High school girls can ‘Be-YOU-t-full’ at new camp

June 27, 2012

Each year at the end of Discover Camp, the oldest girls know it’s the end of their summer adventure with the Sisters of St. Joseph. Some of them have been in Concordia as Discover Campers for three years — when they were entering sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

Then they “graduate” — and there has been nothing like Discover Camp for older teens.

That will change June 13 when Camp Be-YOU-t-full begins, designed specifically for Catholic girls entering ninth through 12th grades.

“Parents and teachers and the girls themselves have asked for something after Discover Camp,” explained Sister Beverly Carlin, the vocation director for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. “So we sat down with some college-age women to get their ideas, and they all said this is such an important time, when girls are trying to figure out who they are.”

As a result of those conversations, Sister Bev and a team of college-age “camp counselors” put together the three-day Camp Be-YOU-t-full.

It will begin Thursday afternoon, June 13, and continue through Saturday evening, June 15, with the campers staying at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia. The cost is $75 and there are a limited number of $25 scholarships available. Registrations are available online; CLICK HERE for the form to print out and complete. Or, for more information, contact Sister Beverly at 785/220-7996 or srbevc@csjkansas.org

The registration deadline is May 31.

With the camp name playing on the word “beautiful,” the focus, Sister Beverly said, will be “discovering the beauty God created in us.”

Young women today struggle to “become fully who we are, and not just be like everybody else,” she added.  Issues of today’s culture, peer pressure and Catholic faith and values will all be camp topics.

But like Discover Camp, Camp Be-YOU-t-full will also feature games, crafts, swimming and a change to meet other girls from across Kansas and beyond. The camp will conclude with Mass at 6:30 p.m. Friday, followed by an ice cream social hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph. Campers’ parents are invited to join the girls for the Mass and social.

In addition to Sister Beverly and a number of college women, camp staff will include sisters and other volunteers. The team hopes to have about 20 campers taking part.





Concordia missionary to carry Little Dresses to Africa

June 19, 2012

During a visit this week to Neighbor to Neighbor, Chelsey Horkman chats about her upcoming mission to Africa.

The Little Dresses for Africa will soon be headed to Africa, packed in the luggage of a Concordia woman who will serve as a missionary in Burkina Faso for the next three years.

Chelsey Horkman learned about the 100 dresses made by women at Neighbor to Neighbor through a fellow member of The Wesleyan Church in Concordia. In fact, it was that church member, Sandi Hubert, who took the idea for the project to the women’s center in downtown Concordia to begin with.

Sandi Hubert shows off a "Little Dress" made from sunflower fabric as women gathered at Neighbor to Neighbor this week to meet Chelsey Horkman.

When Hubert first learned about the Little Dresses for Africa project from a sewing program on television, she talked with Sister Jean Befort at Neighbor to Neighbor about it. Sister Jean in turn talked with Sister Ramona Medina, another of the three Sisters of St. Joseph who run the center, and before long there was something of a mini manufacturing line of sewing machines set up.

More than a dozen women embraced the project and by early May they were halfway to their goal of 100 little dresses. As word about the project got out, donations of fabrics, thread and other sewing notions flowed in.

Then Hubert asked Horkman to help deliver the completed dresses when she goes to the small West African nation of Burkina Faso next month.

Horkman, a Concordia native and graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, has being studying French in Quebec, Canada, for the past year as preparation for a three-year mission with Child Evangelism Fellowship. She leaves for Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, in mid-July.

There are three other CEF missionaries serving in Burkina Faso, she noted, but she is the first  non-native to serve there and will be the only one in the capital city.

The small nation of Burkina Faso is within the red square.

Burkina Faso is roughly the same size as the state of Colorado but has about 3½ times as many people. The high population density and limited natural resources — issues shared with its neighboring countries — make that area of West Africa one of the poorest regions in the world. About 60 of the Burkinabe people are Muslim and another 15 percent practice tribal religions, with the remainder predominantly Catholic, according to the World Factbook.

The 25-year-old missionary, the daughter of John and Marj Horkman of Concordia, has already been to the equatorial nation three times, but each visit was for just a month. This time she is committed to a three-year stay with the goal of starting “Good News Clubs” for children and then teaching others to carry on her work.

Her goal in Ouagadougou, a city of about 2 million people, is “building relationships” with children as a way of introducing them to Christ.

That goal seems to blend perfectly with the Michigan-based Little Dresses for Africa Inc., a nonprofit Christian organization that began in 2007.

Founder Rachel O’Neill of Brownstown, Mich., believes that Little Dresses for Africa deliver a small dose of hope and love to girls across the poorest regions of Africa (and now, around the world), in the form of simple sheaths sewn by volunteers using mostly donated fabric and notions and then delivered by individual travelers — whether tourists, mission workers and even a National Geographic photographer — to wherever they’re needed.

So far more than 560,000 dresses from all 50 states have been distributed in 31 African countries, as well as Honduras, Guatemala, The Philippines, Cambodia, Mexico, Haiti and poverty-stricken areas in the United States.

Horkman will add to that flow 100 more dresses — each with a matching hair band and a label that reads “Made with care, especially for you by your friends at Neighbor to Neighbor, Concordia, Kan., USA.”

But that doesn’t mean the project is completed for the women at Neighbor to Neighbor, Sister Ramona adds with a laugh. “Now we’ll just start on the next 100.”


More about ‘Little Dresses’

The Little Dresses for Africa — sometimes called “pillowcase dresses” because the simplest way to make them is from pillowcases — are brightly colored sheaths with ribbon ties at each shoulder.

To create them, the downtown Neighbor to Neighbor center has become something of a mini-manufacturing line: On a recent afternoon, it includes one woman to cut the fabric, another to sew the seams, another to add binding to the edges and sew on the ties, still another to add the label (“Made with care, especially for you by your friends at Neighbor to Neighbor, Concordia, Kan., USA”) and a final woman to iron and package the dress and its also-handmade matching hair band.

To learn more about Little Dresses for Africa, you can go to the organization’s website: http://www.littledressesforafrica.org/


Discover Camp comes to the Motherhouse!

May 31, 2012

Like swallows to San Juan Capistrano, the Discover Campers arrived at the Motherhouse in flocks this afternoon, eventually numbering 40 girls in seventh through ninth graders. With them came another 20 mostly teenage counselors along with damp directors and other volunteer staff members.

• • • • • • • •

Serving as camp director for the second year is Jessica Thompson of Kansas City, Kan. Sister Beverly Carlin, vocation director for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, continues as camp coordinator, and numerous other sisters volunteer to help with the three-day annual event. The theme of this year’s Discover Camp is “Ambassadors for Christ.”

More photos will be posted as the camp continues, Please check back here.

Community Garden receives grant from Kansas Project

April 18, 2012

The Concordia Community Garden of Hope has been awarded a $2,150 grant through the Kansas Community Gardens Project, a joint initiative of the Kansas Health Foundation and K-State Research and Extension. The Concordia garden is one of only 24 projects in the state to receive this funding, which will help pay to build raised garden beds for those with limited mobility and to purchase compost tumblers.

The Concordia Community Garden, on the northeast corner of the Nazareth Motherhouse property at 13th and Broadway streets, opened for its third growing season earlier this month. There are 32 plots that are rented by people from throughout Concordia, with the Sisters of St. Joseph providing use of the land as well as water, mulch and seasonal maintenance.

From fostering a greater level of community involvement, to providing healthy foods for schools and nonprofit events, to the personal health of individuals, community garden projects can make a lasting and positive impact on their communities. Through the Kansas Community Gardens Project, the Kansas Health Foundation and K-State Research and Extension look to spread these benefits throughout Kansas by providing not only the grant funds, but also information and assistance to help make the individual garden projects successful community ventures.

Grant recipients were selected through a competitive application process, which drew interest from organizations and gardens throughout the state. The Kansas Community Gardens Project is a three-year initiative, with this year’s recipients representing the first of more than 60 gardens that will eventually join the program.

“This grant has provided a tremendous opportunity for reaching out across the state to help people grow their own fresh produce. We anticipate a significant number of people will be impacted by this generous award as our goal is that each of these gardens still be thriving in a sustainable way in 10 years,” said Dr. Cheryl Boyer, assistant professor and extension specialist, ornamental nursery crops, with K-State Research and Extension. “We are proud of the quality, variety and geographic coverage of the proposals we received this year and that we were able to fund so many great projects.”

“As winter turns into spring, people naturally begin thinking about getting outside and starting a garden,” said Steve Coen, president and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation. “Through the Kansas Community Gardens Project, our hope is that people will take that desire and energy and channel it into contributing to a community garden for the benefit of their entire community.”

For more information about the Concordia Community Garden or to learn how you can participate, contact Cecilia Thrash at Manna House of Prayer, 785-243-4428 or retreatcenter@mannahouse.org.

To speak with someone in more detail about the Kansas Community Gardens Project, please contact Cheryl Boyer (785-532-3504 or crboyer@ksu.edu) or Evelyn Neier (785-410-3760 or eneier@ksu.edu).


April ‘Messenger’ now available

April 17, 2012

“Volume 2” for 2012 goes in the mail this afternoon (April 17), but if you just can’t wait, you can download a PDF of the new issue of The Messenger now. It’s in two sections this time, to make downloading a little easier:

For pages 1 to 7, CLICK HERE.

For pages 8 to 16, CLICK HERE.


There is never any advertising in The Messenger, so donations to help defray production and mailing costs are always appreciated. Just click on the DONATE button below.


April 6, 2012: Earth Day reminds us — again — of our planet’s fragility, by Sister Carolyn Teter

April 6, 2012

The theme of the World Day of Peace in 2010 was, “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.”  Because of the close bond that exists in our globalized and interconnected world, we need to emblazon that statement in our consciousness so we have a heightened awareness of the fragility of Planet Earth, caused mainly by our carelessness and disregard toward the natural environment.

John McConnell, one of the founders and promoters of Earth Day in the United States, presented “77 Theses On the Care of the Earth.”  In them, he offered the essential ideas that he felt were needed to bring about a global change of consciousness from mindless exploitation of the earth resources, to a peaceful nurture of Planet Earth. Here are a few of his ideas pertaining primarily to building relationships to care for the Earth.  (Log on to www.earthsite.org/77.htm for all 77.)

•  That mutual trust is necessary in order to counter the threats to our planet.

•  That only by open communication and joint action, for a great common good, can mutual trust develop.

•  That the one thing we have in common is our planet.

•  That a campaign for the care of Earth will create relationships leading to mutual trust and ultimately to reciprocal disarmament and stable peace.

•  That peaceful actions beget peace.

•  That in a world of instant global communications a strong, informed public opinion in all nation’s dedicated to peace and care of Earth, could become the greatest deterrent  to war and local violence.

•  That the greatest challenge in history is the present challenge of destiny involving all humanity; a challenge to reclaim the Earth for all peoples and to free them from the fear of war and want.

•  That accepting this challenge will bring the measure of trust needed to achieve these goals.

Earth Day 2012 is April 22, and it is estimated that 1 billion people around the globe will participate in this event to help “Mobilize the Earth.” It will be a time when people of all nationalities and backgrounds will give voice to their appreciation of the Planet Earth, and demand its protection so that a sustainable future can be assured for all.  It will be a time for calling on every individual, organizations and government to do their part. The goal of the day is to collect “A Billion Acts of Green” to show the importance of environmental issues around the world.

What can we do here in Concordia on April 22 (and every day) to create a community of persons who are committed to saving Planet Earth and thus bringing about a culture of peace in this community and in the world? Here are a few suggestions.  (And for more, go to www.earthday.org.)

• Attend an Earth Day event.

• Organize an Earth Day event

• Talk to someone about your concern for environmental issues — global warming, the water scarcity, renewable energy instead of the use of fossil fuels.

• Change a light bulb.  If every U.S. family replaced one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb, it would eliminate 90 billion pounds of greenhouse gases, the same as taking 7.5 million cars off the road.

• Reduce, reuse, recycle.  By recycling half of your household waste, you can save 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.

• Use less heat and air conditioning.

• Drive less and drive smart.  Check out options for carpooling to work or school.  Make sure your car is running efficiently.

• Buy energy-efficient products.

• Use less hot water.

• Plant a tree.

• Encourage others to conserve.

If each person chose one of these suggestions and put it into practice, the goal of Earth Day 2012 — to collect a “Billion Acts of Green” — would be accomplished. But most important, by these actions a culture of peace in our community and in the world is being created.


— Sister Carolyn Teter is a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia on staff at Manna House of Prayer. She is also a member of the Concordia Year of Peace Committee.
















Commitment to civility continues to grow

April 6, 2012

For the third year in a row, Concordians have stepped up to sign a public “Civility Pledge” sponsored by the Year of Peace Committee.

This year’s pledge — with 312 signatures — was published in today’s Concordia Blade-Empire newspaper (Friday, April 6) and is available as a downloadable PDF; just CLICK HERE.

In 2010, when the committee first introduced the Civility Pledge, it garnered 244 signatures. Last year that number grew to 299.

People signing the pledge promise to be “civil in my public discourse and behavior” and “respectful of others whether or not I agree with them” and to “stand against incivility when I see it.”

Sister Jean Rosemarynoski, who chairs the Year of Peace Committee, said the Civility Pledge is particularly important in this presidential election year.

“Civility means being respectful despite our differences of opinion,” she said. “We want to get the message out, and then encourage everyone to live that message: That all people must be treated with dignity and respect.”

The Year of Peace Committee came together in late 2009 as a result of an “interest group” at the Community Needs Forum working lunches hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph.  Anyone who wants more information about the continuing Concordia Year of Peace or would like to be part of the committee may contact Sister Jean at 785/243-2149 or by email at sisterjean@csjkansas.org.

Each year the Blade-Empire has generously donated space to publish the signatures.


— 30 —



Hays, Kan., procession unites participants

April 2, 2012

Sister Janet LeDuc joins Palm Sunday event

The Hays (Kans.) Daily News

Easter is one of Virginia Ekey’s favorite times of the year, and she said she treasures the years her birthday falls on or near Easter Sunday.

Chances are, she will remember her 75th for a long time.

Ekey, who will turn 75 on Holy Thursday, was one of approximately 150 people who took part in a multi-denominational procession Sunday in downtown Hays.

Because of a severe case of arthritis in her knees, Ekey’s main mode of transportation is a wheelchair.

That didn’t stop her from participating in the procession. Her good friend, Debby Stauverman, offered to push her the 12 blocks.

“One day I came in, and she was waving the newspaper at me with an article about the procession, saying, ‘Your church and my church are going to do this together,’ ” said Stauverman, a member of Liberty Christian Fellowship. Ekey is a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church.

On Sunday, Ekey and Stauverman were a perfect picture of the unity officials at the four churches in the neighborhood hoped to symbolize when they planned the procession as a special way of starting Holy Week.

Mission accomplished.

Between 30 and 40 people from each of the four churches of different denominations participated in the procession, which began and ended at St. Joseph Catholic Church at the corner of 13th and Ash streets. Following the procession, Father Barnabas Eichor, associate pastor at St. Joseph, blessed the palms before people went different directions for services at their own churches.

Parishioners young and old seemed excited as they gathered a little after 9 a.m. in front of St. Joseph Church.

As the group approached the First Baptist Church on Fort Street, it was greeted with several people sitting in lawn chairs on the sidewalk in front of the church, waving their palms with one hand and waving to the crowd with the other.

All along the way, participants sang “All Glory, Laud and Honor,” while marching to the beat of drummers Max Walker and Niels Rahbec, seniors at Hays High School.

“We don’t have to talk about theology to share our faith in the ecumenical faith, to experience the Christian journey,” said Sister Janet LeDuc, evangelization coordinator for St. Joseph Parish.

The procession was open to all, and LeDuc said she spotted parishioners from other Catholic churches in town.

“The awareness was there,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be nice to make this an annual thing?”

Members of Liberty Christian Fellowship on Ninth Street joined in the procession at Ninth and Fort, and the group picked up its last set of walkers at First United Methodist Church at Eighth and Ash.

The Rev. Jerre Nolte of the Methodist church said there would have been even more from his congregation had the group not been such fast walkers.

Several of his parishioners still were in the first service of the morning.

Nonetheless, Nolte called the procession “a terrific turnout.”

“It added so much to the day,” he said.

One United Methodist family decided to attend the second service Sunday so it could participate in the procession.

“They’ve been excited about this all week,” Darren Stieben said of his two young children, Kate, 5, and Brett, 4, as he made his way up the street with Brett on his shoulders and his wife, Angela, and Kate by his side.

He said they were a little disappointed there wasn’t a donkey, as advertised — Nolte said the donkey backed out at the last minute but plans already are in the works for having an animal, of some kind, in the procession next year.

The Stiebens still enjoyed participating as a family, and as one along with parishioners from numerous churches.

“It was nice that all those churches are so close together,” Darren Stieben said.

In more ways than one.

“It was something we enjoyed being a part of the larger church community,” said Bill Poland of First Baptist Church.

In addition to walking shoes, there were plenty of wheels as several parents pushed their children in strollers.

And then there was Stauverman pushing Ekey in her wheelchair — that is, until they started the incline on Ash Street, heading north on the final leg back to St. Joseph Church.

“I don’t know the gentleman who offered to push her up the hill, but I sure do thank him,” Stauverman said. “That really helped a lot.”

It was another example of unity organizers of the procession had hoped for.

“Unity is very refreshing,” Stauverman said, “and it can also be quite powerful.”

Congregation welcomes associates from Ness City, Manhattan

March 31, 2012

Sister Rosabel Flax, second from right, introduces new CSJ Associate Rosalita Flax of Ness City, Kan., to the Sisters of St. Joseph during a commitment ceremony at the Nazareth Motherhouse Saturday afternoon. Looking on are new CSJ Associate Catherine Seitz of Manhattan, left, and Sister Mary Jo Thummel, second from left.

CSJ Associates from across Kansas and beyond took part in a ceremony this afternoon (Saturday, March 31) as two new members made their first commitments and 14 members renewed their commitments.

• • • • • • • • •

The simple ceremony at the Nazareth Motherhouse concluded the annual weekend Associates Retreat, in which all 16 had taken part, at Manna House of Prayer.

The new CSJ Associates are Catherine Seitz of Manhattan, Kan., and Rosalita Flax of Ness City, Kan.

The associates renewing their annual commitment Saturday were:

  • Carol Arts of Concordia
  • Sheryl Bahr of Rossville, Kan.
  • Betty Bombardier of Concordia
  • Janet Chapman of Concordia
  • Amber Charboneau of Dewey, Okla.
  • Jane Christensen of Concordia
  • Rita Collette of Concordia
  • Stephanie Hudson of Kansas City, Mo.
  • Susan LeDuc of Ames, Kan.
  • Bill and Susan Riordan of Salina
  • Myrna Shelton of Concordia
  • Jennifer Spangler of Overland Park, Kan.
  • Nancy Welsh of Topeka

CSJ Associates are Christian men and women from all ages and all walks of life who are committed to Gospel values, who feel drawn by the charism, spirituality and mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph, who want to deepen their own spiritual life and who are willing to give themselves in service to the dear neighbor.

As associates, they meet monthly with other associates and sisters, participate in the prayer life of the congregation and attend retreats, assemblies and celebrations of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

There are now more than 30 CSJ Associates in Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma and New Mexico, as well as at least that many working with the Sisters of St. Joseph’s Brazil mission.

For more information on the CSJ Associate program, contact:

Sister Jean Befort at jeanbefort@sbcglobal.net or Sister Janet Lander at janetmarycsj@yahoo.com

or go to www.csjkansas.org/about/associates/

Fun day builds girls’ awareness, confidence

March 30, 2012

Sister Julie Christensen, far right, watches as senior girls from Sacred Heart and St. Xavier high schools try "mirroring" each other in an exercise at the Nazareth Motherhouse Friday (March 30).

Eighteen high school seniors spent today (Friday, March 30) at the Nazareth Motherhouse in activities that looked for all the world like silliness and play.

• • • • • • •

But the point of the annual daylong retreat for senior girls was much more serious: To help them understand the challenge of being faithful to themselves as they move into adulthood and the next phases of their lives.

Girls from Sacred Heart High School in Salina and St. Xavier High School in Junction City took part in the program, let by Sisters Beverly Carlin, Julie Christensen, Anna Marie Broxterman and Polly Kukula.

To keep the group energized after lunch with the Sisters of St. Joseph in the Motherhouse dining room, Sister Julie led an exercise in “mirroring,” in which one girl led the gestures and movement as her partner attempted to exactly follow, or mirror, those actions. The idea, Sister Julie said, was to maintain eye contact and do the exercise in silence — but that proved too much of a task for a room full of teenage girls. Amidst giggles, each pair tried to be perfect mirrors.

In real life, Sister Julie asked at the end of the exercise, who do we try to mirror? Whose actions do we try to copy, and why do we do that?

As the girls go into unfamiliar situations after high school graduation — whether it be college or a job or the military — they will find themselves copying the actions of people around them as they try to get comfortable and fit in, Sister Julie said. “But the one person who is always there, who should always be a reflection of the true you, is the person looking in the mirror,” she told the group.

Also taking part today was Alice Jones, a senior at Kansas State University, who talked to the girls about her own transition from high school to college.

Other presentations during the day focused on the emotions that come from being out of our comfort zone and finding the courage to take risks.

The girls also joined the sisters for Mass at the Motherhouse.

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