The novitiate is in Kansas so like the Wizard of Oz Srs. Janet Lander novitiate community Jean and Mary Alice St Louis Novice camp out in the hallwayNo question about it, this semester has flown by and the novices are preparing to leave Concordia for their one month Christmas break.  As I reflect on the last four months, I am amazed at the areas we have covered and how well these women have entered into the experience with attention and with enthusiasm.

As we have planned this year we have made an effort to have this first semester be about a time to learn more about oneself, one’s relationship with God and the Church, social justice and religious life in general.  We have kept up a steady study of the Hebrew Scriptures, a systematic study of “12-step” and its application to one’s everyday life, Family Systems and most recently a thorough study of the Vatican II documents.  What a rich experience it has been!

In between these intense studies, we have been learning and practicing the special elements of CSJ life including State of the Heart and Order of the House.  They have enjoyed monthly weekend retreats at the Motherhouse giving them time to integrate what has been happening in their communal and personal lives. They have joined the Manna Community for daily contemplative evening prayer. 

Kristine Toronto Canada and Mary Alice decorate for ChristmasEach of the novices take turns helping prepare the noon meal.  Their creative participation makes the “presentation” a delight each day.  They are always willing to assist in the kitchen and other areas.  We especially appreciated their assistance with technological skills!  They have participated in various innovative “ministry days”….helping with a Quinsanera celebration at the local church, giving a vocation presentation for a group of 6th graders, helping out with the Concordia community  Thanksgiving dinner at the local Armory, helping with the Christmas store at the Resource Center and many other activities.

One of the highlights of our time together was the trip to Oklahoma City for the beatification of Blessed Stanley Rother. This was an opportunity we all agreed was a “once in a lifetime” event and we have talked about it many times!

Sr. Jean McKinney Boston novice learns to make lace as our first sisters did with Sr. Mary Jo Thummel“What does it mean to be a Sister of St. Joseph?” more specifically is the task of the second semester.  This will assist them in their discernment:  do I belong? Am I really called to be a Sister of St. Joseph?  To come to that each of the novices will be discerning and praying once more about what it is that drew them to the congregation.  We will be studying the history of the early community in Le Puy and Lyon, in St. Louis and the spread of the congregation throughout the country and the world.   As you look over the schedule of top notch presenters for the second semester, you will know that these women will have come to know who they are as a Sister of St. Joseph.

Living community life is a big part of life in the Novitiate.  We are a diverse community here at Manna….seven Concordia Sisters and 5 international students.  It makes for interesting and varied conversation at meal time!  The novices have integrated well with one another and with the community, both here at Manna and at the Motherhouse.  We will miss them while they are gone!

   We are happy to have Miriam Ukeritis with us as we close this first semester and miss Patty Johnson.  The novices have prepared a presentation for all of us and we will have a fine closing event. 


Until next semester!

Betty Suther,CSJ, novice director

Mary Jo Thummel,CSJ,  assistant director

Ann Ashwood,CSJ,  coordinator