program on the Oneida Indian Reservation in Wisconsin. In Topeka, she volunteered at the public library and the Better Business Bureau, taught RCIA and passed mail on Saturday mornings at St. Francis Hospital. At Medaille, she volunteered in the Green Thumb Program.

 In her Commitment to Mission and Life Statement for the year 2015-2016, Therese spoke directly out of the experience of life that has been hers in her later years and once again identified her experience of presence to God.  “I sit and wait, unable to do my own care; I wait for when others decide it is time.  My prayer is waiting … waiting for meals, Mass, communion.  May God bless my waiting, and God’s desire in my life.”

Therese, your wisdom, knowledge, sense of humor and your givenness have enriched us all.  We are grateful for your life among us and know that now you are totally in God and present to us and encouraging us in all ways.

I would like to close with a blessing from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 3, verses 17-19.
“May Christ, who has dwelt in your heart through faith,
And has been the root of charity and the foundation of your life,
Enable you to grasp fully with all the holy ones,
The breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love,
And to experience this love which surpasses all knowledge,
So that you may attain to the fullness of God”.


Memorials for Sister Therese Richstatter 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 Richstatter’s memory, click on the button below:


Eulogy for Sister Barbara Bader — Jan. 13, 1923-April 7, 2018

April 11, 2018 by  

VIGIL: April 11, 2018, at the Nazareth Motherhouse
EULOGIST: Sister Mary Savoie

Let us tonight, not only pray for Sister Barbara, but also reflect with gratitude for her life among us as a Sister of St. Joseph.

I ask you to walk prayerfully with me during the next 20 to 30 minutes as I present a review of her life, first a biography, secondly information about her education and ministry experiences, and thirdly, and perhaps most important, some of the wonderful and touching inspirations Barbara leaves with each of us.

Aurelia Marie Bader was born, seventh of a family of nine children, January 13, 1923, on a farm in Rhineland, Mo. Her father, Leo Bader, and mother, Petronilla Buecker, raised four sons, Aloysius, Urban, Jerome and Henry, and five daughters, Theresa, Genevieve, Aurelia, Barbara and Nellie. Nellie is currently the only family member remaining and living in Giltner, Neb.

Aurelia Marie Bader, at the age of 19, on May 9, 1942, entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas. On March 19, 1943, she received the religious habit and the name of Sister Mary Barbara. She pronounced her first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience on March 19, 1944, and her final profession on August 15, 1947.
After completing her novitiate, Sister Barbara earned a B.A. from Marymount College in Salina, Kan., and a M.A. in Educational Administration and Counseling from Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. Sometime later, she completed training in psychology and became certified in counseling and as a spiritual director.
Sister Barbara’s ministries of teaching and serving as a principal took her to Chicago (1945-50) where she taught first-grade students; to Cawker City, Kan. (1951-54) to teach first through fourth grades; and to Damar, Kan., to serve as principal and teach first and second grades. In 1962, Sister Barbara was instrumental in establishing a new Catholic school in Oakley, Kan.; from 1968-71 she served as principal of the Catholic school in Beloit, Kan., and principal of the Catholic school in Manhattan, Kan., from 1972-79.

Her final active ministry was in Grand Island, Neb., from 1984-2003 where she served primarily as Director of Religious Education. In addition to all of this, during the last 12 summers of her active ministry, Sister Barbara served as Spiritual Director during retreats at the Jesuit Retreat Center in Sedalia, Colo.

Sister Barbara, at age 81, having given lovingly and generously to the service of the dear neighbor for a total of 59 years, on Oct. 17, 2004, retired to live her remaining years, filled with grateful prayers and kindness, at our Nazareth Motherhouse and Mount Joseph in Concordia, as she said: “to semi-retire and take up less demanding ministries.”

As Sister Barbara was preparing for her 70th Jubilee celebration as a Sister of St. Joseph, she was asked: “What best captures for you what these 59 years of active ministry meant to you?”

She quickly replied: “I loved working with children and their parents, their zest for life and new learning challenged me in my own vocation. Certainly, opening a new school in Oakley was a high point in my life as I witnessed the deep desire, sacrifices and enthusiasm of parents to enroll their children in a Catholic school. This convinced me even more of the importance of our teaching ministry as Sisters of St. Joseph. I must say, however, that my ministry in Grand Island was very special. Working so closely with dedicated parents and adult religious teachers taught me so much about my own faith and dependence on God.”
What was the driving force which propelled Sister Barbara through so many years of dedicated service to the dear neighbor?

Visiting personally with her during those years of her living at the Motherhouse and at Mount Joseph Nursing Care Center, and being able to read and reflect on the personal notes she kept during retreats, gave me a glimpse of an answer to that question.

There is no doubt in my mind that Sister Barbara had a deep and compelling desire to always grow in her knowledge and love of God. So often she quoted her favorite scripture passage: “The advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.”

During a recent retreat, Sister Barbara wrote this of herself: “My desire is to continue to strive to grow in the love of the Lord, to follow His lead and inspiration, and to give my entire attention to prayer and the love of those who assist me each day. I want to be ready to follow the Lord wherever and whenever He calls me. Most of all, I know that the Lord loves me and calls me to an ever closer relationship with Him. I want to take the Lord seriously and live my daily life honestly in terms of His love for me and my response to that love.”
Sister Barbara left this final message which she asked me to share tonight: “To all my dear family, relatives, and especially members of my religious community. I want you to rejoice and be happy knowing that I have now entered into the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. My one desire while on earth was to make a return for that great unconditional love I received from sharing with you my life and ministries as a Sister of St. Joseph. I thank you all, especially my loving family, members of my religious community and all who have helped me to grow and deepen my relationship with God. I will be praying for all of you from heaven until we once more will be united never more to be separated. God bless all of you!”

Thank you, dear friend, Sister Barbara Bader, for your life and love.

Memorials for Sister Barbara Bader 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 Barbara Bader’s memory, click on the button below:


Follow the Yellow Brick Road to annual Spaghetti Dinner

March 8, 2018 by  

Tickets are now available for the 2018 Sisters of St. Joseph Spaghetti Dinner, the biggest event of the year at the Nazareth Motherhouse, 1300 Washington, Concordia.

A winning raffle ticket could win the owner a new CharBroil grill, a hand-crafted quilt, a Keurig machine or cash prizes.

The dinner is set for Sunday, March 18, with dinner being served from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Advance dinner tickets cost $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 5-12, and are available at the Motherhouse, at Manna House of Prayer and at Neighbor to Neighbor. They are also available by calling the Sisters of St. Joseph Development Office, (785) 243-2113, ext. 1225, or emailing

Dinner tickets at the door will cost $10 for adults and $6 for children. (Children 4 and younger eat free.)

The theme of this year’s spring fundraiser is “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” and it features activities for the entire family, tours of the historic Motherhouse and performances by local musicians. There will be drawings for prizes of up to $500 cash, a silent auction and the popular “grab bag,” with gifts for $1, $2 and $3. Homemade baked goods and Easter baskets will be available for sale.

A variety of Easter baskets will be available for purchase.

Throughout the event, the Nazareth Gift Shop will be open.

Tickets for the drawing cost $1 each, or six tickets for $5. Ticket holders in the drawing choose which prize to try for. This year there are cash prizes of $500, $200 and $100, plus a CharBroil gas grill, a Keurig coffee maker and a 69” x 84” quilt constructed by Sister Betty Suther and hand-quilted by Sister Ann Glatter.

Winners will be drawn about 1:30 p.m., but you need not be present to win. Bidding in the silent auction will close at the same time.

In 2017, a record 625 people attended the sisters’ spaghetti dinner, which raised almost $11,000 to support the Concordia sisters and their ministries.

Eulogy for Sister Francis Margaret Otter: July 22, 1932 — March 3, 2018

March 5, 2018 by  

VIGIL: March 5, 2018, at the Nazareth Motherhouse
EULOGIST:  Sister Jean Rosemarynoski

Sister Francis Margaret left directions for her eulogy. It was to be “short, simple and to the point.” In fact, she said that on seven or eight separate sheets of paper, so I think she meant it. While I will try to honor her request, she lived a full and vibrant life and we want to do her justice.

Sister Francis Margaret was born at home on July 22, 1932, at 4 a.m. She was baptized the same day she was born. She was the second of eight children born to Frank and Margaret Otter and was given name Virginia Ann.

She often said she was welcomed into the family by her parents, older brother Alvin and his pet dog, Daboo.

A little over a year later, Sister Mary Esther was born. She was followed by her brother Marion, then Sister Donna and JoAnn. Francis Margaret was six years old when Donna was born. She shared how she felt that Donna was “her baby doll” and how she delighted in helping their Mother care for her. On her eleventh birthday, her youngest sister, JoAnn, was born. She felt like JoAnn was a special gift to her from God. Two other siblings, Rita and Emory, had died at birth.

Her ancestry on both sides was German and Irish so her parents were good practicing Catholics. She remembers that they attended two masses every Sunday morning and vespers in the afternoon.

They lived on a farm north of New Almelo, Kan., during the Depression years. Because of the drought, the crops were not productive and times were hard; but her parents had deep faith and trust in God. Young Virginia watched her parents during these years and, from their example, learned a deep faith. Yet when the family suffered the loss of the infant children Francis Margaret recalls questioning why a loving God would do this to their family. She began her quest for deeper intimacy with God at a very young age. She continued to be a spiritual seeker throughout her life.

As a child, even though times were lean, Sister Francis Margaret said the cellar was always full of canned vegetables and meat. They were well cared for and felt security in their family. Her parents took time to play with the children and she remembers playing softball on Sunday afternoons with her father.

Francis Margaret enjoyed sports especially playing softball and basketball. She was the pitcher on Father Sanders’ softball team.

One light-hearted story she told was walking home from school every afternoon. Alvin and Marion would always beat them home. The girls would take their time. Her mother would remind the girls to keep up with the boys. Francis Margaret remarked that trying to keep up with the boys was like “asking the unthinkable.”

She entered the convent just after completing high school. She wrote to Mother Chrysostom on her father’s stationary — it says Frank Otter, Clayton, Kansas, at the top. In her own handwriting she writes:

Dear mother,

I wish to tell you that I want to become one of your daughters. I have attended the retreat given at Marymount College and I believe I have received the wonderful inspiration of that vocation. It makes me happy to think that I want to join the Sisters of St. Joseph. I would like to enter in February. Yours sincerely, Virginia Otter, Clayton, Kansas.

She got her wish and entered on Feb. 1, 1951, a day with a huge blizzard. Her pastor at Saint Joseph’s Church in New Almelo, Father Sanders, brought her to Concordia. In his recommendation to Mother Chrysostom for her entrance, he wrote:

Virginia is one of those rare, ideal young ladies, which are rather hard to find these days. She will be a credit to any community. Virginia has never been away from home for any length of time and will probably become very homesick.

When she requested to make final vows, the letters of recommendation from community members said things such as, “she has a generosity and spirit of cooperation,” was commended for her teaching ability and Sister Mary Corona said she “has the distinctive marks of a good religious.”

She was naturally quiet and Sister Germaine said, “She is very, very shy. It surely would be to her advantage if she could overcome this timidity to some extent.”

She professed temporary vows on Aug. 15, 1952, and perpetual vows on Aug. 15, 1955. Her living band member is Sister Gerri Milke.

Francis Margaret earned a bachelor degree in social studies from Marymount College in 1965. Over the next several years she took specialized courses in math, reading and the Montessori Method of Education. She took classes from Dayton University in Ohio and San Francisco College in California. Her Montessori training was done in Kansas City, Mo.

Her first teaching assignment was at St. Joseph and Anne’s School in Chicago. Her parents had come to Concordia to hear the mission assignments read and they were in Francis Margaret’s word “aghast” when they heard where she was going … here was a very young girl from a very small town leaving for the very large city of Chicago.

For her Jubilee in 2011, Francis Margaret recounted that story adding, “I traveled to Chicago on the Rock Island from Belleville. When I arrived I was shown to my room, unpacked and was then assigned to my classroom. I was a first-year, inexperienced teacher and would be responsible for 55 first graders. When I learned that I would have 55 I said, “Oh, yes, God, I wanted to teach but we forgot to talk about the number.”

She was blessed that two more experienced sisters, Sisters Franny Jo Hoover and Margaret Jilka,  sat down with her every Sunday afternoon to review plans and strategies. She stayed there three years and enjoyed the experience, but never did get used to big city smog and noise.

From 1953 to 1995, she taught first grade and primary grades in Chicago; Concordia, Manhattan, Junction City, Herndon, Oakley and Plainville, Kan.; and El Paso, Texas; and was responsible for starting Montessori kindergartens in Leawood and Salina, Kan.

Francis Margaret was a marvelous teacher. It is unbelievable how many certificates she earned in courses with titles such as “Motivating the Unmotivated” and “Teacher as Poet.” She had a passion for teaching and kept striving for the more, always wanting to better her skills so that she could reach even the hardest to reach child.

As the school superintendent said of her when recommending re-certification, “Through her life-long pursuit of professional growth, Sister Francis Margaret has kept herself aware of the dynamics of our ever-changing society and its impact on education.” She also noted that Sister had “exceptional strength in classroom management and engages the children in profitable learning experiences.”

Francis Margaret won a grant from McDonald’s for a hands-on math lab. She wanted children to be able to understand abstract math concepts and was innovative in creating ways to do that.

Her students, in turn, loved her. On her 25th Jubilee, her school set aside a special day to celebrate with her. A first grader wrote her a congratulations card. She printed it in block letters on the lined paper children used when learning to print. It read, “I hope you have a good 25th year day. Twenty-five years is a long time and I have missed quite a few of your anniversaries but I sure hope that this one is just wonderful.”  — signed Diane G.

Another time a first-grade student made her a certificate. It read: “This certificate is awarded to Sr. Francis Margaret for: the holiest teacher, the kindest teacher and the neatest hair.”

After 43 years she moved from teaching and became the religious education coordinator at Sacred Heart Parish in Plainville. She remained in that position for nine years before retiring from active ministry in June 2005.

Francis Margaret had a zest for life. During these years, she also spent one summer as a staff assistant at a L’Arche Home for special needs adults in Winnipeg, Canada, went to Brazil to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the mission there, and became certified in Facilitative Family Ministry. That was a ministry to mobilize and educate people on how to find needs of parishioners and be responsive to them.

When she came to the Motherhouse, she continuing to serve in a wide variety of ways: giving tours, leading the Rosary and Litany, distributing mail, preparing food trays for sisters, helping with recycling and handcrafting items for the Nazareth Gift Shop. Each year we give a tour to local fourth graders as part of a class project. Sister Francis Margaret was a tour guide par excellence with that age group. She delighted in doing that.

She had a heart for vocations and offered to be on the vocation committee and would give talks and accompany the vocation directors to Vocation Day Events. So, in her honor — I’m sure she would want me to do this — I’m going to put a plug in here for any single, Catholic women who are here to consider becoming a Sister of St. Joseph.

Francis Margaret had an awareness of what needed to be done. She did not need someone to point it out or tell her. For example, around the Motherhouse Sister Mary Leo was legally blind so she read the “Connections” to her, which is our internal newsletter. She did sewing for others, made gifts for our gift shop and even gave Sister Mary Esther an Ogilvy home perm every three months.

She could be found in prayer at various times of the day or night, in various locations in the house. She prayed the rosary, prayed in the office, meditated on Bible verses and more.

Francis Margaret also enjoyed life and made sure she had time for recreation. In addition to reading and working puzzles, she liked to play pinochle and pitch. Her pitch partners shared that they enjoyed her quick wit and they also knew she would never bid over five.

From young adulthood she began suffering from seizures. That was a cross she bore admirably. She said that it limited her freedom of activities but she adjusted well and compensated for it when she could.

Her life was filled with gratitude. In her file there are several notes that she sent to past councils and various committees graciously thanking them for their work. She wrote one to Sister Polly Kukula responding to a story about Sister Polly on our webpage which had a photo of Polly in the classroom.

Francis Margaret wrote: “Congratulations, Polly. I love your pose — a real teacher style! I wish that every junior high student in the diocese could experience two years with you in their religion courses. How fortunate they would be.”

 That was Francis Margaret. She wanted to spread joy and encouragement wherever she was. It was important to her to be able to laugh and to show appreciation.

Each year we write our mission statement for the upcoming year and ask the congregation to commission us. Her last mission statement 2017-2018 was written with the assistance of Sister Janet LeDuc. It expresses the desires of her heart. It reads:

“I asked the congregation to accept my commitment to live out my life at Mount Joseph Senior Village desiring to be where and how God wants me to be through my presence and graciousness of manner each day with a deep consciousness of God united with the sisters at Mount Joseph and those who share in my life.”

 I don’t know if Francis Margaret would think this is short. It is simple. And here’s the point:

Sister Francis Margaret had an unquenchable thirst for God. Like a true Sister of St. Joseph she was always yearning for “the more” and unreservedly gave herself in service to others. As we heard in the Scripture reading, “Yes,” said the Spirit, “let her find her rest from her labors for her works accompany her.” We have all been enriched by Francis Margaret’s life among us. For that, we give thanks to God.

Memorials for Sister Francis Margaret Otter 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 Francis Margaret’s memory, click on the button below:


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