Monday, September 25, 2023

Loving God and neighbor without distinction: A pontifical institute of women religious of the Roman Catholic Church


The power of prayer!

From left: Sisters Mary Savoie, Faye Huelsmann, Pat Lewter, Janis Wagner, Margaret Nacke, Regina Ann Brummel, Mary Fran Simons and Betty Maschka begin a prayer session in song.

Many of the ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia are obvious and easily visible — such as the Neighbor to Neighbor center in downtown Concordia, the Manna House of Prayer retreat center and the Helping Hands ministry, to name just a few.

But there are other ministries, though harder to see, that are just as active and important.

It doesn’t matter what time of day it is. You can almost always find Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia in the Sacred Heart Chapel or in the small chapel on the second floor of the Nazareth Motherhouse.

They are the sisters retired from active ministry who now live at the Motherhouse in Concordia, and their ministry now is prayer.

The Community initiated a prayer apostolate in 1977. The sisters always extend an invitation to all those needing prayer to send requests to us for remembrance in prayer.

The prayer board is set up not far from the Sacred Heart Chapel, and sisters regularly check intentions posted there.

Through the years, a sister has stepped forward to help manage the board and respond to requests. Sister Donna Otter has been in charge of the prayer board since about 2018, following in the footsteps of Sisters Rose Beatrice Dreiling and Norma Schlick.

Prayer requests arrive in a variety of ways. Some people mail them in to the Development Office. Some opt to send a Facebook Messenger request. Some contact a sister they know and ask them to post their request. However the easiest way to quickly get a request on the prayer board is to email Sister Donna Otter at

In addition to the prayer board, which is in use year round, the Development Office sends out paper Christmas tree ornaments during the Christmas season to everyone on our mailing list. Everyone is encouraged to write their prayer requests on an ornament and mail it back to the Development Office.

“When the ornaments come back, they are recorded in our office as well as in the prayer request book,” said Assistant Development Director Ambria Gilliland. “The book is placed next to the ornament tree outside the chapel so that the sisters have the opportunity to pray over them as they walk by.”

And the prayer ornaments aren’t just discarded after the tree comes down for the year.

“After Christmas, I gather up all the ornaments and send approximately five or six ornaments to each sister, associate and candidate outside of the Motherhouse,” Gilliland said. “I include a letter asking them to keep each of the people in their prayers throughout the year and if they are inclined, to send a letter to them once in a while. The rest of the ornaments are placed in a bowl and set out in the dining room for the Motherhouse sisters to take and continue to hold in prayer.”

Gilliland reviewed the number of Christmas ornament prayer requests for the past eight years and found that the sisters regularly get from 400 to well over 500 requests each holiday season.

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