Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Concordia Sisters of St. Joseph

Concordia Sisters of St. Joseph

Loving God and neighbor without distinction: A pontifical institute of women religious of the Roman Catholic Church

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Feeding Hungry Bodies and Spirits

Manna House of Prayer in Concordia is a cornerstone of this community. The building has a rich history beginning in 1884 and has served many purposes:
A Motherhouse and boarding school until 1903; Concordia’s first hospital; St. Joseph’s through 1951; and a nursing home, St. Ann’s Home for the Aged through 1977. In 1978, Manna House opened as a retreat center, which is still operating as such. It’s evident that the Sisters of St. Joseph have been service-oriented to the Concordia and surrounding communities from these very beginnings. Three of the Manna House resident Sisters share a very brief description of a few of the services offered.
Retreats and Workshops
Several Sisters reside at Manna House on East 5th St. and are gracious enough to share their space with many people as their needs require. Sisters Marcia Allen and Gilla Dubé lead many in life enrichment through workshops and retreats, ranging from sabbaticals and spiritual companionship to offering special community meals. Sister Marcia explains, “Manna was bread provided by God in the desert. We ask ourselves here at Manna House, ‘Are we feeding hungry spirits and bodies? Are we nourishing people the way that they need to be nourished?’” Other staff members are Sisters Betty Suther, Mary Jo Thummel, Jean Ann Walton, Kathy Schaeffer and Janet Lander. A conservative estimate of the number of people these programs serve each year tops 1000 easily.
A current offering is a 20-minute motivational video encouraging people to ask, “How do I make this world a better place?” The Sisters extend an invitation to any individual or group that is interested to contact them. This offering costs nothing for the recipients but can have an invaluable result. “This video by Dewitt Jones is a variation of the ‘Pay it forward’ message,” Sr. Gilla explained. “The video is called Celebrate! Change Your Lens, Change Your Life, and carries positivity in a world that shows so much negativity right now.” The Sisters hope to share this resource with as many people as possible and feel that it can benefit students, teachers, administrators, employers, employees, or anyone feeling discouraged by negativity in their lives. Anyone who will take the time to watch can explore how to change their vision. There’s even a weekend workshop that will delve deeper into the video series offered, and has the option of staying at the Manna House with room and meals for the duration.

Manna House residents and CSJ Sisters Marcia Allen, Christina Brodie, and Gilla Dubé are among those who offer support to those with a variety of needs.

Hands Across Our Community
Sister Christina Brodie is the coordinator of the Hands Across Our Community program, which has been in operation for the past twelve years. The focus of this outreach is to fight generational poverty. The ministry will educate and instill basic life skills to build a better foundation for those who may not have had an example while growing up. Recipients of this service can learn about a basic budget, how to shop, meal planning, or how to manage needed medical services. Sister Christina is passionate about this ministry but often states, “Manna House is one of Concordia’s best-kept secrets!” She wants to get the word out to a broader population that Manna House has a service for everyone. Sr. Christina describes the mission in a very clear manner. “Our presence is the most important part of what we do as Sisters of St. Joseph,” she says.
Helping Hands Ministry
Many in our community need to be made aware of the Helping Hands Ministry, another service offered through Manna House in coordination with the Cloud County Resource Center and the Salvation Army for those individuals and families who are in distress. In addition to a small food bank, they provide help with utility and pharmacy bills, transportation, baby diapers and formula, and other needs as they arise. Helping Hands is entirely dependent on private donations. They do not receive any state or federal money and welcome contributions of non-expired food, diapers, baby formula, or monetary donations. Sister Gilla explained, “We try to treat each person we serve with the greatest respect and dignity. We serve them without judgment,” she said.
If you need assistance, are interested in viewing the video offering, would like more information about any programs offered by Manna House, or would like to make a contribution to Helping Hands, call 785-243-4428.
If you are in a financial position where you can contribute, the Sisters would be so grateful for your help in continuing this important ministry.