Celebrating 175 Years of Prayer, Witness and Service

graphic with 175 years featured on top of 8-point cross and rose

The FSPA story begins in Ettenbeuren, Bavaria (part of modern-day Germany) in the late 1840s. With German society in disturbance, a pastor, his associate, and 12 lay Tertiaries, five men and seven women, decided to travel to America to provide Christian education to immigrants. Six of the women desired to start a religious community.  That's our beginning, officially received into the Diocese of Milwaukee on May 28, 1849, 175 years ago.  

Celebrate with us throughout 2024! 

art drawing of lake front with mountains in background

Visual Art Experience
Online throughout 2024

Art. Beauty. Joy. Many women with a natural ability for the arts joined the FSPA community and offered their talents to the students and others they encountered in schools and parishes. Throughout 2024, we'll release their stories and an online art gallery. The artwork featured here is by Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Karen Kappell. We currently celebrate the art, beauty and joy of Sister Karen's story and gallery.

To receive the stories right to your inbox, subscribe to Perspectives Update, our monthly e-newsletter (scroll to the bottom of this page to find the newsletter sign-up option).

mary of the angels chapel interior

Chapel Tours: Fridays and Saturdays through December
Mary of the Angels Chapel, La Crosse, Wisconsin
April 5 - Dec. 28, 2024
Fridays: 9-10:30 a.m. and 1-2:45 p.m.
Saturdays: 9-10:45 a.m. and 1-2:45 p.m.
*Tours are not offered on federal holidays; we recommend visiting our tours page as tours pause as needed throughout the year. 

Mary of the Angels Chapel was named after a tiny church built in early times in the marshlands below the town of Assisi, Italy. Learn more about FSPA during a chapel tour! Mary of the Angels Chapel tours are offered April through December on Fridays and Saturdays. We ask that groups of eight or more contact us for an appointment, ckirsch@fspa.org.

Enjoy a virtual chapel tour.

six male construction workers pose while building mary of the angels chapel in the early 1900s

La Crosse County Historical Society Exhibition
The Hackner Touch: A Legacy of Sacred Craftsmanship
506 Main St., La Crosse, Wisconsin
May 23 - Summer 2024

The Romanesque architecture of FSPA's Mary of the Angels Chapel and the Perpetual Adoration Chapel was developed by architect Eugene R. Liebert.  Adolph Liebig decorated, Bernhardt Hillig, Sr., painted and Egid Hackner designed statues, built altars and carved wood. The La Crosse County Historical Society will feature the works of Egid Hackner, father of Sister Marietta Hackner whose works will also be featured, in an exhibition planned to open in May. Watch for more details. 

Read "Exploring The E. Hackner Altar Company Legacy in La Crosse and Beyond," as published in the March 2024 edition of the La Crosse County Historical Society's "Past, Present & Future" newsletter. 

La Crosse County Historical Society website

Photo features Hackner Altar Company workers while construction of Mary of the Angels Chapel was underway, early 1900s.


the logo for the Answer Eucharistic Rally event

the Answer Eucharistic Rally
June 7, 2024, La Crosse Center (in person)
Click or tap here to join online live adoration with FSPA 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.

June 8, 2024, St. Rose Convent
June 8 is a private event with opportunities for all to join online:
Click or tap here to join adoration from 8 - 9:45 a.m.  
Click or tap here to join Mass at 10 a.m.

FSPA is a proud sponsor of the Answer Eucharistic Rally as it travels through La Crosse on June 7, 2024. Hosted by the Diocese of La Crosse, the Rally offers everyone the opportunity to connect more deeply with Jesus, who is the Answer, through Mass, adoration, national speakers, powerful music and more. On June 8, pilgrims will join FSPA for adoration and mass. The public will be invited to join online. More details to come.

Register for the Answer Eucharistic Rally, public event on June 7.

organ in mary of the angels chapel

Organ Concert
June 30, 2024
2-3 p.m. Central
Mary of the Angels Chapel, La Crosse, Wisconsin

Dennis Siebenalar, a former student of Sister Rosemary Desmond and Sister Mary Ann Gschwind, will perform an organ concert. This is free and open to all.

franciscan sisters of perpetual adoration in religious habits kneel before the blessed sacrament during perpetual adoration

Honoring Perpetual Adoration
Celebrating 146 years of Perpetual Adoration
Aug. 1, 2024
11 a.m. Mass, Mary of the Angels Chapel
Join us online (details and link to come)

Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration has been a cherished practice of FSPA since August 1, 1878—hence our name: Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Through February 25, 2020, at least two people prayed before the Blessed Sacrament every hour of the day and night in our Adoration Chapel. Today, we continue this prayer daily. It is a way of maintaining awareness of God's presence in our lives and praying for the community, the city of La Crosse, Wisconsin, the church and the world. This featured photo is of early adorers, circa 1906.

painting depicting st francis of assisi receiving the wounds of christ

The Gift of the Stigmata Mass
Honoring the 800th anniversary of St. Francis' gift of the Stigmata

September 17, 2024
Mass (details to come)

The Franciscan centenary is a journey ensuring that the entire Franciscan Family throughout the world celebrates together the 800th anniversary of Saint Francis' Easter and the culminating events of the last years of his life. Said Centenary has been divided into four Centenaries, respectively spread over four years where it will be possible to reflect and contemplate the Rule and Christmas in Greccio (1223-2023), the gift of the Stigmata (1224-2024), the Canticle of the Creatures (1225- 2025), the Easter of Francis of Assisi (1226-2026).

Learn more about the Centenary.

franciscan sisters dressed in white robes raise a bowl of bread for transitus

Transitus of St. Francis and St. Francis Day
Oct. 3-4, 2024
Vigil and Mass (details to come)

It is an FSPA sacred tradition to honor the passing of St. Francis of Assisi (Transitus) and his feast day. Join us for this vigil (online) and Mass (in person or online). Details to come.

chapel decorated with christmas trees and a display of clocks and calendars

Blessing of Time
Dec. 31, 2024
6 p.m.
Mary of the Angels Chapel or online

As we close out our year of celebrating 175 Years of Prayer, Witness and Service, join us for a New Year's Eve Blessing of Time in Mary of the Angels Chapel.

One part of our celebratory graphic incorporates the design of the medal worn by all Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration upon profession of first vows. The medal is an eight-point Maltese cross, with each point representing the eight Beatitudes. 

An additional element incorporated into the celebratory graphic is the rose from the FSPA logo which represents moments of invitation, intimacy, gratitude, reconciliation, partnership – those “aha” moments along the way. The spiraling action in the rose represents the FSPA mission taken into our deepest selves and in turn, given forth freely as a gift.

Revisit our 2024 celebratory events

lit candle known by the franciscan sisters of perpetual adoration as a lard light

The Promise: retelling our lard light story
March 18, 2024
Vigil of St. Joseph

Making the lard light during the Vigil of St. Joseph and during a variety of ceremonies is an FSPA sacred tradition since 1865.

Read the lard light story.

portrait of Sister Thea Bowman

Thea Bowman Documentary Screening
April 4, 2024
Rivoli Theatre, 117 4th St. N., La Crosse, Wisconsin

Join us to watch "Going Home Like a Shooting Star, Thea Bowman's Journey to Sainthood," the documentary that is sure to leave you inspired by Sister Thea's story.  

7:30 p.m. Q&A | Join Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Laura Nettles and Marlene De La Cruz-Guzman, co-directors of the Viterbo University Sister Thea Bowman Center, for this Q&A opportunity. 

8 - 9 p.m. Documentary Viewing 

Thea Bowman became a vocal advocate for cultural awareness and inclusion within the Church. She emphasized the richness of diversity, asserting that it enhances the Church's vitality. Her charismatic presence and infectious joy, often referred to as "Gospel joy," left a profound impact on those she encountered.

Today, as FSPA works to become an Anti-Racist organization and we engage in Truth and Healing,  our study our history of administrating a Native American boarding school in Odanah, Wisconsin, we often turn to Thea's teachings.

portrait photo of sister mary ann gschwind

Monday Mornings at Main, La Crosse Public Library
Indigenous Peoples Spotlight Collection of Turtle Island
April 8, 2024
10-11 a.m.
FSPA: 175 Years of Prayer, Witness and Service
Presenter: Sister Mary Ann Gschwind

As part of the library's lifelong learning program series, Sister Mary Ann Gschwind will share FSPA's history.  We'll make time to visit the Indigenous Peoples Spotlight Collection of Turtle Island (2nd Floor of Library).  This collection features books for all ages by Indigenous authors and offers information regarding the Indian boarding school era, which is part of FSPA's history as administers of St. Mary's Indian Boarding School, Odanah, Wiscosnin (1883-1969).

This is an in person event. The La Crosse Public Library is located at 800 Main St., La Crosse. Monday Mornings at Main is in the Main Library, Main Hall. Registration is not required.  These lifelong learning programs are designed for ages 50 and better!

the bad river flowing through the trees in northern wisconsin

Bad River Film Screening
April 29, 2024
5 p.m.
Rivoli Theatre, 117 4th St N, La Crosse, WI

Join us at the movies! This powerful documentary chronicles the Wisconsin-based Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and its ongoing fight to save Lake Superior. 

Event Cosponsors:
Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless Co-op, Coulee Region Sierra Club, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, La Crosse Public Library, La Crosse Youth & Learning Center, UW-L ALANA (Asian, Latinx, African, Native American) Women, UW-L Students for Sustainability, Viterbo University Student Sustainability Club


black and white sketch of the convent built in milwaukee wisconsin includes grounds and nuns

Founding Pilgrimage
April 2024
Private Event

FSPA's American story starts on Lake Michigan near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sharing a common founding with the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, we'll join them for a pilgrimage to the early sites including St. Coletta, which opened as a school in 1904.

Image featured here is a sketch of an early convent in Milwaukee, built by the seminary in 1861.

175 years written over an 8-pt cross and rose

Celebrating 175 Years of Prayer, Witness and Service
May 28, 2024
Private Event, recording available 

We celebrated our 175th anniversary in the presence of our sisters, prayer partners and partners in mission on staff. We gathered for Mass and offer an afternoon of special events. Watch our celebration below. 


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