Jubilarians honored for 450 years of love and service

June 26, 2017 by

Family, friends and Sisters of St. Joseph packed the Nazareth Motherhouse’s chapel on June 11, as well as the dining hall at Mount Joseph Senior Village in Concordia on June 25, to celebrate “jubilees” for seven women of grace; sisters of St. Joseph who are celebrating the year of the anniversary of their entrance into the congregation as novices.

Together, the seven Jubilarians represented 450 years of love and service to God and the dear neighbor, fully demonstrating the theme of this year’s celebration, “All is Grace.”

The celebration began with a special Mass at 10:30 a.m. Jun 11, followed by an afternoon jubilee program at the Nazareth Motherhouse. A separate celebration followed on June 25 at Mount Joseph Senior Village, in Concordia, where Jubilarian Sister Margaret Rourke resides.

The Jubilarians honored with a special Mass and tribute program were:

Sister Vivian

      Sister Vivian Boucher, originally from Zurich, Kan., celebrated her 70th anniversary as a Sister of St. Joseph. She said that religious life has always been her first priority, with Catholic education her second. With a bachelor’s degree in math from Marymount College and a master’s in administration from College of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn., she has spent her entire career in education. Today, she continues to be a substitute teacher and volunteer at St. Columbkille Catholic School. Sister Rita Ann Mazanec presented her tribute, where she shared that one of Sister Vivian’s lesser-known talents was that she could fix anything electrical and that cars were her favorite toys.

Sister Christella

Sister Christella Buser, from Seneca, Kan., celebrated her 70th jubilee. She said her whole life “has just been pure gift.” After many years in music education at Tipton and Concordia, Kan., she served as president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia from 1965 to 1975. She was the Brazilian Mission Coordinator for the congregation before establishing the L’Arche Community in Overland Park, Kan. A published author, she continues to work in a variety of ministries based at the Motherhouse. Sister Norma Schlick presented her tribute, noting in particular her most famous literary work, “Flower from the Ark.”

Sister Gerrie

Sister Geraldine “Gerrie” Kokenge, of Seneca, Kan., also celebrated her 70th jubilee. Sister Gerrie said her main ministry in the community has been in the kitchens of many missions and places. One of her last missions as a cook was at the Salina Public High School, where she became good friends with many of those working with her. She is retired and living at the Nazareth Motherhouse. Sister Anna Marie Broxterman presented her tribute where she described one of Sister Gerrie’s talents as “being able to create aromatic and tasty works of art.”

Sister Margaret

Sister Margaret Rourke, originally from Brownell, Kan., celebrated her 70th jubilee at Mount Joseph Senior Village surrounded by many members of her large family. Her joyful, apostolic spirit was been evident throughout her life as a teacher, principal, a pastoral minister in a variety of parishes and as Mission Coordinator promoting the mission in Brazil. Her creative energy and zeal kept her on the road until she retired. Sister Chris Meyer presented her tribute at the Motherhouse celebration and Sister Marilyn Wall presented a reflection on her life at the Mount Joseph gathering. Sister Chris noted that she loved her work as Mission Coordinator and she loved to travel.

Sister Mary

Sister Mary Savoie, of Rudyard, Mich., celebrated her 70th jubilee. She said that, “I know myself most alive in fulfilling the mission and purpose of the congregation when I am involved in bringing people together for collaborative and participative praying, sharing, planning and implementing services for struggling individuals and families.” During the middle years of her life she connected with ministering among Sisters in Eastern Europe, following their 45 years of communist oppression. She served as president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia from 1983-87. Today, she ministers in Belleville, Kan., working with Republic County Health Department on the Chronic Disease Risk Reduction program and serving on the Republic County Ministerial Association and as hospice chaplain. Sister Margaret Nacke presented her tribute where she shared that, “Mary has a skill and passion for doing research that has does good for people.”

Sister Christine

Sister Christine Doman (Jan. 9, 1938 – March 17, 2017), of Grand Island, Neb., was celebrating her 60th jubilee year when she passed away in March. She ministered as an educator for many years, including as Principal of Sacred Heart High School, in Salina. She was President of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia from 1995-1999. She then returned to her calling as a teacher, before managing the Sisters’ hospitality house in El Paso, Texas from 2008-2013. She retired from active ministry in 2014. Sister Polly Kukula presented her tribute, noting that “She left before our party got started.” She likened her to a kaleidoscope with many varied gems.

Sister Janet

Sister Janet Lander was born in Santa Monica, Calif., and spent her childhood in Reseda, Calif. She is celebrating her 40th jubilee after being received into the congregation of Sisters of St. Louis before transferring her vows to Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia in 2006. With a bachelor and master’s degree in education and a master’s in pastoral ministry and post-master’s certificate in the practice of spirituality, she has spent many years as an educator and serving in campus ministry, as well as 5 years as a missionary in Brazil. She because a staff member of Manna House of Prayer in 2003, giving spiritual direction, guiding retreats, teaching candidates, serving as co-director of the Associate program and doing committee work and still serves there today as well as serving on the Congregational Leadership Council. Sister Marcia Allen presented her tribute, laughing as she wondered why anyone would want to come to Kansas from California. Her skills in Portuguese were noted as one of the many assets she has brought to the community.

Celebrants for the special Jubilee Mass were Father Kevin Cullen, S.J., of St. Louis, Mo., Father Xavier Nacke, OSB, of Conception Seminary, and Father James Hoover, the Motherhouse chaplain.

Sister Missy Ljungdahl emceed the June 11 Jubilee program, with music provided by Sisters Dian Hall and Teresa Hernandez.

In addition to the special Mass and tribute program, the day also included a celebration dinner for sisters, family and friends at the Nazareth Motherhouse. The meal was prepared and served by the Motherhouse dietary staff. The celebration at Mount Joseph featured decorated cakes and punch, as well as an open microphone session for family and friends to share their memories about Sister Margaret.

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