God called, and they answered 'Yes'
Many gathered at Mary of the Angels Chapel to welcome Sister Philomena, who was accompanied by Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Katie Mitchell.
Sister Philomena Adah and Anna Taylor welcomed to FSPA congregation
Two women, on their personal journeys through religious life, have answered the call to discern membership with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. In joyful response, FSPA has welcomed them both to the community: Sister Philomena Adah as a transfer in November 2022 and Anna Taylor as a candidate in January 2023.
Sister Philomena Adah
“The FSPA values of bridging relationships in the community is a revolution of uncommon goodness that synchronizes with my values of peaceful and joyous living with responsiveness and inclusivity in the community,” says Sister Philomena Elizabeth Ene Adah, who was unanimously accepted by the FSPA Leadership Council to discern transfer to the community.
Sister Philomena began her journey to religious life from Benue State of North Central Nigeria where her parents helped her “to maintain a deep relationship with Christ,” and the “reception of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during my confirmation was the beginningof my enthusiasm to serve the Lord.” A member of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady Apostles since 1991, Sister Philomena shares that “The Franciscan charism and spirituality connected with a Franciscan cross I was given as a gift three decades ago embodied the reality and desire to come home to meet Jesus in perpetual adoration and to serve through social justice. God began a profound journey with me into the unknown. Although I was not sure where it would lead me, I trusted the process.” In New Orleans in 2021, the chaplain of Xavier University of Louisiana, where she studies educational leadership, introduced Sister Philomena to FSPA and she made her first contact with Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration Julia Walsh and Eileen McKenzie.
It was during that period of Sister Philomena’s life that she was experiencing discernment toward a transfer from her community: “a deeper search and a call beyond my comprehension. Some of my ministries were for alleviating and mitigating the sufferings of those around me. For this reason, the charism of FSPA synchronizes with my values — witnesses according to the signs of the times.” Her inspiration also stems “from an inner desire and awareness of some movement towards fulfilling a mission based on the Gospel values of social justice, care for creation and simplicity of lifestyle.”
Then in June of 2022, Sister Philomena traveled to La Crosse, Wisconsin, to attend the FSPA Mission Assembly “A Revolution Through Encuentro: Our Journey Into Oneness,” where she found that “the intermittent space created for unique and inclusive prayer was significant and inspiring to me. There were moments of vulnerability and groups committed to holding the sacred space with deep respect, integrity, love, union and peace. The joyous Gospel values and deep sharing reflected trust.” During her time there, Sister Philomena had an encuentro moment, experiencing “the abundance of beauty and God’s goodness,” and found herself with a yearning to deepen her life of prayer in perpetual adoration.
“FSPA is a congregation that promotes values with the capacity to inspire and empower sisters, which reflects and radiates love, peace and holiness. The sense of family fraternity and the initiative of ecospirituality are great witnesses. I view FSPA as a courageous community that promotes values with the capacity to inspire and empower sisters and collaborate with laity in ministry.”
When asked about her hopes for religious life with FSPA, Sister Philomena shares that “I am a woman of faith and prayer with a desire to have a listening heart and a capacity to appreciate, respect and love each sister as my sister.” She speaks to her experience in chaplaincy: “As a missionary, I participate in Christ’s healing ministry by making the incarnate word dwell amongst people of diverse cultures and religious affiliations, empowering, bringing hope and showing love and empathy to alleviate the pain and suffering of people in various settings around the globe.”
Sister Philomena, now living in La Crosse, is guided by Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Marcia Baumert, FSPA Mission Councilor, and companioned by Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Katie Mitchell. She shares “a beautiful experience” of listening to stories of other sisters who have transferred to the FSPA community. “My connection with these sisters was enlightening.” Their joy, she says, inspired her path to FSPA, and “everyone I talked with affirmed the witnessing spirit of the sisters.
“It is with deep humility that I ask for the sisters’ prayers during this period, and I pray for the grace of final perseverance on this journey to be able to say ‘yes’ to God’s invitation to consecrated life in the FSPA community.”
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA canidate Anna Taylor and Sister Corrina Thomas celebrate during Anna’s welcome ceremony.
“Whether there are 158 members or 12,” shares Anna Taylor, who the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration welcome as a candidate for the congregation, “that common purpose of sharing life in the quest for God remains.”
To begin her pursuit of God and communal commitment to be a loving presence through prayer, witness and service with the members of FSPA, Anna resides in the congregation’s formation community on the motherhouse campus. Her journey to La Crosse began in Berea, Kentucky, where she grew up and graduated from Berea College with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. “Postgraduation, I committed to a year of service and moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota, to participate in the Franciscan Community Volunteers, a former ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls.” Anna’s service site was Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, where she assisted Spanishspeaking individuals applying for health insurance programs through the state.
Anna also joined the Catholic Church, a decision influenced by the transformation and deepening faith she experienced during her time with FCV. “I didn’t know much about the Catholic Church growing up in a heavily Protestant town. But living with sisters from the Little Falls community and attending the local Newman Center during my FCV years, I saw the breadth and depth of the Catholic faith, and I wanted to be a part of it, too.” Anna stayed in Minnesota after her time with FCV ended and was hired by Legal Aid.
But Anna didn’t stray far from Franciscanism. She continued to live with the Little Falls Franciscans on and off over the years. She found herself “happy being with others who valued having God as a priority in their lives and who could communally appreciate the liturgical calendar more deeply than I could on my own.” Within this deepening, Anna also discovered a yearning for religious life.
The discernment process didn’t come easy. “I had been actively discerning religious life since I became Catholic, but was frequently distracted by the workload at my job and other commitments.” Finally, in late fall of 2021, Anna took a leap of faith. “I quit my job and went on an adventure with God.” Over the course of a year, she visited several Benedictine Monasteries, living and volunteering for a few months at each. She also visited FSPA in La Crosse for an extended Come & See, an experience that included an icon retreat, adoration with the sisters and participating in the 2022 FSPA Mission Assembly.
It was then that Anna had an “aha moment.” She recalls Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Julia Walsh, the community’s minister of discerners, “mentioning several times in past conversations that ‘FSPA supports its members in fully becoming who God calls them to be.’” Given the chance to meet many sisters personally, Anna “started to taste what that felt like.
“I felt supported in setting boundaries by so many of the sisters. I didn’t feel like I had to spend energy to protect my energy, but rather I was free to honor my needs by taking some quiet time or having clarifying conversations. When I feel supported by respect and open communication and people who can hold an atmosphere of respectful play, my energy is free to allow me to be me; to be creative, caring and present.”
Now in the candidacy phase of the congregation, Anna is continuing to develop personal spirituality; learning FSPA history, traditions, Franciscan spirituality and values; and working within and experiencing community life. She is excited to embrace the FSPA commitments to Relationships, Gospel Living and Unity in Diversity. “My years living with the witness of religious sisters of other communities and working with undocumented individuals at Legal Aid has taught me to value these FSPA priorities. When we remember how freely Christ embraced minority to be with us, both as a baby and in plain ordinary bread in the Eucharist, we really don’t have an excuse to dismiss those on the margins. And it can be overwhelmingly hard work, but with community to support each other, I believe it is possible.
“With FSPA I feel a firm, communal foundation and have found many life-giving people that will allow me to be life-giving to others.”