FSPA Leadership Team
FSPA leadership is elected through a prayerful process that involves the entire membership of the congregation. Terms of office are four years and members are eligible to serve two terms. Currently serving the congregation are Sister Eileen McKenzie, president, and Sister Sue Ernster, vice president. They are assisted by three mission councilors: Sisters Karen Kappell, Dawn Kutt and Lucy Slinger. Working together to foster FSPA life and mission in the church and around the world, the leadership team considers both the welfare of each sister and the corporate good of the congregation.
Sister Eileen McKenzie
Sister Eileen McKenzie, who has ministered as a nurse, researcher and acupuncturist, is currently serving the FSPA community as president. Her ministries have taken her throughout the U.S. and West Africa, and for the past 15 years she has been centered in the upper Mid-west, serving in St. Paul, Minnesota, and more recently La Crosse, Wisconsin. She founded FSPA Community Acupuncture and was a founding member of Integrative Therapies of La Crosse, a collective of holistic practitioners dedicated to making their services affordable and accessible for people in the region. She has a bachelor’s degree in nursing, a master’s degree in oriental medicine and has completed a predoctoral fellowship in clinical research. Sister Eileen has devoted time and energy for many health, justice and mission service-oriented organizations both locally and internationally, and is particularly interested in the intersection of social justice and healing movements. She is enamored by Franciscan spirituality and an ardent discerner of Pope Francis’ call to create cultures of encounter.
Sister Sue Ernster
Since 2013, FSPA Vice President Sister Sue Ernster has served the community as treasurer at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin. In addition to this role, she represents FSPA as a board member of various local, regional and national organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and, with a Master of Arts in pastoral ministry from St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville, Minnesota, has also served as a campus minister and in parishes as an administrator and faith formation director. During her term as vice president, Sister Sue will continue to minister as treasurer of the congregation.
Sister Karen Kappell
An artist in ministry, Sister Karen Kappell is serving her second four-year term as a FSPA mission councilor. She came to that appointment from Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center, Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin, where she served part time as both resident artist and spiritual director. Her education includes both a bachelor’s degree in English and art from Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and a master’s degree in art from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. After instructing art at Silver Lake, Sister Karen ministered in La Crosse, Wisconsin, first as a campus minister at Viterbo College (now known as Viterbo University) and then as FSPA director of associates. She most recently ministered as a studio artist in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin.
Sister Dawn Kutt
Sister Dawn Kutt, a member of the FSPA leadership team as a mission councilor, has ministered to those in need of health care since 2003. She achieved a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Viterbo University, La Crosse, Wisconsin, and certification in nursing home administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This training initially led her to serve as director at St. Clare Health Mission in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She then went to Villa St. Joseph, the skilled-care nursing home for FSPA in La Crosse, and ministered as a staff nurse, director of nursing, co-coordinator of resident life and, most recently, director of both resident life and nursing. Currently, Sister Dawn participates in the Collaborative Leadership Development Program and is a member of St. Anthony Ministries.
Sister Lucy Slinger
FSPA Leadership Team Mission Councilor Sister Lucy Slinger has served the ministry of ecology since 2007, when she became the community’s ecological advocate. Since then, Sister Lucy has also coordinated the organic garden and the net-zero water and energy Jacoba’s Greenhouse on FSPA farmland at St. Joseph Ridge. For two years, she ministered at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center in Hiawatha, Iowa. With a bachelor’s degree in biology from Viterbo University, La Crosse, Wisconsin, a master’s degree in servant leadership (also from Viterbo), a master’s degree in plant pathology from Michigan State University, Lansing, and a Ph.D. in teacher development and curriculum and instruction (K-12 science with a cognate in environmental science), Sister Lucy has also served the ministry of education as a professor of ecospirituality and sustainability and as the sustainability degree coordinator at Viterbo University.