family - Related Content

Sister Romana's Six Word Story

Tuesday, January 10th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Romana Klaubauf, FSPA


What's your six word discernment story?

Franciscan family reunions

Thursday, June 30th 2016 10:24 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA



Statue of St. Francis overlooking San Damiano in Assisi, Italy

St. Francis of Assisi knew it was important for his brothers to routinely come together. He called these gatherings Chapter of Mats, because the brothers would literally bring mats to sleep on while they camped at San Damiano. San Damiano, a church in Assisi, Italy, was the first home of the Franciscan Order. It’s where Francis heard the call from God to “rebuild my church.”


San Damiano courtyard

Today, summer is a time when many people pack suitcases and travel to family reunions. Some unite immediate families—those we know well—and others are big extended-family events where nametags are necessary to identify aunts, uncles and cousins as members of the family. In the past 10 days I have had the opportunity to attend gatherings that identify as both.


Sisters by birth and vows of FSPA, Sisters Carolyn and Roselyn Heil, rejoice together during Community Days.

Inspired by the wisdom of St. Francis of Assisi, FSPAs from across the globe gathered at St. Rose Convent, our motherhouse in La Crosse, Wisconsin, for what we call Community Days. It was a time of inspiration as we shared stories of the people and places we serve, prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, discussed the ongoing call of ministry and celebrated each individual’s gifts as we were sent forth into mission. Spending time with one another strengthens our commitment to religious life and reminds us of the call we have each received from God to continue in the Franciscan tradition to rebuild the church today.


FSPA gathered for Community Days in St. Rose Convent's Mary of the Angels Chapel (photo by Sister Nina Shephard)

Sent forth in my own mission of vocations, of sharing the invitation to religious life with FSPA, I then attended a gathering of the Franciscan Federation. The Franciscan Federation is a larger group of the Franciscan family—religious brothers and sisters who follow the Third Order Rule of St. Francis. Members of the organization that promotes “the exploration and study of Franciscan Evangelical Life and its implications for these ties and for the world” come from different Franciscan religious congregations, span the United States, serve diverse ministries, and unite in a celebration much like an extended family reunion.

We all share the same tradition and the name Franciscan but each community looks a bit different. The nametags we wear and the stories we tell of our founders help us know what part of the family we come from. Gathered around tables were sisters and brothers, each bringing a depth of lived experience to the conversations. The Federation is celebrating 50 years of existence, born from a dream of collaboration. Today the organization continues to grapple with the challenges and gifts of collaborating across congregations, ideologies and busy calendars in a world that continues to grow in diversity. The work of the Gospel always calls for innovation to meet the needs of the times we live in and the coming together of family to achieve it.

As you explore your own discernment, consider the distinctive family traits of each community: Franciscans are known as peacemakers, Dominicans as preachers, Benedictines as hospitality givers. Is it in your nature to exude peace? Are you called to join a family of Franciscans working in service of the Gospel with joyful hearts, gathering regularly to work together on important needs and seeing all of creation as brothers and sisters?

Sister Margaret's Six Word Mission Story

Tuesday, May 30th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Margaret Wenzel, FSPA



Are you willing to share (post a comment below) your own Six Word Mission Story?

Sister Margaret's Six Word Story

Tuesday, September 6th 2016 12:00 pm
Sister Margaret Wenzel, FSPA

What's your six word discernment story?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24th 2016 9:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

Photo of the Week - Week 13

Wednesday, April 6th 2022 3:32 pm

It isn't the best photo. It's too dark, too close and a bit blurry -- but it's a favorite because it reminds me of a special time.

I continue to be surprised that anyone here might think that I am something special. I sometimes forget that I look different, or that by being from the United States, people find that interesting. I mean, I am from the United States so to me, that's old news! I don't often feel very useful, only helping a little bit with the important work Sister Yanira does. I have gotten a lot of compliments on my photos, but still, that pales in comparison to the life-saving work going on here. Of course, there are the continuing challenges of speaking Spanish, too. Today a large family that we cooked soy with made me feel special. The mothers taught me a few words in Gwarayu, the traditional language of this area (admittedly, I forgot them but that's not the point), one of the teenage girls took a selfie with me while we made Cuñapes together and the younger kids couldn't get enough of me and the camera I was taking photos with. I felt love and acceptance from this friendly -- kind and inviting family. It was a great day!

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Sister Linda to discerners: 'I thank God every day for my vocation.'

Thursday, September 5th 2019 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


After 50 years of ministry, FSPA celebrates Sister Linda's jubilee


Sister Linda Riesberg, celebrating her jubilee at Villa St. Joseph

In many classrooms across the United States, young children begin expanding their senses of belonging in the world. Their learning deepens as they listen to people who come to visit them, telling of the jobs they do on behalf of the world. Inevitably, their teachers ask, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” 

Many students change their ideas and their replies over time, but since the second grade, Sister Linda Riesberg has known who she wants to be — a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration. Now, 50 years later, after fulfilling this sense of self, she continues to grow into this choice each day. Recently, Show me a sign asked Sister Linda to contemplate her discernment story ...

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

Sister Linda:
I just knew since second grade, and never changed my mind. I don’t know what in particular affected that decision. I thank God every day for my vocation. 

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

Sister Linda:
I wanted to enter the convent after eighth grade, but my parents told me I had to attend two years of high school first. I didn’t like that answer and kept asking them to let me go. After my freshman year, they did: I finished my last three years of high school at St. Mary’s Academy in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, which was a school run by FSPA.  


Sister Linda, 1967

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

Sister Linda:
My biggest memories include being received into the novitiate, making promises on Holy Thursday (another step in the incorporation process during that time) and making final vows.  

Show me a sign:
What has been your favorite ministry and why?

Sister Linda:
I particularly enjoyed working with people who are developmentally challenged and have special needs. They taught me a lot about unconditional love, trust and being myself.

The celebration of our 2019 jubilarians continues as they share reflections of gratitude for religious life. Read them here!

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

This day of thanks and giving

Thursday, November 23rd 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA



Image courtesy

May this day be a time of contemplation as you gather with family and friends and recall the many gifts God has blessed you with throughout the year.

Sister Celesta: "What more could I ask?"

Thursday, May 16th 2019 10:15 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


“The tradition I chose … responded to the longing I recognized in myself early on.”


The FSPA community celebrates Sister Celesta's diamond jubilee at St. Rose Convent.

“I had this longing connected to my beliefs but I needed time to discover what that meant,” shares Celesta Day, who for 60 years has served as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration — vowed Franciscan women engaged in furthering the work of the Gospel and the Catholic church.

In celebration of Sister Celesta’s diamond jubilee, Show me a sign asked her to reflect upon discernment of religious life — her personal journey that began before she answered “yes” to God and continues as she lives the Gospel through contemplation and action today.       

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

Sister Celesta:
It took awhile for me to decide on my vocation. I gave myself a deadline: by the time I finished school. I worked with sisters and observed how they served willingly, took opportunity to reflect and deepen their faith convictions. That seemed to appeal significantly to me, so I chose to enter the convent and began the journey to become an FSPA.

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

Sister Celesta:
Unbelievably! My faith-filled parents were mostly thrilled, knowing that if I chose the convent that dreams of future grandchildren and family growth would change forever. My friends were incredulous. For them, work, fun, dating and planning for the future didn’t relate the life of a “sister.” I recognized that my decision influenced more than my private self.

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

Sister Celesta:
The yearning in me has been affirmed and largely supported by my religious life. This lifestyle requires me to take time to reflect, learn, observe and hopefully contribute to the life around me.

It’s likely that my family has expanded far beyond what would have existed, and I chose a different lifestyle. My birth family is at peace with that.

Opportunities in my ministry have exposed me to a wide world of cultures, traditions and customs that expanded my perceptions. The most exciting realization is that I am not finished! My experience and hopefully my transformation will continue until this life ends. What more could I ask?

Show me a sign:
What has been your favorite ministry, and why?

Sister Celesta:
I really enjoyed being a nurse, yet as my ministry has evolved I’ve learned that there is joy in serving many different needs.

Show me a sign:
What advice would you give women discerning religious life today?

Sister Celesta:
Sociologists say “Go with your burn.” The army says,” Be all you can be.” Christ says “Come follow me!” So don’t just go for it, but look for paths that have credible directions attached. The tradition I selected has, for more than 4,000 years, responded to the longing I recognized in myself early on. It has been a great ride. 

May God bless and direct you as you make your life decisions. I’ll pray for you.

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

Thursday, November 14th 2019 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


"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.

A promise to build a new life upon

Thursday, April 6th 2017 11:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


I am fascinated by “Who Do You Think You Are?”, a cable television show on the TLC network. Each episode features a media icon who, through the assistance of genealogy experts, professors, librarians, historians, and others, delves into their family history. No stone is left unturned as a camera crew follows the individual searching for their roots throughout the United States and, in some cases, around the world. Narratives of long-forgotten relatives leap from pages of documentation, becoming next clues in the ongoing quest for information; identity.

Story-by-story, the truth is revealed. While not all chronicles are happy or full of pride, knowledge of where they came from—documented on paper—gives a sense of connectedness far beyond a code of DNA.

Today’s first reading recalls one of our familial stories of faith; a touchstone of generations that came before us. Through other stories of Abram (who is renamed Abraham) we know he is advanced in age, at what seems to be the end, when he is promised generations and land. From this, a new life emerges for him. This is not a one-way contract: Abraham is asked, on behalf of himself and his descendants, to uphold the covenant—placing God as the center of his life and for all those to come.

It is in the quiet moments of prayer that Abraham receives the news that shapes not only his living years, but those spanning far beyond his death as well. And God keeps his promise: we see the fruits more than 2,000 years later each time we hear the genealogy of Jesus proclaimed from Matthew 1:1-17.

Deep moments of prayer are crucibles in which we enter into conversation with God about our life’s direction. Discernment calls each of us to make God the priority in our lives and to listen. Our covenant with God requires focus and determination to set aside anything that will distract or become a stumbling block to our full attentive presence. By choosing to distract ourselves from listening—particularly when we are called to rise to the potential already within us—we can hide from God.

As we prepare for Palm Sunday and the liturgies of Holy Week, may we remember our commitment to prayer and presence. Placed before us in the next few days are the stories that form who we are and what we believe.

In your prayer this week ponder …

What is the everlasting promise God is offering as you discern?

What will your “Yes” mean for you and generations to come?

In the spirit of thanksgiving to God

Thursday, November 28th 2019 7:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


Gather with gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day.


As we gather around the table in a spirit of thanksgiving to God for the blessings of friends, family, community and food, may we also reach out to those who are separated from loved ones, those who are mourning losses, and those who are homeless or hungry. May we also remember in our prayers of thankfulness all those who have grown, harvested and prepared the food that graces our tables today.

Discernment and Advent: called to new life

Thursday, December 6th 2018 10:00 am
Amy Taylor, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration


"God creates ways to fill in the holes we're convinced might swallow us up"


Image courtesy

Life, as well all know, includes instances in which things don’t work out the way we plan and dream. It could be an important exam that, despite long hours of study, garners a bad grade; disappoints and shatters your confidence. Or, perhaps it is the sudden end to a relationship that breaks your heart. It is in these raw, emotionally exhausting and vulnerable experiences that we stand before God, mourning our losses and grappling with what feels like the worst time in life — one leading to doubts and questions of our own motives, goals and identity.

If you’ve ever sunk to the depths of such despair — your own rock bottom — you will understand this week’s first reading as we hear the words from Baruch. The people are in agony; separated and lost with thoughts that they have been forgotten. But this is not true. God calls them to new life; reminds them that all is not lost. They will be happy again. They will have all they need. They are called out of mourning, reassured and given a renewed sense of purpose. With God’s encouragement, the fading light of what looks like the end can actually reveal the footholds of a new beginning — not only survival but hope and happiness.

God‘s light and love never dissipates. Friends and family pray you through, even if silently; under the guise of leaving you to find your own way through grief or challenge. They, like God, have not abandoned you in your time of need. 

The Gospel is yet another source of encouragement, reminding us all this Advent season that every experience in life can be a stepping stone as we move into the future. God creates ways to fill in the holes we’re convinced might swallow us up.

As we reflect on the second week of Advent let us consider …

•    How has God guided you along a treacherous path to restore your joy?
•    How are you paying it forward and helping a friend or family member who may be suffering?
•    How have you experienced disappointment or loss on your discernment journey? 
•    How has God been with you … every step of the way?

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!


Sharing courage to walk in darkness and light

Thursday, February 9th 2017 2:40 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


My time with television news at home or listening to the radio on my way to work has been full of sorrow and worry. There's been very little positive news woven into each broadcast. Sometimes I just need to turn it all off and pray for peace.

Yet I know, no matter what the issue is or where you may personally stand with it, it's important to be informed about what's going on in the world. There’s also intrinsic value in holding on to your heart in times that can feel overwhelming. God is always present: the way forward will be created as we all rally as a human family. When we watch for one side or the other to succumb to defeat we also lose sight of the Gospel call to love one another. Does love want others to lose in order for someone to win? Is being right more essential than being compassionate?

Is any of this uncertainty affecting your discernment?

I've yet to meet anyone who can say their time of discernment was filled with only light because, inherently, fear and discouragement are all around us; part of being human. But when we encounter situations that stop our progress even for a moment we can, and not just as an afterthought, invite God to come closer: to center us and walk with us and help clarify the call for us. Learning to rely on God's guidance is essential. And whether it be uncertainty of the world or religious life, sharing your disillusionment with close family or friends is also essential to finding light in oblivion. Faith, hope and love are the antidotes of fear.

And strength of character in the depth of your commitment is often revealed when you find ways to befriend your moments of challenge.


Karen Lueck, FSPA, joined a recent solidarity rally in La Crosse, Wisconsin

Our world is a wonderful example right now, because despite the gloomy surface-level appearance, joy continues. Couples fall in love, students achieve their dreams, and elderly see another generation added to their families. The human spirit cannot be contained. Love and joy will find ways to shine even brighter against the dark horizon.

How has joy triumphed over disillusionment in your discernment this week?

How will you bring hope to others?

Will you share your courage to keep walking, in a world of darkness, on the journey of discernment?



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