Sister Maris to discerners: 'Be aware of what feels right.'

By Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA on Thursday, November 14th 2019


"I have always enjoyed my ministries, then and now."


Sister Maris Kerwin

With laughter in her voice, Sister Maris Kerwin shares stories of her journey to the convent — a surprising life twist for her and her family. She tells of graduating from nursing school in Carol, Iowa, and stepping onto a path similar to those taken by many of her classmates who lived and worked there. But a trip to St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin, turned those plans upside down, and an adventure of 60 years as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration began for Sister Maris. Now she is one of the sisters who meets discerners as they make their own first visits to St. Rose, leading them on tours of our heritage department and inviting them to discover new paths of their own. Among the artifacts are the stories of the many FSPA who answered their own call to religious life, just as she did 60 years ago.

Show me a sign:
How did you know that you wanted to be a religious sister?

Sister Maris:
I think it probably came to me when I visited St. Rose and met several FSPA. I had not been exposed to many other religious communities. I did, however, experience retreats during high school and nursing school that introduced me to religious life.

Show me a sign:
How did your family and friends react when you first told them of your desire to become a sister?  

Sister Maris:
They were as surprised as I was! It was a choice that was difficult for my dad to accept.

Show me a sign:
As you reflect on your jubilee, what facets of serving as an FSPA first come to mind?


In April, Sister Maris celebrated her 60th jubilee at St. Rose Convent.  

Sister Maris:
I have many memories of my nursing career as it broadened, also of being elected FSPA vice president and serving the congregation for 10 years.

Show me a sign:
Which of your ministries have meant the most to you?  

Sister Maris:
Nursing has always been important and many happy memories are connected with it, but I think I have always enjoyed my ministries, then and now. I am a volunteer in our community heritage department, and it’s great.

Show me a sign:
What advice do you have for a woman discerning religious life today?  

Sister Maris:
Be aware of what feels right, and don’t be afraid to follow your instincts!

Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link,, and join the conversation.

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