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 —



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 sisterjean@csjkansas.org.

March 2, 2012: Music helps visualize a beautiful path to peace, by Barbara Akers

March 2, 2012

I never cease to be amazed at the way God weaves life moment by moment.

While playing the piano one morning, I received several welcomed phone calls from family and friends. Before returning to my piano, I checked for any new emails and was surprised to see I was asked to write a column for the Blade-Empire. My first thought was could I ever compose a piece worthy of printing in the time allowed. Within minutes though, I realized my morning was already writing the piece for me. The theme — “building community, nurturing relationships: a path to peace” — was exactly what my phone conversations and piano music had been speaking to my heart.

During my phone visits, no world peace treaties were signed, crimes continued to be committed and injustices and poverty still overwhelmed people’s lives. That morning, though, found me coming alongside family members and friends as we each poured ourselves out, the good, the bad and yes, even at times the ugly. There was some laughter and even once the choking back of tears. The conversations were filled with life: births anticipated, relationships desired, choices being made, thankfulness for each other and even amazement at dire situations playing out to perfection. We were a community; we are a community. We are there for each other, always striving to build each other up and never tear down.

The song I was playing that morning was “How Beautiful” by Twila Paris. I never tire of the continuous practice as it fills my soul with joy.

One word is printed above the first note to describe the manner in which it should be played, “flowing.”  About midway through the song the flow changes with larger chords, different runs and even a brief new rhythm. I find my fingers stretching and my mind tensed trying to accomplish the passage. Shortly, it quiets down to very simple flow again. Someone unfamiliar with the song could easily think it is about finished.  The soft passage is leading to an impressive key change and powerful flowing music to the slowed end. Throughout the music there are a numerous instances of notes played together that normally would be thought to clash, yet when mixed in with other notes they bring the perfect blend of harmony.

There are two phrases in the lyrics that lend well to the message of this article.  The first is “how beautiful the tender eyes that choose to forgive and never despise.”

We all have at times been on the giving or receiving end of hurtful words or actions. Can we choose today to ask forgiveness from those we have hurt and offer forgiveness to those who brought us pain? Can we feel the “how beautiful” already showering down on us?  Romans 12:18 states, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” The whole forgiveness issue depends on each of us individually. As we are able to offer and accept forgiveness, we will experience inner peace. Forgiving is always worth the cost.

The other phrase is “how beautiful when humble hearts give the fruit of pure lives so that others may live,” which takes me straight to Galatians 5:22-23a:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Just think what a ripple effect could occur if we each could be humble enough to allow those “fruits” to flow from us to others. Can we choose today to work on having that beautiful outpouring from us to others rather than no outpouring or worse yet, harsh words, impatience, hatred and tearing down? The fruit of the Spirit when shared will always build up and nurture.

The phrase “how beautiful” occurs 20 times in the song. If even one were removed, the lyrics would be incomplete.

We will each desire the song of our life to be one of beauty. How many times will we allow the Master Composer to insert “how beautiful” in our composition? Will we choose to have a simple flow from start to finish or will we welcome more challenging passages that stretch and tense us and develop strength and growth within? Will our life song build towards the finish? As our responsibilities from earlier years change, we may just find opportunities to serve, give and come alongside others knocking at our door.

Will we want those notes that should clash interspersed throughout our life song? Think for a moment. Every one of us is capable of being a clashing note. Beautiful harmony is only achieved as we look beyond ourselves. As we slowly master that more difficult task, we will realize that community is being built, relationships are being nurtured and the path to peace is almost visible.

How Beautiful.

— Barbara Akers is a wife, mother and grandmother who lives in Concordia.

It’s time again to pledge to be civil!

February 23, 2012

THE 2012 CIVILITY PLEDGE signature drive officially begins today (Feb. 23) — and if you want to join the effort for a more civil community, you can download signature forms here. For a form for your group to sign (it has room for 18 signatures), CLICK HERE. For if you just need a form for your own signature, CLICK HERE. And feel free to make as many copies as you need!

This is the third year the Concordia Year of Peace Committee has asked people throughout the community to sign the Civility Pledge — and like the past two years, the Concordia Blade-Empire has agreed to donate a full page to publish the signatures.

Signatures must be returned by March 30 to Bob Steimel, PO Box 213, Concordia KS 66901.

Feb. 17, 2012: Civility Pledge helps us all build harmony, by Holly Boley and Will Strommen

February 17, 2012

“Civility costs nothing, and buys everything,” Mary Wortley Montagu said.

We both believe in that quote. To us it means that just a simple act of civil behavior can get you far in life. Once again the Concordia Year of Peace Committee is asking everyone in the community to join together to promote civility in public discourse and behavior.

The first challenge in the Civility Pledge is, “I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.” This truly boils down to just doing the right thing. If there is any thought in your mind that would lead you to believe an action is wrong, chances are it is. Remember though, “Sometimes the right thing and the hard thing are the same thing.”

The second challenge is to be respectful of others whether or not you agree. It is human nature to have your own opinion. How we portray that opinion is a direct line to a person’s character. Now don’t get us wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a healthy debate. But, at the end of the day, you will have to accept the fact not everyone is the same.

The final challenge is to stand against incivility when you see it. As members of the school’s Friends of Rachel club, this is our motto.

Whether or not you, personally, have experienced bullying, it is a part of everyday life no matter how old you are. When walking through our halls, we occasionally see bullying but we have also seen students stand up to the bully. Due to anti-bullying speakers and clubs, our school has seen improvement but we still have some ways to go in this area. Even though standing up to a bully is very difficult to do, we feel it is a skill all students and adults in the community need to strengthen.

The Year of Peace and the Civility Pledge is a great way to make people aware of the problems in our community and ways to promote civility. This will help make Concordia and Cloud County residents have better relationships and harmony. We hope you will all sign it!

(Copies of the Civility Pledge will be available to sign at Frank Carlson Library, or you can download a copy for yourself at www.csjkansas.org/year-of-peace/)

— Will Strommen is a junior at Concordia High School and is the son of David and Anita Strommen.  Holly Boley is a senior at Concordia High School and is the daughter of Mark and Connie Boley.


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 sisterjean@csjkansas.org.