Franciscan values guide 14 new FSPA affiliates

In 2021 the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration welcomed 14 new spiritual collaborators to the community. They have committed to living out the provocative movements of Relationships, Gospel Living and Unity in Diversity proclaimed through A Revolution of Goodness. And with Franciscan values guiding their ministries, they are transforming our world.

On April 23 and 24, eight new affiliates joined FSPA’s Affiliation Spring Gathering. Though the event was virtual, the celebration was joy-filled and spirit led. Those who made their commitments include Laura Ankeny, Melissa Bakkestuen, Angela Scaperland Bujan, Mary Mell, Catherine Quehl-Engel, Patricia Rodriguez, Victoria Trailer and Missy Wells.

The FSPA Affiliation Spring Gathering was celebrated via Zoom with several affiliates and sisters joining to welcome those making their commitments.

Many of them share reflections of their affiliation.


woman-coffee-glasses-black-shirtLaura Ankeny

“The value of simple living is my core,” shares Laura, a resident of St. Paul, Minnesota. Laura is a registered nurse working at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis as a Blood and Marrow Transplant in the Blood and Marrow Transplant Unit. “I feel my profession is my ministry,” shares Laura. “I am humbled every day by the courage and vulnerability of my patients.” As Laura commits most of her time to her professional ministry of health care, she enjoys “jumping in on volunteer opportunities when I am called to do so.” Her primary place of prayer is the wide world of nature while walking, hiking and skiing: “I praise the Lord for surrounding me with such beauty and grace.” And, as an affiliate, the Franciscan value of living simply “is my core. Simple living and living life with heart, love and joy. Slow down and enjoy the company of others and quiet time alone. Be honestly yourself. Be grateful every day.”

blond-woman-blue-scarf-white-dogMelissa Bakkestuen

“I was inspired by everything Franciscan,” shares Melissa, a wife to her husband John, a mother of four children and a resident of Onalaska, Wisconsin. As a closing specialist for Boston National Title Company, Melissa works remotely at her home where she is “fortunate to look out at God’s country and enjoy nature.” She is a volunteer at Catholic Charities Warming Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, preparing Monday meals for the guests with her neighbors, and serves St. Patrick’s Parish in Onalaska as a high school confirmation teacher and member of the Chaplet of Devine Merch Group. “I love the beauty, the simplicity and the heart to serve others.


smiling-woman-brown-hair-red-white-blouseAngela Scaperland Bujan

“From the moment I became aware of FSPA, I had deep respect and admiration for the sisters and their devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist,” shares Angela, who attended a program at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and felt “immediately drawn to the community.” That pull grew stronger as she moved with her family from Chicago, Illinois, to La Crosse. She was invited to join affiliation once and then a second time by Affiliate Vince Hatt. She was captivated by the Franciscan value of hospitality (“a personal invitation goes a long way”) and decided to join the program.

A “wife, mother, spiritual director, speaker, facilitator/consultant, coach, founder of Help Professional Services LLC and co-founder of Resilience Land LLC,” Angela is a member of Roncalli Newman Parish who volunteers in focus marriage prep, as a life teen small group leader and CCO outreach group facilitator. Through affiliation, “I will continue to grow, learn and respond to our universal call to holiness through continual prayer, living my Christian Catholic faith, walking the journey with my affiliate companion community, living from the inside out my mission and continually discerning my contributions to the community through ministry.”

white-shades-brunette-woman-floral-blouseMary Mell

“My inspiration to become an affiliate was my friendship with Sister Deb Schwab and my experience with retreats at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse,” shares Mary, who was an affiliate for 15 years, left the program when her massage therapy practice overtook most of her time, and then returned now that her “life is slowing down. Glad to be back!”

A resident of Caledonia, Minnesota, and a licensed massage therapist of 23 years, she is a communion minister and contributes to liturgy at her church, St. Patrick’s Parish in Brownsville, Minnesota, as well as a member of the Rotary Club of Caledonia. Through FSPA affiliation, Mary intends to live out her Franciscan values by participating in FSPA community activities and gatherings, participating in her companion group, remaining active in her church, “being open to the voice of the Holy Spirit in my life and work as a massage therapist,” continuing morning prayer and reflection and joining in the virtual prayer offerings streamed every Friday from the FSPA Adoration Chapel at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

blond-woman-dangling-earring-colorful-stoleCatherine Quehl-Engel


 brunette-woman-smiling-yellow-blousePatricia Rodriguez

FSPA’s 2018 Mission Assembly A Revolution of Goodness inspired not only the provocative movements of Relationship, Gospel Living and Unity in Diversity but also Patricia to become an affiliate — a direct impact of the Franciscan values lived out by the community. A retired real estate broker and resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Patricia is a member of the St. Francis of Assisi Parish whose volunteer ministry is serving Al-Anon/Alateen, “a fellowship that helps and supports family and friends of alcoholics to live full, happy lives.” And Patricia is committed to living Franciscan values “as I practice the principles of the program in all my affairs: honestly accepting myself with hope to improve every day as a person of faith, surrendering my life to God’s will, humbly asking God for help in living with more simplicity and peace with all those who surround me or that I encounter on my path and devoting and committing myself to improve my relationship with God through prayer, meditation and contemplation.”

blonde-woman-blue-lanyard-car-selfieVictoria Trailer


portrait-woman-long-reddish-brown-hair-black-v-neck-blouseMissy Wells

“After working at Viterbo University in La Crosse for a few short years, I fell in love with the sisters’ mission and the history of the congregation and wanted to serve people as they do,” shares Missy about her decision to become an FSPA affiliate. Missy served as a prayer partner before deciding to commitment to affiliation.

A resident of La Crescent, Minnesota, and senior office assistant with Gundersen Health System, Missy volunteers for the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse, working behind the reception desk and providing housekeeping services at the Villa St. Joseph hermitages. “Both of my children worked in FSPA dietary services at St. Rose Convent. My daughter Ari still does.” And through affiliation, Missy intends to “be an extension of the sisters in their faith and volunteerism, spreading the words of hope, love and St. Francis.”


FSPA had the opportunity to celebrate six new affiliates in person at Mary of the Angels Chapel at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin on Sept. 24. They included Meg Paulino, Rochelle Nicks, Julianne Klesl, Ginny Loan-DeFrieze, Kim Seward and Priamo Paulino (with Patricia Rodriguez joining them).

FSPA affiliates new in 2021: Meg Paulino, Rochelle Nicks, Julianne Klesl, Ginny Loan-DeFrieze, Kim Seward, Patricia Rodriguez and Priamo Paulino.

We welcome them all and enjoy two reflections.

brunette-woman-blue-green-paisley-curtainsGinny Loan-DeFrieze


woman-yellow-blouse-short-brown-hairJulianne Klesl


woman-blonde-glasses-bracesRochelle Nicks

Rochelle shares that, throughout the process of discerning FSPA affiliation, “I enjoyed the open dialogue about religion and spirituality, both what I find difficult and what I appreciate. I need the wisdom and experience of others in order to enrich my life in these areas and am hopeful that I can provide wisdom and experience to others as well.”  

A resident of La Crosse, Rochelle has two children, Oliver and Edison, with her husband, Aaron. In her profession, she serves as FSPA Director of Mission Advancement. Rochelle volunteers her community in several capacities: as president of the Kiwanis Club of La Crosse and with her family in their parish Sunday school program (Prince of Peace Lutheran). She also delivers mobile meals and volunteers at Emerson Elementary School weekly.

Through affiliation, Rochelle intends to use her connections with sisters and other affiliates “to help better understand who God really wants me to be and how best I can fulfill His plan for me. I want to teach my children to continue to question religion and spirituality as well.” And she is committed to her practice of Psalm 46:10, “my verse for the past several years. ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Speak less, listen more, and for goodness sake, slow down!”

woman-brown-hair-glasses-leaning-on-handMeg Pauino


man-glasses-blue-t-shirtPriamo Paulino


woman-gray-hair-black-gray-shirt-silver-infinity-necklaceKim Seward

Kim, a resident of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is retired from the health care ministry of nursing. Currently she is an associate spiritual director at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center in Hiawatha, Iowa, an InterSpiritual Meditation facilitator and a self-compassion and self-care coach. She shares this reflection.

“Why have I become an affiliate? The easy answer is to feel an association with people with like-minded visions, which doesn’t mean for me to be living in an “echo-chamber” but being with people who can hold space for all of the world’s creatures, allowing them to grow and transform into their ideal self. I also see the Divine in all things of nature and find myself often going back to these roots when grounding is needed.

“How I am committed to living the Franciscan way? This a daily and even moment-by-moment act of remembrance and humility. I choose to see each person/being I meet as a living spirit of God, often looking into their eyes for the reflection of my being for it is only then can our spirits see each other. I desire to connect with others through a smile, a gesture or a kind word. What have we in life if we are not here to serve all beings and nature, feel the compassion for others and transform a little bit more everyday into the likeness of Spirit itself. I commit to be aware of all beings and nature around me, holding open that space of curiosity as well as gratitude, Awe and Wonder.

“And what are my commitments to prayer and ministry? To live fully, to stop doing and just be. As a mindfulness instructor, I recognize the importance of being present and remaining aware of the world around me, for if I desire to recognize each need or beauty or moment of grace present before me, an open awareness is key.

“From the knowledge I learned through the Spiritual Direction Preparation Program at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse came a personal practice of mindfulness and also InterSpiritual meditation: I engage in a daily practice of what I call Mindful Contemplative Prayer. This may take the form of complete silence (including floatation therapy) or may include periods of Lectio Divina (using a bible verse, poem or reading). I may focus on a single word such as Peace or phrase such as Be still and know that I am God. I also engage frequently in the loving-kindness prayer and a practice called Tonglen Meditation (a practice of giving and receiving) as well as some chanting. My practice is always evolving and changing as I feel led.

“I will continue to be led on this journey of life by remaining present with awareness of what comes before me and seek to respond in mercy and love. Living this way does not lead to always knowing what is next but affords much excitement and delight. My personal values of Love and service to others are my guiding light, my North Star, and I will move forward with the intention to have a consistent open awareness and presence in all that I do.

“And I share this from Rumi: ‘Out beyond the ideas of right and wrong there is a field. I will meet you there.’”

Learn more about affiliation here.

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