Sister Jean Ann Walton wins at annual Veterans Art Show

September 9, 2021 by  

Sister Jean Ann Walton’s quilt entry in the recent 3rd annual Veterans Art Show brought home a first place win.

The show, Aug. 19-30 at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas, is an annual competition for Veterans treated in the Department of Veterans Affairs national health care system.

“My quilt was entered in the Cut and Sewn Fabric category of the Visual Arts Division (VAD),” Sister Jean Ann said. “My first place win at the local level qualifies me for the national NVCAF against other 1st place winners in the spring of 2022.”

The quilt is named “A Study in Black and White with Turquoise Squares.”

Other categories in VAD are Combat Experience, Mixed Media, Acrylic Painting, Oil Painting, Watercolor Painting, Monochromatic Drawing, Color Drawing, B&W Photography, Color Photography, Special Recognition for Mental Health, Metalwork, Wood Model Kit, Applied Arts, Assemblage, Ceramics, Bead Work, Sculpture, and Mosaic.

The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival (NVCAF) is the celebration and grand finale stage show, art and writing exhibition, which are the culmination of talent competitions in art, creative writing, dance, drama and music for Veterans

VA medical facilities incorporate creative arts into their recreation therapy programs to further the rehabilitation milieu 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 was a Vietnam-era Marine and served six years on active duty and five years as a Marine Reservist. When on active duty, she served as a Marine Corps Drill Instructor for women and as an illustrator.


Obituary for Sister Philomene Reiland — April 11, 1941 – Aug. 2, 2021

August 3, 2021 by  

Sister Philomene Reiland died Aug. 2, 2021, at Cloud County Health Center in Concordia, Kansas. She was 80 years old and a religious sister for 62 years. She was born in Aurora, Illinois, on April 11, 1941, to Edward and Philomena Monaco Reiland, the second of three children, and was baptized Barbara. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia on Feb. 2, 1959. On Aug. 15, 1959, Barbara received the habit and was given the name Sister Philomene. She pronounced first vows on Aug. 15, 1960, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1963.

Sister Philomene received a bachelor of science degree in music education in 1968 from Marymount College, Salina, Kansas. In 1976 she received a master of arts degree in church music from St. Joseph College, Rensselaer, Indiana. Sister Philomene did post graduate work in organ performance at the Julliard School of Music, New York.

Sister Philomene taught in Salina, Kansas; Chicago, Illinois; and Grand Island, Nebraska. She was the parish director of music in Concordia, Kansas, and Sterling, Illinois; assistant profession of music at Sauk Valley Community College, Dixon, Illinois, and director of music in Libertyville, Illinois. She gave private piano lessons in Grayslake and Sterling, Illinois, while serving as director of music at St. Mary Parish in Sterling, Illinois.

Sister Philomene was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by two brothers, James of Montgomery, Illinois, and Thomas of Raleigh, North Carolina. A Bible Vigil Service will be held 7 p.m. Aug. 5 in the Nazareth Motherhouse Chapel with Sister Mary Jo Thummel as the eulogist. The Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 a.m.  Aug. 6 in the Motherhouse Chapel, Father Barry Brinkman presiding. Masks are required. The burial will be in the Nazareth Motherhouse Cemetery. Chaput Buoy Mortuary, 325 W. 6th St., Concordia, is in charge of arrangements. Memorials for Sister Philomene Reiland 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 Philomene Reiland’s memory, click on the button below:


July 2021 Messenger available online

July 27, 2021 by  

Be sure to check out this summer’s Messenger that is full of news about our Jubilarians, sisters being active in the community, immigration and a new book!

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.


Eulogy for Sister Ramona Medina — March 14, 1937 – July 16, 2021

July 20, 2021 by  

Sister Ramona Medina was born on March 14, 1937, in La Jara, Colorado, the 13th child of fourteen born to Celina Romero and Juan Medina. She passed away on July, 16, 2021, here at the Motherhouse. Ramona was preceded in death by her parents and these siblings: Adelmo, Marie, Sister Lucia, Joe, Sister Dora, Sister Aurea, Celina, Sister Joseph Mary and Gilbert. She is survived by: Sister Celinda who is in Atchison, Luis in Alamosa, Colorado, and Sister Rufina in Framingham, Massachusetts. Ramona was baptized Elvira Elidia and was called “Vera” by family and friends.

           In August of 1939, when Ramona was 18 months old, her mother Celina died in childbirth. With the oldest of the 13 children being Adelmo in his teens, the death of their Mother was a great loss. I quote Ramona; “Relatives and friends offered dad advice … ‘Give the two or three youngest children out for adoption, split them up to live with other families.’ Dad listened, but then called a family conference. Our grandparents and the older children had a say in making the decision. It was decided that the family would stay together.”  

Their plan was that when each of the daughters graduated from high school, she would remain at home and care for the younger children until the next girl graduated. Then she was free to pursue further education.

            Ramona has more to say about growing up in this family!

“Regarding my childhood days…I am so grateful for the opportunity to have lived on the farm/ranch … .enjoying and savoring God’s presence in nature and all of creation with my dear dad and with a loving, caring and fun family. Dad was strict, but gentle; he taught us by his example and deep faith, the importance of prayer in our daily lives, having a grateful heart, caring for one another and those we encountered daily,” especially the less fortunate. “There was always room for one more!”

            She continues, “Since we couldn’t afford to have store-bought toys, we learned to be creative and made our own toys and had fun coming up with our own games, making mud pies, making stilts, ice skating during the winter months and played baseball or whatever, with our many cousins …. I have such fond and treasured memories of my childhood days …. I truly believe mom has cared for each of us from heaven. I have always felt her presence as a child growing up and even now, as I am growing older.”

            Juan Medina instilled strong values in his children: faith was foremost, love and care for family as well, the importance of education and hard work, and welcoming the stranger. As Ramona’s siblings completed high school, they studied for their careers and became successful.

            Here is Ramona’s story about her life choices, “During my high school years, I tried not to think about being a sister because I felt that I was being expected to follow in my sisters’ footsteps (Six of her sisters had already entered different religious orders!). During my senior year my boyfriend and I were talking about marriage following graduation from college. However, during the senior prom as my boyfriend and I were dancing, I suddenly felt an emptiness deep within and I knew at that moment that NO human person could satisfy me. God was calling me to be a sister! I knew at that moment that my one and only true lover was GOD. I entered the Benedictine Order in Atchison, Kansas, in 1955. I treasure the 19 years I spent with the Benedictines. I grew spiritually and formed fond relationships during that time ….. I transferred to the Sisters of St. Joseph in Concordia, Kansas, in 1980 because I sensed I had an apostolic and not a monastic heart. My heart was at home and at peace with the Sisters of St. Joseph.”

She stated that her “one desire is to continue working daily towards total union with God, to serve God, the dear neighbor and to care for our earth with tireless love and dedication as a Sister of St. Joseph.”

            Her education: Sister Ramona attended Mt. St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas, earning a bachelor’s degree in education in 1970. In 1983 she received a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

            Her ministries are many: While with the Benedictines she served as an elementary teacher for 15 years. After transferring to the Sisters of St. Joseph, she served in occupational therapy from 1981 to 1999 in a number of hospitals and nursing homes in Kansas City, Lakeland, Florida, and in Kansas — Onega, Ellsworth and McPherson. In 1999 she was elected to the Leadership Council of the Sisters of St. Joseph, where she served as a Regional Coordinator until 2009. After serving in leadership, she joined Sisters Pat McLennon and Jean Befort as co-directors for creating a ministry called Neighbor to Neighbor for women and children here in Concordia. That ministry continues on today. In 2012 Sister Ramona moved to the Motherhouse.

            A bit more about Ramona’s professional life as an occupational therapist. In 1987 she was named Employee of the Year at Swope Ridge Health Care Center in Kansas City. In 1988 she applied for a copyright for her creation of seven dolls and two puppets for working with adults with physical limitations. In 1990 she received a certificate of appreciation for her work with students at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

I quote: “You have been an excellent role model for our students. You are the epitome of the words ‘caring’ and ‘giving.’ Your creativity and resourcefulness help our students understand the unlimited potential for occupational therapists to serve.”

When Ramona was in Ellsworth she began an occupational therapy program in 1993 for the residents of Good Samaritan Village, helping them “progress to the point where they can return home or at least become more independent.” In 1995 she established an occupational therapy department at Memorial Hospital in McPherson. She is quoted as saying, “What I like most about my job is that one can be extremely creative. It is very challenging. I guess the rewarding part is that you really give patients a new lease on life.  Make them productive and functional as possible. We help improve the quality of their life.”

            Sister Ramona was also an artist. Her paintings are of detail and of beauty, even as her eyesight began to fail her. She was an excellent instructor of painting and taught women at Neighbor to Neighbor to paint.

            She also excelled in lace-making! This was an original craft of our first Sisters in the 17th century in France and now blossoming again here in our congregation. Sister Ramona created many intricate and beautiful works of lace and was also an instructor of lace-making.  She was invited to create a lace tabernacle cover for a parish near Kansas City. Eventually, that same pattern was used to adorn the outside of the church structure.

            Ramona used her crafting skills in endless ways here at the Motherhouse! She created many centerpieces and projects upon request. And always, many of us signed up quickly to work with her.

            So much about Ramona cannot be captured in words. She lived with such energy, creativity and with presence to each person. Her joyful spirit was evident, even when she wasn’t feeling well. She lived with a positive attitude. She truly reflected the Jesuit saying, to live with “glad and practical cooperation” with God’s grace.

            Sister Ramona’s health began to fail her in the fall of 2019 and she was diagnosed with melanoma cancer in November. She lived this part of her journey with the same courage and energy, never withdrawing or losing hope. At the end of May, she wrote this message to all of us: “Spare me perfection. Give me instead the wholeness that comes from embracing the full reality of who I am, just as I am.” (David Brenner)

Her words: “…embracing the full reality of who I am” has led me to choose Hospice. Yesterday I made that decision and immediately knew an incredible peace in my spirit. I am grateful to God for that grace and grateful to each of you for the support I have known on this journey with melanoma …With gratitude beyond measure, Ramona.”

            These are her closing words in her life story in which she uses Jesus’ words from John’s gospel. “Loving and gracious God, ‘I have glorified you and finished the work you have given me to do.’ (John 14:4) Please welcome me to my/our ETERNAL HOME where I/we will rejoice and see you face to face.”    

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




Obituary for Sister Ramona Medina — March 14, 1937 – July 16, 2021

July 16, 2021 by  

Sister Ramona Medina died July 16, 2021, at Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia, Kansas. She was 84 years old and a religious sister for 66 years. She was born in La Jara, Colorado, on March 14, 1937, to Juan and Celina Romero Medina, the thirteenth of fourteen children, and was baptized Elvira Elidia. She entered the Atchison Benedictine Order in 1955, then transferred to the Sisters of St. Joseph, Concordia, Kansas, on Dec. 21, 1980. On Dec. 11, 1955, Elvira received the habit and was given the name Sister Ramona. She kept this name when she transferred to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas. She pronounced first vows on Dec. 16, 1956 and final vows on Jan. 1, 1959.

Sister Ramona received a B.S. in education in 1970 from Mt. St. Scholastica College, Atchison, Kansas. In 1983 she received a B.S. in occupational therapy from the University of Kansas. Sister Ramona worked as an occupational therapist in Shawnee Mission, Kansas City, Onaga, Ellsworth and McPherson, Kansas, and in Lakeland, Florida. She was elected to the Leadership Council of the Congregation in 1999 and served for eight years as a regional coordinator. In 2009 she co-founded the Neighbor to Neighbor ministry in Concordia, Kansas.

Sister Ramona was preceded in death by her parents, four brothers and six sisters. She is survived by two sisters, Sister Celinda Medina of Atchison and Sister Rebecca Medina of Framingham, Massachusetts; and one brother, Luis of Monte Vista, Colorado.

A Bible Vigil Service will be held 7 p.m. July 20 in the Nazareth Motherhouse Chapel with Sister Judy Stephens as the eulogist. The Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 a.m. July 21 in the Motherhouse Chapel, Father Barry Brinkman presiding. If you have not been fully vaccinated we ask that you wear a mask and social distance out of consideration for those who are immunocompromised.

The burial will be in the Nazareth Motherhouse Cemetery. Chaput Buoy Mortuary, 325 W. 6th St., Concordia, is in charge of arrangements.

Memorials for Sister Ramona Medina 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 Ramona Medina’s memory, click on the button below:


Eulogy for Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller — June 5, 1946 – June 26, 2021

July 1, 2021 by  

Vigil: July 1, 2021, at the Nazareth Motherhouse
Eulogist: Sister Vera Meis

My deepest sympathy to you who are mourning the death of Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller, our community, Barbara’s family, her sisters Anna and Linda and their children, cousins, her aunts, brother priests, bishops, former members of our community and the youth of the diocese.

Barb’s birth was unique. She 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.

Sister Barbara Ellen was known to most of us as “Sister Barb”— a woman of Great Love who touched the hearts of many people. She had a special gift of being able to relate to the youth of our Diocese. I believed Barb learned about loving and creating community from her mother, Barbara. Barb’s mother created a community with the children in the neighborhood by teaching them German songs and plays. She wanted them to know their heritage.

Barb had a special love for the youth of the Salina Diocese and desired to teach them the richness of their Catholic Faith. She loved them and they love her.

Barb was all about relationships, the importance of them which brought her to being nominated for the Extension’s Lumen Christi Award among many other forms of recognition.

The youth showed their love by attending retreats, going to National Catholic Youth Convention, helping with Prayer and Action and many religious programs. She had over 1,000 youth attend National Catholic Youth Conference. Other Diocese called Sister Barb with offers of a position in their Diocese. No one could miss the smile on Sister Barb’s face as she listened to the Young Church as they professed their faith in talks and actions.

Our Sister Barb had a deep and lasting love for the Church and her God and His people. She kept in touch with all the women who were in her group when she entered the convent. They formed a lasting bond with each other and continued to meet for years.

Our Sister Barbara Ellen had many challenges: she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and had to take treatments for cancer. She also needed both knees replaced. Barb was like the “Energizer Bunny” constantly moving so she could get back to her ministry in a short time. She had many good friends. She related well with the Clergy beginning with getting to know them and supporting them in their ministry. They became friends. Sister Barb would stand up to them if she didn’t agree with them but always did that with respect. She respected them and they respected her.

Sister Barbara spoke of her prayer life. How she would give the first hour of the day to God in private prayer then would attend Mass.

In Barb’s name I wish to say to you what she would want me to say. “I love you.” She believed we should tell people we love how we feel. So if they are the last words we can say to them you and they will feel blessed.

So in her name I say to you:   “I LOVE YOU”

To make an online donation in Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller’s memory, click on the button below:


2021 Theological Institute

June 28, 2021 by  

Ecology and Theology: A Profound Invitation to Choose New Life

July 15-18-2021

This year’s Theological Institute will be held virtually via Zoom

The Theological Institute is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas. It is an adult learning experience aimed at deepening our roots in the Christian tradition and exploring its implications for living the Gospel in the contemporary world.

Contemporary understandings of ecology affirm a relational vision of life. All is connected! A living sense of faith also draws us into the reality and deep mystery of interrelationship.

This institute will explore the dynamic interface between ecology and religious consciousness. It will do so within the unprecedented context of our times, perhaps best described through a lens that points to intrinsic connections between environmental degradation, the devastation of Covid-19, poverty, racism, prejudice, unjust economic and political structures, alienation, isolation and a rise of nationalism.

Limited number of partial scholarships available for lay participants on first-come, first-serve basis. Inquire at Manna House of Prayer, 785-243-4428.

Register online at

We are living in hard times in which such connections have a negative, disruptive and suffering impact on individual lives, communities and the world. Hidden in the challenges and struggle of these times, though, is a profound invitation to choose new life inspired by relations expressed in ecology and faith. These relationships promise transformative, hope-filled gifts for our time and for the future.


Mary Rowell, CSJ, is a Sister of St. Joseph in Canada. Sister Mary teaches moral theology and Catholic social teaching at the University of Toronto. Based at Villa St. Joseph Ecology and Spirituality Centre in Cobourg, Ontario, Mary is also a spiritual and retreat director. She leads retreats and workshops, lectures extensively and provides facilitation services across Canada and the United States.

Currently, Sister Mary is the Vocation and Formation Director for the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada and President of the National Association of Vocation and Formation Directors (Canada).

Formerly a nurse and nurse educator, Sister Mary has worked in health care and education in the U.K., Canada, and numerous countries in Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Eastern Europe, where she specialized in opthalmological care and blindness prevention programs. She also has worked in the field of clinical bioethics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London, Ontario.

Formerly director of graduate programs in bioethics at the University of Toronto, Sister Mary is also a researcher for the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute and works in consultative roles for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Schedule of events (held virtually on Zoom)

JULY 15: Opening Session: 6:30 – 8 p.m.

JULY 15: Morning Session: 9:15-11:30 a.m. Afternoon Session: 2 – 4 p.m.

JULY 17: Morning Session: 9:15-11:30 a.m. Afternoon Session: 2-4 p.m.

JULY 18: Concluding Session 9 – 10:30 a.m.

Institute fees

Pre-registration required by July 1, 2021.

$50 non-refundable pre-registration fee required, applicable to total cost.

Limited number of partial scholarships available for lay participants on first-come, first-serve basis. Inquire at Manna House of Prayer, 785-243-4428.

Register online at

2021 Jubilee video

June 13, 2021 by  

Click on the link to watch the slide show that was shown at the June 2021 Jubilee Program honoring nine sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

Video of Jubilee Mass, June 13, 2021

June 13, 2021 by  

Click to watch the Jubilee Mass of June 13, 2021 celebrating nine Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas.

Nine Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia to celebrate jubilee

June 9, 2021 by  

Every year the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia honor the sisters who are celebrating their jubilee — the special anniversary of the date they were received as novices into the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

In 2021, nine sisters, who together represent 585 years of love of God and service to the dear neighbor, will be honored: Sisters Julie Galan, Cecilia Green, Rosalyn Juenemann, Anne Martin Reinert, Jodi Creten, Judy Stephens, Carm Thibault, Janis Wagner and Marilyn Wall.

This year the jubilee celebration will be June 13, 2021, at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, no guests will be invited, however the celebratory Mass and Jubilee Program will be shown as a Facebook Live event on the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia’s Facebook page and then offered on their website.

The Jubilee Committee selected the theme, “Seasons of Love” for this special event.

The committee chose this theme based on the Gospel readings for Jubilee Sunday. The Scripture readings speak of planting seeds. There is also a Broadway musical with a hit song of the same name. The lyrics question how to measure the value of a year in human life, concluding that the most effective means is to “measure in love.”

What better tribute to those sisters who personify love!

As these special women prepared to begin their Jubilee year, we asked each one to write a short reflection that would be an answer to this question:

“As you look back on your years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia, what experience or event best captures what your religious life has meant to you and why?”

Sister Julie Galan — 75 years

Sister Julie Galan will mark her 75th jubilee this year. She also is marking her 51st year at Cure of Ars Parish in Leawood, Kan.

“I always prayed to be a sister. Entering at an early age presented a couple of challenges. My family supported me to become a teacher but not a sister,” Sister Julie said. “But, persistent as I am, I begged them and they did say ‘we will support you, but we know you will be lonesome and return home.’”

Their prediction was incorrect, as she continues her long career as a sister.

“For me, Religious Life means that I have been blessed abundantly in every way. God has given me more than I have hoped for,” she said. “I’m blessed with good health and happiness which enables me to be a supportive member of my Community — the Sisters of St. Joseph. At this moment and time for me, Religious Life has been a family.

“God has been good to me in my ministries. In 1969, I was assigned to Cure of Ars Parish School. I am celebrating my 51st year at Cure of Ars Parish. I have been a teacher, Elementary Religious Education Director and presently work part-time in parish ministry. I’m excited to be part of a vibrant parish and thankful to serve God’s people in so many ways,” she said.

“Each of us in our vocation, single or married, priesthood or Religious Life, reflects a particular Gospel call,” Sister Julie said. “Prayer and community are my focus as I continue to celebrate God’s grace of persevering as a Sister of St. Joseph for 75 years.”

Sister Julie is a graduate of Marymount College, Salina, Kan., with a bachelor’s of English, and of Webster University, St. Louis, Mo., with a master’s in education.

In addition to her ministry in the Cure of Ars Parish, she taught in Junction City, Plainville, Manhattan and Beloit.


Sister Cecilia Green — 70 years

Sister Cecilia Green is celebrating 70 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia this year. She currently resides at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia where she continues to stay busy caring for plants and flowers, sewing masks for Covid-19, and creating bobbin lace and sewing items for whatever need arises.

Prior to returning to the Motherhouse, she earned a bachelor of arts at Marymount College in Salina, Kan. She then taught at schools in Clyde, Beloit, Tipton, Damar, Park, Junction City and Manhattan. She also worked in parish ministry in Leoville, New Almelo, Logan, Densmore and Oberlin, before taking on ministry at the Motherhouse from 1977 to 2016.

“A few years ago when I was still able to walk, I knew it was time to move to Stafford Hall (in the Nazareth Motherhouse) to live the golden years of my life. This move gave me time to get ready for the days when walking would become more difficult,” she said. “What a blessing for a place to live comfortably.”

“Thank God for walkers and scooters to get around with. Using them helps me to be independent and allows me to keep busy,” she said. “I still enjoy reading, sewing, saying the rosary, taking a nap, going outside for fresh air and to enjoy nature, and then sometime just sitting and doing nothing.

“Our golden years become golden by the way we make use of our day. My past years have helped me to get to these years — finding the good in others, friendships, helping others in need, living each day peacefully and joyfully,” Sister Cecilia said. “Being an everyday cheerful presence wherever I am is my mission today. Thank God for community, friends, family and neighbors who have been such a part of my 70 years as a Sister of Saint Joseph.”


Rosalyn Juenemann — 70 years

Since Sister Rosalyn is no longer able to speak for herself, I will try to speak on her behalf as the youngest sibling in our family of ten — Sister Carolyn Juenemann

“On her last jubilee she wrote that the rose symbolized best what religious life meant to her. Over the years, after her entrance into the congregation, she grew from a well-hidden bud into a fully blossomed flower that she could never have imagined! She spoke of the great challenges faced after Vatican II occurred as she had to come to some peace with what really made her a consecrated woman, a Sister of St. Joseph.

“After she deeply pondered that question, she came to the conclusion that the answer had to come from within, in a spirit of love. The growing bud was ready to start opening into full bloom with complete trust in God’s plan for her.

“From that point on, she was guided into that spirit of loving service as she began moving out of the structured school system, into parish ministry and the ministry of simply being present in love to God’s people. She also dealt with the challenges of administration, leadership, and disappointments through fidelity to prayer and trust in the One who had called her to the religious life.

“Her time in parish ministry seemed to be the ‘highlight’ of her process of nurturing the hidden bud into a beautiful blooming rose. Parish ministry offered her the opportunity to use her talents of music, counseling and teaching in an integrated way, and she loved (and was greatly loved) wherever she served. People used to tell me that she ‘sang like a bird!’ God blessed her with a very beautiful singing voice — clear, soothing and perfect pitch — until her more recent years of declining health.

“Now in her declining years, Sister Rosalyn is still the open, blooming rose (even though the petals are slowly fading). The inner beauty of love is still evident in her smiles, hugs, sense of humor, deep gratitude for the care she receives, her prayer life and her body still moving to the exact rhythm of music even when she can’t sing like she used to. It seems that she learned through the hard times and the good times the meaning of our call to ‘Contemplatives in Action’ and is reaping the harvest of that grace during her years of decline as she prepares to join the Eternal Banquet with her dearly beloved family, community members and the many people she touched through her life of loving service.”

Sister Rosalyn graduated from Marymount College, Salina, Kan., with a bachelors of music education, and Emporia State Teacher’s College with a master’s I in Counseling.

She taught music and grade school in St. Louis, Ill., Antonio, Pfeifer, Salina, Gorham, Plainville and Oakley. Her pastoral and parish ministry took her to Glenwood Springs, Colo., Greenleaf, Clay Center, Junction City, Chapman and Colby. She also served as Coordinator of Sister Services at the Nazareth Motherhouse and on the congregation’s Executive Council. Now in retirement, she resides at the Motherhouse.


Sister Anne Martin Reinert   —70 years

Sister Anne Martin Reinert is celebrating 70 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia. After a long career in nursing, she currently resides at the Nazareth Motherhouse.

“I am constantly molded and remolded in my efforts to grow as a woman in a religious community that strives to love God and neighbor. Maxim 27 seems to mirror my writing: ‘Seek out the interior and hidden life of Jesus in so far as the activities of zeal will allow,’” she said.

“I was encouraged early in life to go into nursing. After entering the Sisters of St. Joseph, I did general floor nursing in a small hospital, so I had my Community of Sisters of St. Joseph living in or near the hospital,” Sister Anne Martin said. “I had much to learn and my education came from the newborn who could not wait, but was thrust forth from the womb into my arms; the toddler who could bring me to tears over a dose of medicine; and the elderly man who could drive me to frustration one moment and to a celebration of joy the next.”

“Then there was a change of mission and I left the beautiful green Flint Hills of Manhattan, Kan., for a long train ride to the desert of El Paso, Texas. Then another move, back to Concordia and to general floor nursing.

“My heart strings stretched with the introduction of a chemical dependency unit. Each success was celebrated with the pride of motherhood, as we shared spiritual growth through Bill W. and AA and Alanon support,” she said. “Again, I celebrated the cherished moments that those we served had to offer. There is wisdom in suffering souls.”

“Now I am living in Stafford Hall at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia and am the one being cared for by our sisters and nursing staff. My heart is grateful as I reflect on the many ways God has led me,” she said.

Sister Anne Martin received her Nursing Certification and a certification from the Kansas Alcoholism Counselors Association. In addition to her career in nursing in Manhattan, El Paso and Concordia, she worked as a nurse in Junction City at St. Clare House for Women and Children, as a nurse at the Motherhouse and as Community Life Coordinator at Mr. Joseph Senior Village in Concordia.


Sister Judy Stephens — 60 years

Sister Judy Stephens is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia.

“Celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph fills my heart with gratitude! Gratitude for so much — for my family of origin, my Sisters in Community, the many people I have met in ministry, and for this beautiful planet,” Sister Judy said.

“In particular I am grateful for the experience of living at Manna House of Prayer (in Concordia) when Sanctuary was declared in 1983. Refugees came, fleeing civil war in their countries in Central America. It became clear to me that God’s law surpasses human law; that in a nonviolent manner we can stand together against unjust human laws. And it can make a difference!”

Sister Judy is a graduate of Marymount College, Salina, Kan., with a bachelor of arts in theology and a master’s in religious studies from the University of Detroit. She is currently the Justice and Peace Co-coordinator for the Community along with Sister Chris Meyer, and does Hispanic ministry in Concordia.

She has previously taught in Chicago and Silver City, N.M.; done a multi-parish religious education program with Sister Virginia Pearl in Clyde, Clifton, Clara, Washington and Morrowville, Kan.; was Initial Formation Program and Admissions Counselor at Marymount College; did youth ministry at Bayard, Central and Hurley, N.M.; did pastoral ministry in Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico; worked at Manna House of Prayer in the Sanctuary Program; worked on ecological issues and organic food growth near Tescott, Kan.; worked with Catholic Charities, Hispanic ministry and medical interpretation; and served on the Leadership Council for the Sisters of St. Joseph.

“My gratitude runs deep for the spiritual and theological education I have received throughout these years as a Sister,” Sister Judy said. “We have gathered many times to look at the urgent questions of our day: life issues for the unborn and the living children, a global pandemic, climate change and plastic pollution, racism, refugees, children in detention. It’s hard work; it’s tiring; but we cannot turn away. It is God’s call to us today. And together—working with women religious across the U.S., we can make a difference.”

“This calls me to sit in prayer each day, to search for the presence of God. To know that presence when I see the sky, the stars, the flowers, the face of a child. It calls me to face the critical issues of today, to gather with others to pray, study and discern — to decide what we can do. Sometimes our efforts are successful; sometimes we only know that we have done what we could,” she said. “This makes living worthwhile and gives me peace. To know that God is with us as a human race, that grace and faith give us courage and to humbly see what we can do. I am grateful.”


Jodi Creten — 60 years

Sister Jodi Creten, CSJ, will mark her 60th jubilee this year. For 30 of those years she served in Atlanta, Ga.

“Throughout my 60 years in our congregation, I’ve ministered in many places that have helped to form who I am today, but nowhere did it become more evident than in the 30 years I was privileged to serve in my beloved Georgia, where I was called into the community of cultural diversity,” Sister Jodi said.

“I served in St. John the Evangelist Parish, in Hapeville, Ga., where inclusivity and the meshing of so many cultures stretched and furthered my understanding of community,” she said. “I was privileged to live for so many years in a neighborhood of diverse backgrounds, personalities and cultures where ‘give and receive’ without cost were so common. “

Sister Jodi served as an activity director at Catholic Personal Homes, Inc., and later at HomeInstead Senior Care.

“I met many seniors in need of a sense of belonging, and together we worked to form what we are all called to be,” Sister Jodi said. “I believe that there isn’t just one incident, story or experience that best captures what religious life means to me, but there is one word that does that — and it is ‘community.’”

For the past two years Sister Jodi has been serving at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia, which is home to many retired sisters.

“At our Motherhouse community it is essential with its ‘give and receive.’ And where, here too, I am again called to serve the ‘Dear Neighbor,’” she said.

Sister Jodi is a graduate of Marymount College, Salina, Kan., with a bachelor of arts in English and drama, and has a certificate in gerontology from St. Mary of the Wood’s, Terra Haute, Ind.

In addition to her years of service in Atlanta, she taught at Silver City, N.M., Chicago, Ill., and Boonville, Mo. She also spent seven years coordinating senior services as well as renovations at the Motherhouse in Concordia.


Carmella Thibault — 60 years

Sister Carmella Thibault is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia.

“This jubilee year I am so grateful for the mystery of life itself; for my family and this CSJ Community; and for this planet Earth with all its beauty and mystery,” she said.

Sister Carm is a graduate of Marymount College, Salina, Kan., with a bachelor of arts in economics and business; a certificate in initial religious formation from St. Louis University; and a certificate CPE, from the Mental Health Institute, Independence, Iowa. She has served in a variety of ministries during her time as a sister.

Sister Carm has been the Assistant Registrar at Marymount College and taught elementary education at Cure of Ars School, Leawood, Kan., and St. Michaels in Fairbury, Neb. She then became Director of Novices at Manna House of Prayer in Concordia where she also was a staff member. She served on the Community’s Executive Council, as well as a pastoral minister for Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina, Kan. Currently, she works in Sister Services at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia. All these experiences have left her with many memories, but one stood out.

“One memory I can share: In the early 1980s, while at Manna House of Prayer in Concordia, I became aware that some of our sisters were writing to persons on death row. So I began writing to a man on death row in West Virginia,” she said.

“For 12 years or so, we wrote monthly and in this way got acquainted. Lem’s letters were simple and often held much the same news. From a poor family, he had run away from home trying to make it on his own. He and another man were convicted of a crime and ended up on death row.

“Lem’s letters spoke of the isolation and pain of prison. No family visitors or friends. During those years he began to attend church services and was baptized into the Catholic faith. This gave him new strength,” Sister Carm said.  

“As years went by his letters spoke about how hard it was when one of the prisoners was given a date for execution and was executed. When would ‘his day’ come?”

“His day came. It would be in a few weeks — November 1995,” she said. “The night before his execution, he called me. I was surprised as there was no sadness in his voice. I asked him if he was afraid. ‘No,’ he said, ‘After all, I am going to fall into the arms of the Almighty!’”  


Janis Wagner — 60 years

Sister Janis Wagner is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia. And all of those 60 years have been filled with music and God.

“Experiencing the Consecrated Life is God’s gift to me. It is supported by my prayer life, Community members, family, friends and parishioners,” she said. “Music is the thread that helps me unite people in the Liturgy. I play the organ and piano for many Community celebrations and funerals — a true joy.”

Sister Janis earned a bachelor’s in music education from Marymount College and master’s in liturgy and religious studies from Mundelein College, Chicago. She also pursued additional studies at Indiana and Notre Dame Universities.

She has served as a music teacher in St. George, Ill., and Park, Kan.; Area Religion Coordinator for northwestern and western Kansas parishes; in the Religious Education Office, Salina Diocese; as Religious Education Coordinator and music teacher in Manhattan, Kan.; in team ministry in Selden, Leoville, Oberlin, New Almelo, Logan and Densmore, Kan.; in the Office of Worship, Salina Diocese; and as pastoral associate and music ministry in Manhattan, Ogden and Clay Center. She currently serves as the Nazareth Motherhouse liturgy coordinator.

“Involvement in parish music — playing and teaching others to be parish musicians — encompassed my life these past 60 years. I never tired of it,” she said.

“The companionship of the sisters I entered with — Carmella, Judy, Jodi and Marilyn — formed a lasting bond. I’m grateful to the Sisters of St. Joseph for the many opportunities I’ve been given,” Sister Janis said. “Even though we’ve moved from 600 sisters in 1961, when I entered, to the present 100 sisters, I have hope. I believe women are still called to the Consecrated Life and are needed in the Church and society.”

“In our music, God is glorified.”

Marilyn Wall — 60 years

Sister Marilyn Wall celebrates 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph this year. She is currently a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph Leadership Council.

“My life has been gifted in so many ways,” she said. “The thread that runs through all of my life and my ministries is my search for God, whom I have found many times over in the faces and stories of those whom I have met. That thread becomes a ribbon during the 20 plus years that I served in rural parishes. That ministry, for me, was presence for whatever might be needed.”

Sister Marilyn said she loves rural Kansas life.

“I loved mingling with people in all of the areas in which I served. I heard hundreds of stories: some sad, some astonishingly resilient and some mystical. I learned the meanings of compassion and love many times over,” she said.

“One of the questions I often asked upon hearing particularly difficult stories was: ‘How did you get through that,’ or ‘What did you tell yourself?’ Ironically, the answer to that question revealed a faith stance; a facet/a relationship with God that was revealed by and through a situation that was extremely difficult,” she said. “I was and still am awed at the beauty of the people I loved and who loved me. I thank those people who revealed God to me. My life has been full.”

Sister Marilyn graduated with a bachelor’s of science from Marymount College, a master’s of science from Kansas State University and a MSW from St. Louis University. She’s served as a teacher in Fairbury, Neb., Manhattan and Salina, Kan., and as a biology instructor at Marymount College. She served as a social worker at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Concordia, and as a spiritual director and associate retreats director at Manna House of Prayer. She spent many years in parish ministry serving in ministry in Salina and Office of Laity for the Salina Diocese; pastoral administrator in Oberlin; pastoral associate in Selden, Leoville, Hanover, Greenleaf , Wilson, Dorrance, Holyrood, Washington, and Morrowville; and parish life coordinator in Washington and Morrowville.

“Early on in parish ministry the couple who had the local mortuary asked my to consider doing funerals for those who did not have a Church. That was a gift to me and I continued doing funerals all of my years in parishes,” Sister Marilyn said. “In later years I was asked to be a Hospice Chaplain. That fit right in with my ministry and was a wonderful invitation to me and led me into many more families.”

“I grew up in Aurora. Ill., which I thought was a small town because it was overshadowed by Chicago. I now know what a small town is!,” she said. “I have also fallen in love with the people and the terrain of rural Kansas and I consider myself now, a rural Kansan.”

“That thread has now become a life-line which has brought me full circle back to the Motherhouse and back to leadership,” she said. “In all of my ministries, and in Community and family I have found God, love and peace, and I am immensely grateful.”

The Facebook Live celebratory Mass will begin at 11 a.m. CST with the Jubilee Celebration to follow after lunch. To view online, visit The Mass and celebration also will be available to be viewed at after the events.




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