FSPA welcomes Sister Philomena
“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, pictured above with Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Katie Mitchell. With unanimous acceptance of the FSPA Leadership Council, Sister Philomena is now discerning transfer to the community.
Sister Philomena began her journey to religious life from Benue State of North Central Nigeria where her parents “helped me to maintain a deep relationship with Christ,” and the “reception of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during my confirmation was the beginning of 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.
Sisters Sue Ernster, Philomena Adah, Eileen McKenzie and Sarah Hennessey
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 Catherine Kaiser, right, greets Sister Philomena
Sister Philomena, now living in La Crosse, Wisconsin, is guided by FSPA Mission Councilor Sister Karen Kappell and companioned by Sister 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.”