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 www.facebook.com/csjkansas. The Mass and celebration also will be available to be viewed at www.csjkansas.org after the events.

 

 

 

Comments

One Response to “Nine Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia to celebrate jubilee”

  1. Cathy LaCount on July 1st, 2021 8:32 am

    So inspiring! Last time I was in Concordia I spoke with Sister Thibault about my aunts who she knew and it was so nice to know that they were remembered. I thought about becoming a nun when I was young because of the influence of my 3 aunts. I loved reading about each one and their stories. Such a life of love and service.

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