Friday’s the deadline to sign Civility Pledge

March 24, 2012

Friday (March 30) is the deadline to sign the 2012 Civility Pledge, one of the ongoing projects of the Concordia Year of Peace Committee.

Copies of the pledge are available to sign at the Frank Carlson Library, Concordia.  Signature sheets are also available to download; just CLICK HERE.

The Year of Peace Committee launched the community Civility Pledge drive in 2010, and 244 Concordians signed on. In 2011, that number grew to 300. Each year the Concordia Blade-Empire published a page of the signatures, which the newspaper will do again sometime in April.

The Civility Pledge says: “I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior, I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them and I will 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.”

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

Sisters honor longtime employees at special dinner

February 21, 2012

A half dozen employees representing more than 100 years of service to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia were honored this evening (Feb. 21) at the 2012 Employee Gratitude Dinner at the Motherhouse.

• • • • • • • • • •

The annual event drew of a crowd of nearly 120 employees, their guests and Sisters of St. Joseph. Since the dinner was planned for Shrove Tuesday, the last day before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, the theme for the evening was “The Abundance of Mardi Gras.” As part of the celebration, the congregation’s Leadership Council performed a Dixieland/rap song praising each employee by name. Sister Jean Rosemarynoski wrote the song and Patrick Sieben, music director at Cloud County Community College, accompanied the council on clarinet.

The Sisters of St. Joseph have about 70 employees in Concordia, working at the Nazareth Motherhouse, Manna House of Prayer and the CSJ Administrative Center at 215 Court St.

The employees honored, all of Concordia and listed with their jobs and length of service, are:

Paula Tatum, housekeeper, 30 years.
Curtis Mansfield. maintenance II, 25 years.
Doug Herman, treasurer/chief financial officer, 20 years
 Trisha Fraser Champlin, charge nurse, 10 years
Larry Metro, food service manager/dietitian, 10 years
Penny Arnold, administrative services manager, 10 years




Sister adds testimony against HB 2576

February 14, 2012

 Sister Esther Pineda, director of the Justice and Peace Center in Salina, on Feb. 15, 2012, submitted this letter of opposition to Kansas House Bill 2576. The so-called “Anti-Harboring Bill” would make it a crime to harbor or assist any person who is subsequently found to be in the United States without documentation. The Kansas House of Representatives is holding hearings on HB 2576 and other immigration-related measures this week.

The full text of the letter is below. Or, for a copy in Word document format, CLICK HERE.


February 15, 2012


House Federal and State Affairs Committee
Representative Steve Brunk, Chairman
Topeka, KS


I am submitting this written testimony to be filed with the record of testimony in opposition to HB 2576.

We, Sisters of St. Joseph have been in Kansas since 1883 ministering to the needs of Kansans in the area of education and health care.  Our religious Charism and faith calls us to be attentive to the most vulnerable; among them, the immigrant who finds himself/ herself away from home and, often, in vulnerable situations.

It goes without saying, that our immigration policy is broken. We are pained by the inability of the Federal Government to enact a fair and humane immigration policy; therefore, causing undue and unnecessary hardships on the immigrant who is present among us.  As a community of faith, we are committed to fair and just solutions, but these solutions only come through the Federal government who is charged with the responsibility of immigration; States trying to “piece meal” a solution is at times harmful and at best, not helpful.

In a desperate grasp of the issue, this Kansas legislation (HB2576) is proposing that communities of faith, such as mine, choose between following the law and following the dictates of our faith. Aiding those in need is one of the basic tenants of our faith and of our Religious Community.  The Sisters of St. Joseph must consider the “dear neighbor” without distinction. We take seriously the teaching of Jesus who said, “In Matthew’s text on the Final Judgment : “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a  stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35) .  And I don’t believe Matthew added: AND YOU MIGHT BE ARRESTED FOR DOING SO!

Specifically, we oppose any legislative proposal (such as HB2576) that would:

  • Require clergy and lay leaders to enforce  immigration policies, discriminate based upon immigration status, or take legal responsibility for failing to report the undocumented to immigration officials,
  • Create barriers to essential services for those eligible, particularly the U.S.-born children of mixed-status households.

Living according to our faith and community’s directive to extend compassion should not be criminalized as “harboring.”

Sister Esther Pineda, CSJ

Congregation names Leadership Council

February 6, 2012

Sister Marcia Allen

Sister Marcia Allen has been re-elected as president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

She was named to the position Monday as the congregation’s three-day “Senate of Elections” came to an end. The Senate — the Concordia congregation’s highest deliberative body — convenes every four years, and the schedule depends on the agenda. This Senate began in November 2011 with an assembly of all the sisters in the Catholic religious order and then concluded this week with the Leadership Council elections.

Sister Marcia will serve on the Council with six other elected leaders. Five of those six are completing their first terms on the council and were re-elected for another four years.

The new term will begin on July 1.

For Sister Marcia, a native of Plainville, Kan., the 2012-16 term will actually be her fourth stint as president. She was first elected in 1987 and then re-elected in 1991. Under the congregation’s Constitution, there is a limit of two consecutive terms as president. But she was elected again in 2008.

Sister Marcia was received into the congregation in 1959. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Marymount College and a master’s degree from Kansas State University. Later she earned a doctorate in applied ministry from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Mishawaka, Ind.

The other council members re-elected Monday were:

  • Sister Jean Rosemarynoski

    Sister Jean Rosemarynoski, who was elected vice president. She is currently the congregation’s Development Director and has served the last four years on the council. A native of Wichita, Sister Jean was received into the congregation in 1994. She received a bachelor’s degree from Washburn University and master’s degrees from Kansas State University and St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. Prior to her election to the council four years ago, Sister Jean served as communications director for the congregation. Previously she was a special education teacher, served on the Cloud County Resource Council and was a staff member at Manna House of Prayer in Concordia.

    Sister Beth Stover

    Sister Beth Stover, of Beloit, Kan., who has served since 2008 as vice president. She was received into the congregation in 1960. She received a bachelor’s degree from Marymount College and a master’s from St. Louis University. Before being elected to the council in 2008, Sister Beth was program director for the North Central-Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging. Before that she had served as director of laboratory services in hospitals, as administrator of the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia and as executive director of Catholic Charities of Salina.

    Sister Anna Marie Broxterman

    Sister Anna Marie Broxterman, of Baileyville, Kan. She has been a Sister of St. Joseph since 1959 and earned a bachelor’s degree from Marymount College and a master’s degree from Regis University in Denver. The longtime vocation director for the congregation until her election to the council four years ago, Sister Anna Marie earlier served as a hospital nurse, as a staff member at Manna House of Prayer in Concordia and as a campus minister.

    Sister Judy Stephens

    Sister Judy Stephens, who is originally from Oakley, Kan. She was  received into the congregation in 1961 and earned a bachelor’s degree from Marymount College and a master’s from the University of Detroit. She served in the Hispanic ministry for the Catholic Charities of Salina before her election to the council in 2008. Previously she had done similar work in Silver City, N.M., and Palomas, Mexico, and was on the staff of Manna House of Prayer in Concordia.

    Sister Mary Jo Thummel

    Sister Mary Jo Thummel, a native of Plainville, Kan. A Sister of St. Joseph since 1959, Sister Mary Jo received a bachelor’s degree from Marymount College and a master’s from Creighton University in Omaha. Before her election to the council in 2008, she was the pastoral associate for St. Francis Xavier Parish in Junction City, Kan. Previously she had served as an elementary school teacher, parish minister and retreat director.

Sister Therese Blecha

The new member of the council is Sister Therese Blecha. Originally from rural Republic County, Kan., she has been a Sister of St. Joseph since 1963. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Marymount College, master’s degrees from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and Kansas State University, and a doctorate in chemical education from Kansas State. She is currently the administration accountant for the Sisters of St. Joseph and also teaches and tutors part time at Cloud County Community College. She has also taught chemistry and science at other colleges and served as general treasurer for the congregation from 1994 to 2008.

Sister Regina Ann Brummel, who has served on the council since 2008, did not seek re-election.


11th bishop of Salina Diocese named today

February 6, 2012

Bishop-elect Edward J. Weisenburger

Salina — Pope Benedict XVI today named Msgr. Edward J. Weisenburger the new bishop of the Diocese of Salina.

The announcement was made official at noon today in Rome (5 a.m. Central time).

Bishop-elect Weisenburger, 51, presently is the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the rector of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral in Oklahoma City. He succeeds Bishop Paul S. Coakley, who was named archbishop of Oklahoma City on Dec. 16, 2010.

Bishop-elect Weisenburger was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 19, 1987, at the cathedral in Oklahoma City by Archbishop Charles A. Salatka. He was parochial vicar of St. Mary Church in Ponca City, Okla., from 1987 to 1990. He then began canon law studies at the University of St. Paul in Ottawa, Canada, where he earned the pontifical J.C.L. degree.

Upon his return to the archdiocese in 1992, he was appointed vice chancellor and adjutant judicial vicar. In addition to Chancery duties he also provided weekend parish and prison ministries from 1992 to 1995 and served as an on-site chaplain for rescue workers in the weeks following the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

In the fall of 1995, Bishop-elect Weisenburger was elected to the Council of Priests and appointed to the Archdiocesan College of Consulters. He has served as a member of the Seminarian Board for 15 years. In June of 1996, he was appointed vicar general of the Oklahoma City Archdiocese. He has been an officer with the Archdiocesan Tribunal for almost 20 years and has served in various capacities, including promoter of justice for the cause of canonization of Father Stanley Francis Rother, Servant of God. On Oct. 2, 2009, he was appointed a prelate of honor to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, with the title reverend monsignor.

Bishop-elect Weisenburger has served as pastor of two parishes, from 1995 to 2002 at Holy Trinity Parish in Okarche, Okla., and from 2002 until now as
rector of the cathedral in Oklahoma City.

Bishop-elect Weisenburger was born on Dec. 23, 1960, in Alton, Ill., to Edward John and Asella (Walters) Weisenburger, the third of their four surviving children. His father, now retired, was a military officer and his mother, who was born and raised in Ellis County, Kan., was a homemaker. He spent two years of his childhood in Hays, Kan., but grew up primarily in Lawton, Okla., where he graduated from high school in 1979. He attended Conception Seminary College in Conception, Mo., graduating with honors in 1983. He then attended the American College Seminary at the Catholic University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium. He graduated with honors, earning the pontifical S.T.B. in theology along with an M.A. in religious studies in 1986 and a master’s in moral and religious sciences in 1987.

He is a member of the Canon Law Society of America, is a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and a Knight Commander in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. When time permits, he enjoys reading and occasional travel.

The date for the ordination and installation of Bishop-elect Weisenburger as bishop of Salina will be announced in the near future.

Sisters bring immigration rights advocates together

January 19, 2012

This afternoon's meeting began with a prayer — and Mary Salazar, with the Univisión affiliate in Wichita, was there to report on it for the TV station's Spanish-language newscast.


Just days after Catholic bishops had convened a national conference in Denver on immigration policies and ways to move the issue to the forefront of political debate, a much smaller group of people from throughout central and western Kansas gathered in Salina Thursday to talk about immigrants in the state.


• • • • • • •

Nearly two dozen Catholic sisters, social service workers and other citizens took part in the “Conversation about Immigration” organized by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. They had been invited by Cheryl Lyn Higgins, the coordinator of Neighborhood Initiatives, an office within the Concordia congregation that is working with the sisters’ Immigration Committee.

Higgins said this meeting — and a second one scheduled for March 1 in Dodge City — were designed to “develop a better picture of what is available for immigrants and what needs to be done.”

Many of the participants brought to the meeting passion and a certain level of frustration over limited services, funding cuts and a lack of understanding among both politicians and voters.

“There are a lot of people who really do know our (economic) need for the immigrant,” said Sister Therese Bangert, a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth and a longtime immigration rights advocate. “But we have to be more effective in getting that message out. Maybe, eventually, our own self-interest will move us (toward immigration reform).”

Sister Therese was among those last year who lobbied against Kansas House Bill 2372, which was authored by Secretary of State Kris Kobach and which contained provisions modeled after the Arizona law — also written by Kobach — that is still being challenged as unconstitutional. The Kansas House voted 84-40 against pulling HB 2372 from its Judiciary Committee, where the bill was tabled indefinitely.

But, Sister Therese said, that does not mean Kobach has given up his agenda on immigration. “He has said this year he’ll divide that bill into maybe nine little bills that won’t attract that much attention,” she said.

Sister Mary Ellen Loch of the Congregation of St. Joseph in Wichita said that educating laypeople of all faiths remains a crucial element.

While the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph and numerous individual church organizations and religious communities – including the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia — have called for national immigration reform, Sister Mary Ellen said, “The people (of the Church) have to see this as an issue for all of us. We’re not going to change anything until we change the spiritual attitude of the people.”


Cynthia Colbert, executive director of Catholic Charities in Wichita, said that after people are educated about the issue, they can apply political pressure. But, she noted, that takes money.

“We need a political action committee, we need a lobbyist,” she said. “Right now there’s no unified organization to get people calling legislators.”

Colbert added that while there are many Kansans in support of national immigration reform, there are also some who stand adamantly opposed to that position. “We’ve got to speak to those in the middle,” she said. “We’ve got to help them understand why this issue is so important to us, as people of faith and as Americans.”

Sister Judy Stephens, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia’s Immigration Committee, said that people in Wichita and other cities across Kansas need also to understand that services for immigrants are mostly limited to urban areas – despite the need for them in rural, agricultural areas where many new immigrants may work. “There is a Hispanic, Spanish-speaking family in virtually every little town, and yet there are no bilingual services outside of Salina, Wichita and Topeka,” Sister Judy said.

A Concordia resident who is fluent in Spanish, Sister Judy frequently provides informal translation services for people in the Concordia area.

Higgins said the sisters’ Immigration Committee will take all the comments and information gathered at Thursday’s meeting — and well as information from the upcoming Dodge City session — and compile it, “to see what steps we can take.” The goal, she said, is to find ways to work together collectively.




Georgia woman joins congregation as agrégée candidate

November 23, 2011

On hand for the agrégée reception were, from left, Sister Diane Brin, Sister Helen Mick, new candidate Crystal Payment, Father Bill Hao, Sister Jodi Creten and fellow candidate Dian Hall.

Crystal Payment of Douglasville, Ga., became the newest candidate for Agrégée membership in the Sisters of St. Joseph during a simple ceremony Sunday (Nov. 20).

She is the seventh woman currently in the process to become an agrégée, a form of membership in the congregation that dates back to its founding in 1650 and that was revitalized by the sister in Concordia in 2006.

From left: Crystal's daughter-in-law Patrice, son Andrew, Crystal, granddaughter Megan and daughter Julie.

Crystal was received by Sister Diane Brin of Rome, Ga., representing the Leadership Council of the congregation, as well of her two mentors, Sisters Jodi Creten and Helen Mick of Atlanta. Also on hand was Dian Hall, an agrégée candidate who lives in Cartersville, Ga. The reception took place at All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, Ga.

Crystal’s spiritual director, Father Bill Hao, gave her a special blessing at the end of the service.

The term agrégée — pronounced ah-gre-ZHEY — comes from the French for “attached to” or “aggregated with.” It is a form of membership in the religious congregation that dates back to our founding in 17th-century France, when Sisters of St. Joseph were either canonically vowed “principal sisters” or so-called agrégée or “country” sisters. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia re-established — and revitalized — this form of religious life in 2006. Today there are six women who have professed the vow of fidelity to God and to the congregation as agrégées.

Crystal and the other candidates will spend up to three years studying, both with their mentors and other members of the congregation, and ultimately  deciding if this form of religious life fits them and their spiritual needs.

For more information on the agrégée movement, contact Sister Bette Moslander at 785/243-4428 or

Or, for an archive of all our news about agrégées, CLICK HERE.


Lunch group endorses Year of Peace for 2012

November 16, 2011

Bruce Nutter, a regular participant in the "working lunches," asks a question during Wednesday's event at the Nazareth Motherhouse.

During Wednesday's lunch meeting, Sister Jean Rosemarynoski explains a survey she created asking for feedback on the Concordia Year of Peace.

Those taking part in the 16th Community Needs Forum “working lunch” Wednesday were fewer in number, but bursting with ideas about the future of the nearly 3-year-old process. They were equally enthusiastic about one of the best-known projects that grew out of the forum: The Concordia Year of Peace.

In recapping the idea behind the Year of Peace, Sister Jean Rosemarynoski — who has chaired the committee guiding the effort — said that when it began in September 2009, it was intended as a 16-month effort. It was expected to continue through the end of 2010 and to celebrate peace and teach about living a nonviolent life. When “Another Year of Peace” was announced for all of 2011, committee members committed to another year of regular columns in the Blade-Empire plus a book of past columns, radio commentaries on KNCK, peace-related films at Cloud County Community College and partnerships to help organize the National Night Out in August and the Peace Fair at the Nazareth Motherhouse in September.

The committee wants to continue its efforts into 2012, Rosemarynoski said at Wednesday’s lunch, and needs opinions about what Year of Peace efforts have been most effective as well as suggestions on how to move forward.

Participants at Wednesday's lunch took a couple of minutes to complete the Year of Peace survey.

Earlier this week, she posted a short online survey to gather information. Anyone in Concordia or Cloud County may complete the survey, which is available at this web link:

“I really liked the National Night Out event,” said Melina Hemphill at Wednesday’s lunch. “It was something that really worked. We should do that every year if not twice a year.”

Holly Brown agreed. “The National Night Out was totally fun. We had three or four blocks, with people of all ages. It was nice to meet our older neighbors and have our kids meet them.”

The Year of Peace Committee and the Concordia Police Department co-sponsored Concordia’s participation in the National Night Out in early August. Some two dozen neighborhoods hosted block parties or other activities so neighbors could get to know each other.

Melina Hemphill of the Concordia office of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilation Services gave an update on changes in the state's "Temporary Assistance for Needy Families" program that took effect Nov. 1.

Sister Betty Suther called the regular columns written by community members and published in the Blade-Empire “exceptional.” “They keep us thinking about peace,” she added.

Others cited a number of other Year of Peace activities as particularly important: The Civility Pledge, “Engage” book study and workshop, the Peace Fair (in partnership with other groups) and “Year of Peace Supporter” signs posted around town.

Sister Bette Moslander noted that since 2012 is a presidential election year, the Year of Peace could focus on” humanizing the political process — to help keep the conversation respectful and meaningful.”

Or, suggested Crystal Paredes, “Maybe we should change it up a little, so make it a Year of Giving for 2012.”

The Year of Peace Committee is expected to meet soon to consider all these ideas and information from the online survey, and then will announce plans for 2012.

The two dozen or so lunch participants also had ideas about the future of the Community Needs Forum, which started in the fall of 2008 with informal lunches with the Sisters of St. Joseph. Wednesday’s lunch was the 16th meeting in the process.

“At the beginning, we asked you what was important to you,” said Sister Marcia Allen, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph, which has hosted all the meetings. “Now we’re asking you that again.”

Community issues raised during the meeting included homelessness as we go into the winter, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and challenges getting information out to the community.

The next working lunch is set for Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Nazareth Motherhouse, and everyone is invited to take part. You do not have to have attended earlier forums to join the process now. If you have questions or would like more information about the Community Needs Forum, contact Sister Jean Rosemarynoski at 243-2149 or



Neighbor to Neighbor receives $4,000 from QuiltFest

November 16, 2011

Gerry Pounds of Glasco, right, talks about her idea for a quilt show to benefit Neighbor to Neighbor, during a reception at the center Tuesday evening.

Volunteers and committee members were on hand Tuesday evening (Nov. 15) as the KS 150 QuiltFest Committee gave Neighbor to Neighbor $4,000 that was raised during the first-ever event in October.

Susie Haver of the Cloud County Convention and Tourism office said people from 33 Kansas cities and towns and nine states had visited the QuiltFest exhibits.

Gerry Pounds of Glasco, who came up with the idea of a quilt show to benefit the women’s center in downtown Concordia, presented an oversized check to Sisters Jean Befort, Pat McLennon and Ramona Medina during a simple reception at Neighbor to Neighbor.

The center opened in May 2010 at 103 E. Sixth St. and is operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia for women and women with young children. In addition to the three sisters, its staff includes a growing cadre of volunteers.

There is never any cost to the women taking part; all the programs are offered free, with funding coming from a handful of grants and individual donations. The QuiltFest marked the first time proceeds from an event directly benefited the center.

Gerry Pounds of Glasco presents the oversized $4,000 check Tuesday evening to the Sisters of St. Joseph who operate Neighbor to Neighbor.

Pounds, who is an avid and experienced quilter, wanted to do something to help the center and more than a year ago began recruiting volunteers to put together an event. That group — which ultimately included Susie Haver and Tammy Britt of the Cloud County Convention and Tourism office, Sister Betty Suther of Manna House of Prayer, Linda Houser of Jade Travel, Marsha Doyenne of Fabric Essentials and quilter Bonnie Strait of Jamestown — developed the idea of the two-day QuiltFest held Oct. 7 and 8.

A total of 216 quilted items, including about 180 full-size quilts, were exhibited at the Nazareth Motherhouse and at Living Hope Foursquare Church in Concordia. There were also quilting demonstrations, a vendors’ hall, an evening social and a “quilters’ thrift shop” as part of the event.

The QuiltFest’s featured event was the dinner and quilt auction Saturday evening, where 20 pieces had been donated for sale. Those donating quilts were asked to give at least a portion of the proceeds to Neighbor to Neighbor.

Bidders ultimately anted up more than $6,000 for the items, and took home pieces ranging from a Northcott Flower of the Month tabletopper and a Baby Cat child’s quilt to king-size and antique quilts in an array of designs and colors. The featured item of the evening was a Harley-Davidson quilt made and donated by Sister Betty Suther.

On Tuesday evening, Gerry Pounds said the QuiltFest Committee plans another event in two years, but no date or details have been set.

Sponsors of this year’s event included the Knot-Tea Ladies Quilt Guild of Glasco, Cloud County Convention and Tourism, Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Stained Glass Stitchers of Concordia, Concordia Lutheran Church and Living Hope Foursquare Church.

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