Modern Ministry: Meet Sister Rose
The "wholeness" of spirituality: Perspective Update shares a conversation with Sister Rose Elsbernd about this calling as she's lived it in her 56 years of vowed religious life and its perpetual presence within the community that she serves.
Sister Rose Elsbernd
How have you ministered as Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration?
Prior to my current role at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, I served as an FSPA mission councilor, as director of Villa Maria Retreat and Conference Center in Frontenac, Minnesota, as FSPA novice director, as director of Sacred Heart House of Prayer in Rock Island, Illinois, as FSPA vocation director, as a counselor in Des Moines, Iowa, in campus and parish ministry in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and as an elementary school teacher.
Even if you include my campus ministry, as I served the Diocese of Tulsa in marriage preparation, you could say I’ve ministered in spirituality in some form or another for many, many years.
Tell us more about the gift of spirituality you’ve shared with those you’ve served?
If you look at the mission of spirituality as the search for meaning, the search for purpose and that search for “Who am I?” it was present throughout my ministries; to those taking the next steps of life into college and to the women discerning religious community. It was with me as I served as director of Villa Maria and Sacred Heart, welcoming individuals and groups and really listening for the core questions of their lives. In some ways, my FSPA leadership role provided that same sense of direction, that sense of seeking and searching for what is best -- be it for the community or an individual. It has encompassed the whole sense of discerning “where is God in the midst of all this?”.
Now at FSC, my responsibilities are primarily spiritual direction. I’m part of core group of people that educates others in a spiritual direction training program. We serve a variety of people that come in varying stages of life, but that same question is always there. We do lots of listening and invite others to find the answers within their own experiences and belief systems. And in all we do here at FSC is the ministry of hospitality.
Sister Rose provides spiritual direction at the Franciscan Spirituality Center, La Crosse, Wisconsin. Image courtesy of FSC.
I think that people are seeking to know where they fit into community. Many don’t have a specific religious affiliation, but they are seeking answers to those same spiritual questions. In living into the future, perhaps, there is a greater need for calling people to their real spiritual selves. As technology takes away more relationships, as life seems to get more complex and busy, that invitation to quiet, to contemplation or to prayer -- may it be in a one-to-one relationship in spiritual direction or group spiritual direction or even retreat center programs -- is essential. Helping people begin or continue the journey into reflection and contemplation and finding meaning is more important than ever.
How does your ministry of spirituality reflect the call to both modern lives and sacred traditions?
When I think of the center's mission, “Dedicated to anyone seeking God, meaning and wholeness,” that’s what FSPA is about. In the past, we did it as teachers, but we’ve always been people of prayer.
Our spirituality centers are providing that ministry of hospitality, that welcoming of all people. There is a pervading sense that religious affiliation isn’t important. It’s become more about how all life is enriched through the goodness of God and then guiding people in living this way.
Waking up to this mission, sometimes, is the major task of today.
Video: Tune in to the Show me a sign video series to meet more sisters living modern lives and sacred traditions.