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Discerning action, new adventure in Lent and religious life

Thursday, April 11th 2019 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


Lent: 'making space for the new adventures God is inviting us to.'


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In every action and adventure movie I’ve seen, the main character finds themselves in a seemingly impossible situation. All protagonists, like Wonder Woman, face choices that will impact life in ways not yet imagined, result in consequences that bring blessings and challenges. Each decision impacts experiences to come.  

Discernment can feel like you’re living in such a film. New challenges arise, cause confusion, overwhelm and sometimes make your next move feel impossible. Potential movement for discerners of religious life can be literal: am I open to exploring a community far from home, away from my family and friends? How does one not get stymied in indecision and find a way to move through the experience?  

There is wisdom offered for all who reflect and pray with the readings from the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Isaiah reminds us of the point of peril that the Israelites faced as they fled Egypt, the charioteers hot on their heels and water looming in front of them. The scene was bleak but God acted, parting the water. The Israelites escaped and the army met their watery grave. Who would have seen that coming … water transformed into dry land just long enough for the escape? When it is least expected, God often provides a new route on the horizon. 

The Gospel from John also carries the theme of life on the brink of disaster. The Pharisees posed a double threat — attempting to trick Jesus into misinterpreting a law and endangering a woman’s life (in death by stoning) in the process. Neither ploy works. Jesus stops the advancement of the Pharisees and the woman is spared. Just when all seems lost, a saving grace arises. 

Sometimes what looks like the end is actually the first step of a new beginning, but it takes commitment to prayer and reflection to discern what is happening. It means asking the hard questions: to where am I being called, led, invited? It may also require adjusting your perception of a situation. There will be times of heartache and pain; when one moment ends to give space for a new time to arise. The Israelites had to leave Egypt, the woman had to choose to move beyond her former choices. The new way forward will bring change and challenges along with new blessings.  

Lent is a season in which we are invited to deepen our commitment to God, to see the parts of our lives that need to change and make space for the new adventures God is inviting us to. Letting go can be a way of letting God in.  

What adventure God is offering for you to consider?

Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link,, and join the conversation. And, stay tuned to Show me a sign for new videos in the FSPA discernment series!

Sister Mary's Six Word Story

Tuesday, August 23rd 2016 10:34 am
Sister Mary Bates




What's your six word discernment story?

Sister Janet to discerners: 'Say yes. You won't be sorry.'

Thursday, November 21st 2019 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


One reaction to her choosing religious life: "Oh, I thought Janet liked to have fun."


Sister Janet Fischer

Sometimes it is a struggle to make a decision about what to do with your life. Sister Janet Fischer, now celebrating her 60th jubilee, shares that it took time to discover that the invitation from God to become a sister would help her to live into the fullness of who she is. Show me a sign recently caught up with Sister Janet who continues to volunteer in her local parish and civic communities and shares inspiration for religious life, then and now.   

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

Sister Janet:
I did not want to be a sister. I finally got tired of God pestering me and said “Yes.” Then I was at peace.

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

Sister Janet:
I never told anyone of my thoughts about entering religious life until I said “Yes” to God. I went to St. Rose Convent shortly after. My mother was reassured and very happy after receiving a letter I wrote to her about becoming a sister. My dad said that the lifestyle was too hard and he didn’t want me to go. My mother shared that someone said to her with surprise “Oh, I thought Janet liked having fun.”

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

Sister Janet:
It’s interesting to ponder the thoughts I have as I reflect on each place I have ministered in. Three different stories come to mind. In my early days in community 60 years ago, not everyone had access to a car. I knew how to drive and was therefore chosen to be the convent chauffeur. I was responsible for transporting sisters where they needed to go. One of my favorite memories is taking a group berry picking: we had a great time!  

A funny experience I recall happened while I was the full-time cook for the sisters in Milford, Wisconsin. One day I made six donuts, one for each sister, as I didn’t want to have any leftovers  (they were really big). One sister never let me hear the end of that. I guess she wanted to have more than one.

One of my favorite community living experiences was in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. I was the baker there for a large group of sisters. I also visited members of the parish who were sick and taught religious education in the neighboring town.  

I am also thankful for my classmates: together we got through everything. It was a special bond of friendship, experiencing classes and learning about mission and ministry. We had fun!


The FSPA community embraced Sister Janet during her 60th jubilee celebration.

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

Sister Janet:
I liked all of my experiences. There was fun, excitement and challenge in all of it. 

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

Sister Janet:
If you’re tired of God pestering you say “Yes.” You won’t be sorry.

We hope that you have enjoyed experiencing the discernment and ministry stories of the 2019 FSPA jubilarians. To experience more of their reflections of religious life, visit And, stay tuned to Show me a sign for the 2020 jubilee celebration series beginning next summer!   

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

Discerning, igniting a revolution of peace

Thursday, October 5th 2017 12:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


The first thing I do each morning is check the news app on my phone. Before my feet even touch the floor I become conscious of the violence that has occurred while I slept — horror has erupted in our neighborhoods, wars continue to rage throughout many nations. I say yet another impassioned prayer for peace as I get up to begin my day.  

Yesterday, I rose with the anticipation of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis, known to many as a peacekeeper and the patron saint of animals, woke to his own journey of life almost 800 years ago that was not filled with roses and rainbows. He lived in the middle of warring papal and city states where the feudal system was breaking down. Chaos ruled and many found themselves destitute, starving, and unprotected from the violence around them. I imagine that if there had been 24-hour world news coverage or instant, streaming internet video in his time, his world would in many ways mirror our own.   


But Francis did not stand idle, watch the problems from a distance or hide from the world around him. God called him to go right into the heart of the system that was crumbling, urged him to move quickly to action. The invitation to “rebuild my church” was not some trite, easy task. It was an epic journey that would take Francis the course of his lifetime to navigate. For good or ill, he learned from success and I imagine much more from his failures. Perhaps in his early days, when he physically rebuilt churches stone by stone (as that is how he first interpreted God’s invitation), his isolation from social pressures and experience of quiet moments allowed him to discern how to be all of who he was before God. Eventually, as the story goes, Francis discovered that he needed to help people around him and started with the group he perhaps feared; the lepers.

Sister Eileen McKenzie reads a reflection of St. Francis by Brother Ruffino during an FSPA Transitus celebration in Mary of the Angels Chapel: "I remember how knowing Jesus and following in the footprints of Jesus was the one passion of his life."

Francis is a model and a light for our world today. He reminds us to reach out to help everyone in need, even those who make us feel uneasy, who we don’t understand and who we’ve previously chosen to ignore. He challenges us not to wait around hoping someone else will respond to the chaos around us. Light is even more contagious than darkness. What else could explain the thousands of silly, tug-at-your-heart animal videos on social media that so many of us tune out the troubled world to see? We are all looking for laughter and joy.

What would happen if, around the globe, we woke up to news stories filled with such love and happiness? A world in which individuals cultivate peace and positivity rather than fostering greed, hate and possessiveness?

Perhaps we could all begin our own revolution of peace.

Our collective wakeup call is here. How is your discernment beckoning you to be a light in our world today? How will you ignite a revolution of peace and joy in your corner of the world?

Where will your journey take you?

*Do you know someone experiencing discernment of religious life? We invite you to share this link,, and join the conversation. 

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