Remember, Honor, Celebrate Veterans with Gratitude

As I approached an elevator this weekend, I encountered a man wearing U.S. Army dress blues (adorned with medals, badges, patches, stripes and a silver oak leaf insignia).

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

He greeted me with “Good Morning. How are you today?”

I responded “I am well, thank you. How are you?

He replied that he, too, was well.

As we got on the elevator, I commented (in question form) “You must be on your way to a Veteran’s Day service or celebration?”

He replied that he had traveled to Ohio from Norfolk (VA) to be part of an appreciation breakfast hosted by an alumni chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

We shared small talk about Norfolk; and as we got off the elevator, we exchanged well wishes for the day. I added “Thank you for serving!”

He responded, with a smile, “Thank you for your support!”

That interchange got me thinking about what it means to support our military veterans and active servicemen and servicewomen. I started considering a number of ways to show support – donating to causes that help veterans and troops; volunteering to give veterans a ride to medical appointments; visiting VA hospitals and facilities that serve our wounded soldiers; sponsoring a companion dog for veterans with PTSD; sending care packages and letters; helping homeless veterans; volunteering with organizations that serve our military personnel and their families; listening to their stories and sharing them; advocating for the fulfillment of our nation’s promises to our veterans, etc.

The list of ways to help is not limited to those listed above. But perhaps the easiest way to support our veterans and active military personnel is with a “Thank You” that is heartfelt and sincere. That simple act of gratitude is something that we all can extend to show appreciation for everything they have faced and sacrificed. It is something that can brighten the day of a veteran or military person.

I trust that the smile on Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Hall’s face as he said “Thank you for your support!” was an indication that my “thank you” had brightened his day.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Many Hands Make 2018 Great Bend Bazaar a Success

Thanks to Sister Rene Weeks for her photos that brought this article to life!

Preparations for this year’s bazaar really began months ago, but immediate preparations started on Monday, November 5. Thanks to the arrival of Sisters from Ohio, Kentucky, Colorado, Texas, Missouri, and other parts of Kansas, as well as Associates, relatives, and friends of the Congregation from near and far, all went smoothly. Equally as important as the work is the time for visiting with old friends and meeting new ones, praying together, enjoying meals and even a card game or two. We didn’t even mind the heavy snow on Thursday, which kept most of us inside the house, looking at the beauty outside.

An early snow greeted Sisters who traveled to assist with preparations for the Great Bend Mission Bazaar.

The auditorium was arranged in the early part of the week. On Thursday, bazaar preparations went into even higher gear with more people arriving to help. Fruit fillings for the kolaches were cooked, the chicken was diced for the chicken noodle soup, and carrots and celery sliced into relish sticks.

On Friday one crew dealt with all the sweetbreads and muffins that had been baked and frozen over the past months, sorting and pricing them for sale. Other crews staffed the bakery, first making kolaches and later in the day cinnamon rolls. Wonderful aromas wafted around the house! Meanwhile, pies were being baked at other locations in town. Friday afternoon the first shoppers (Sisters, Associates, and employees) visited the bazaar and made their purchases. To view more photos of the preparations, please click here.

Sisters price breaks and other baked goods.

Saturday morning dawned clear and cold. As always, the first shoppers (about 50 of them) lined up in the hallway well before seven in the morning while workers gathered in the auditorium for a brief prayer led by Sistar Eloise. Then the doors opened, and shopping began. The routine is well-established for most of those who come regularly — first off to the jellies and the homemade noodles, then to check out the crafts, and finally to the checkout booth. (We’re always grateful for the youth from the Olmitz parish, who provide carryout services for those with heavily laden boxes.) After purchases have been made in the auditorium, it’s time to buy tickets for the basket raffle, look over the silent auction items, and enjoy either breakfast and/or lunch in the dining room. For photos of the Bazaar, click here.

Shoppers enjoy handcrafted gifts at the Great Bend Bazaar.

The dining room was filled with people when the time arrived for the drawings, first for the thirteen theme baskets, then for the main raffle and finally for the special raffle. With the final winner announced, the bazaar officially ended. All that remained was the cleanup! Many hands made light work of that, too.

One Sister who was here for the first time, when asked for her impressions after the week’s work, said, “I was most struck by the tremendous sense of community among everyone.” With that sense of community late Saturday afternoon we gathered to celebrate Eucharist with our Dominican brother Ed Ruane as we gave thanks for another successful bazaar.  

Initial figures show a revenue increase of about 5%. Expenses still need to be subtracted, and we hope for more sales and donations. The final total for the 2018 bazaar will be available on December 31, 2018. Thanks to everyone for the wonderful support not only on bazaar day itself but throughout the year.


Sapphire/Diamond Earrings/Pendant – Ofelia Lopez, GardenCity, KS
Hand Stitched Large Quilt – NitaTrautham, Leeds, AL
Quarter Beef – BrendaFish, Wichita, KS
Quarter Beef – Shirley Rueb, Wichita, KS|
Quarter Beef – Ada Leiker, GreatBend,KS
Quarter Beef – Albert/ReneHeier, Springfield, VA                 
Hand Turned Wooden Bowl – Marilyn Small, Cimarron, KS
Hand Sculpted Santa –  Diane Simons, Kingman, KS
$150 Cash  – Darrell Dome, Abilene, KS
$150 Cash  – Judy Ochs, Great Bend, KS
Child’s Rocker – Teresa Boatright, Dodge City, KS
$100 Gift Card Northview Nursery  – Sr. Maria Ciriello, Akron, OH
$100 Gift Card Kwik Shop – Michael Oborny, Rush Center, KS
$100 Gift Card Stutzman Greenhouse  – Art Medina, Garden City, KS
$75 Cash – John Lang, Port Jeff Station, NY
$75 Cash – Cindy Voegeli, Mt. Hope, KS
$50 Cash – Anita Patterson Kiowa, KS
$50 Cash – Chris Christenon, Greensburg, KS
$50 Cash – Theresa Hatcher, Bennettsville, SC
$50 Gift Card Walmart – Margie Leis, OverlandPark, KS
$50 Gift Card Walmart – JoAnn Juneau, Garden City, KS

$175 Cash has been donated to the Bazaar
Quarter Beef has been donated to the Great Bend Motherhouse

Posted in News

Can you hear God in the music?

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi

Most of us like to listen to music, right? There are several motivations why we choose to listen to music: it can provide a good pace/rhythm for exercising, it can soothe the soul, it can help us be more creative, it can even affect an unborn baby as well, and the list could go on.

Listening to music helps me deepen my relationship with God. A few years ago, when I got very frustrated, I would get in my car, and blast the song, “Lord, I need you” by Matt Maher, until my frustration dissipated and his words became my words as well.

Other times, I heard God in the “still small voice”, like Jenna Woods sings in “Still small voice”, or in “The Wind” by Cat Stevens when he sings: “where I’ll end up, well, I think only God really knows.” Singing songs from Taizé does the same for me.

I recently heard: “Set a fire” by Will Reagan. The song says it all: “so set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain and I can’t control. I want more of you God.” To be able to preach in a way that sets the world on fire with God’s love, like St. Catherine of Siena said, starts with recognizing the fire of God’s love in us, and then, we can spread it.

Music can help us tune our ears and hearts to God. It can move us into a direction that helps us discover God’s desire with us. I asked a few sisters, “What song would you choose to describe religious life?” Here are a few responses:

  • Heal the World” by Michael Jackson, because it is about making the world a better place, and as vowed religious, we also are missioned to do so.
  • Be God’s…” by Danielle Rose, because it inspires us to bring God’s love to others.
  • Where You Lead” by Carole King, because God is calling us to follow God wherever God leads us, knowing that God will always be with us along the way.
  • Thankful” sung by Josh Groban, because religious life provides so many people and opportunities to be grateful for, especially those who call, encourage, and support me to be the person God wants me to be. 
  • The Same Love” by Paul Baloche, because the same Love, which set captives free and opened the eyes of the blind to see, called me by name and keeps calling.
  •  “Go Make a Difference” by Steve Angrisano and Tom Tomaszek, because it really speaks to what we do and what religious life is about.
  • We Are Family” by Sister Sledge, because we are family in the Dominican Order, and it’s a song that speaks of unity.
  • Every Praise” by Hezekiah Walker, because it has a lot of energy and it helps to motivate us.
  • All My Days” by Dan Schutte, because it is our deepest desire to praise God.

Do you hear God’s voice in any of these songs?

What songs do you like to listen to that help you tune your heart to God?

Posted in God Calling?, News

The Golden Rule

Blog by Sr. Pat Connick, OP

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

                                            –“The New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus

When I was in public high school, we learned about the waves of immigration that took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries here in America.  We learned about ports of entry, in particular, Ellis Island in New York City, not far from the Statue of Liberty, that “mighty woman with a torch.”  I found out through conversation with my parents that, indeed, my father’s parents had come through that very port in 1893 from Ireland. (My mother’s parents had already come from Germany in the 1840’s.)   We also were encouraged to memorize the second half of this poem by Emma Lazarus, which was written to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty.  

We need to screen properly, and with dignity, the people who seek to come to our country. 

We do not need to fear them simply for coming, for being displaced from their original countries by circumstances none of us would want to life through!

We need to think about what to do once they come to us. How can we prepare a welcome?

We do not need to call them an “invasion” or immediate cast suspicion upon their motivations without hearing what they have to say.

The myth is that we do not have enough to go around.

The truth is that together we will always have an abundance because of our synergy.

That where historically our strength as a nation has come forth…

I’m asking is that perhaps we all could try to follow more closely the “Golden Rule”, found in some closely related version in every religion:  “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” I find myself asking, “How would I want to be treated, if God forbid, I found myself in circumstances like…?”  

Indeed, my case, I need to do what has already been done for my family over 100 years ago:  I want “to lift a lamp beside the golden door” for those now 100 years later are experiencing the same thing that my ancestors already did. 

Can we not find a civilized way to discuss this issue for the sake of our brothers and sisters who still are fleeing oppression?  Will we not find that by opening our country to those who wish to live safe and productive lives, we will find new creative energy as a nation, just as we have in the past?

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Freedom from Fear

In  light of what’s been happening on the border, I wanted to share an article from the Southwest Kansas Catholic written by the editor, Dave Myers.  It may be hard for some of us to imagine this happening but this is why so many good people will walk thousands of miles for peace and safety.

Honduran family journeys to Kansas seeking
Freedom from Fear

By David Myer 
Southwest Kansas Register
Editor’s Note: Ana’s name has been changed for this story.

For 10 minutes, Ana felt the cold steel of a gun held to her head.

For 10 minutes, the mother of three children knew she would die at any moment, and when that moment never came, it was nothing short of a milagro (miracle).

When the Register spoke with the diminutive woman from Honduras, she was only six days in the United States and living with family members. The relief she felt was palpable. She and her two sons were safe, and she soon would be reunited with her husband and seven-year-old daughter, from whom they separated before crossing the border. She was at peace. Finally. And she no longer had to face the inevitability of her two sons being forcefully indoctrinated into a gang or cartel.

Having a gun pressed to her head was not the first time Ana felt heart-crushing fear, and it wouldn’t be the last. But it was the moment when the family finally decided it was time to leave.

With the help of Sister Janice Thome, OP, who acted as interpreter, Ana described the day she encountered the gunman. She was at work in a restaurant when a gang of thugs flew through the front doors.

“They wanted to kill a [wealthy man], but he was surrounded by body guards,” Ana explained. “They killed a lot of people. They wanted money, but it was 9 a.m. when we opened, and there was no money yet.”

Because Ana was a witness to the shootings, she surely would be killed, too.

“I ran to the back, but a man caught me and put a gun to my head. For 10 minutes he didn’t say anything. I don’t know why he didn’t kill me. When this kind of thing happens in my country, they shoot you for sure. It was a miracle.”

Why didn’t she go to the police?

“The police and the gangs are linked. I would be dead.”

If it was just about her safety – going to work and getting home without being victimized – they might have stayed. But then there were the children. Ana explained that when children enter, say, the ninth or tenth grades, they are approached by cartel members wanting to “train them to be drug mules or to kidnap people for money. If they don’t want to be a part of it, they are told that their whole family will be killed.

“I didn’t want my sons to grow up and be bad men. I wanted to come here and be safe, where they could grow up to be good men.”

She found the help of a kind “coyote.” (Coyotes are those who help others cross the border, and are notoriously less interested in their “customers’” welfare than they are in money. To find a kind coyote who charged the “very cheap” price of $9,500 for the entire family, was another “milagro.”) Ana, her husband, three children and two other family members boarded a bus and began the long trek across Guatemala, along the vast expanse of Mexico, and finally to the border of Texas.

Like so many immigrants flooding into the southern states, once across the border, Ana and her family allowed themselves to be taken by immigration officials, in hopes that they would be granted asylum. She and her husband – she with their two sons and he with their daughter – separated, hoping that each, having children but being without a spouse, would be granted the asylum they desperately sought.

It was a decision that would haunt each parent like a bad nightmare for several days to come.

“They took all my jewelry,” Ana said. “They went through my hair and gave me a total pat-down. They took my fingerprints, took my picture, and wanted to know the address of family members here so we could prove we had some place to go.”

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, because of the overwhelming number of immigrants crossing the border, the conditions of the temporary facilities “are lacking in even the most basic services and conditions.”

For two days, Ana and her two sons slept on a bare, cement floor. It was cold, and they had no blankets. Her oldest son slept sitting up, while the younger son slept with his head on his brother’s leg.

“I didn’t eat or sleep for two days,” Ana said. “I was so scared. I began shaking. They asked why I hadn’t moved to a different place in Honduras. I told them because of the violence. They asked why I didn’t move to Mexico. I said I didn’t have family there. They wanted me to sign a form, but I was so scared. I didn’t speak English and didn’t understand what I was signing. I began to cry.

“One of the [guards/immigration officials] became so angry when I wouldn’t sign that he made a slashing motion across his throat. I was so scared I would be killed.”

Eventually her sister, who resides with Ana’s mother in southwest Kansas, convinced her by phone to sign the paper, and she and her two boys were released.

With no money and no food, the three stood helpless outside the detention center; Ana was crying. With little hope, a kind woman spotted them on the road and offered them her phone, which Ana used to call her sister. The woman took them to McDonalds and told them to order whatever they wanted. Ana was so distraught that she couldn’t eat. Then the woman took them to a Catholic church where Ana offered thanks to God.

A priest brought them to a “place for food and rest” where they slept two nights. “It was wonderful; I helped cook,” she said.

Even better than the food and shelter, is the fact that they offered help in finding her husband and daughter.

Meanwhile, back in Kansas, Ana’s mother and sister obtained the aid of a minister. He enlisted the help of his congregation to raise the gas money so that he personally drive to Texas, pick up Ana’s family, and bring them back to Kansas. It turned out that Ana’s husband and their little girl had been released after only two hours of incarceration, and had been given shelter by her husband’s friend in Dallas.

As the Register spoke to Ana, her husband and daughter were packing their bags to begin the end of their long journey. “They should be here tomorrow,” Ana said with a broad grin. “When we talk on the phone, we want to have each other in our arms so bad that we cry. He’s my support. He’s my shoulder.”

Soon they will have to report to the immigration office in Wichita where they will have the difficult task of proving that “the fear; the absolute fear” of staying in their homeland is real.

If they are unable to do so, the family faces the very real possibility of being deported back to the violence they left behind.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog