journey - Related Content

Trailblazers and touchstones along the path

Thursday, June 2nd 2016 2:16 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

lake-shore-rocks-stacked
Photo credit: Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

This is the time of year when many of us will journey to new places. Via air travel we can wake up in one country and be in another by lunchtime. GPS is another tool to tell us exactly where we are going, the approximate time we will arrive, and any wrong turns we take along the way. I was reflecting on this as we recently celebrated Founder’s Day. One hundred and sixty-seven years ago FSPA’s foundresses traveled over the sea and eventually by wagon from Ettenbeuren, Bavaria, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and finally to La Crosse, Wisconsin. They left the familiar roads of their lives to blaze new trails. I imagine the first few miles were filled with memories of the places they were leaving behind as well as excitement of what they would encounter in the miles ahead. Their courage and willingness to create their own track has led more than a thousand women to join FSPA. Their determination to be women devoted to prayer and to serve those in need stands steadfast through time as touchstones for every woman who crosses the threshold of religious life. They are women who continually live on, move forward, in our memories and in our stories. Their pioneering spirit guides our congregation as we continue to make pathways for generations of followers in the years to come.

Who are the trailblazers in your life?  Can you find touchstones to guide you? Are you willing to go where God leads, even if you don’t know exactly how long or how far the journey will be?

Sister Therese's Six Word Story

Tuesday, September 27th 2016 10:00 am
Sister Therese Wolf, FSPA

 

God-called-journey-began-still-journeying-Therese-Wolf-FSPA

 

What's your six word discernment story?

 

Journey of Advent

Thursday, December 7th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

suitcase-scarf-camera-pixabay.com

Image courtesy pixabay.com

Do you like to travel? Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? A pilgrimage is a journey on which the participant commits to growing in faith, discovering lessons along the way and depending on God and the kindness of others to provide. This Advent season, I invite you to consider making your own spiritual pilgrimage, exploring the inner landscape of your heart in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It will require making time in your life to explore the questions that are most important to you; those that can serve as a map through your heart. What do you most need in your life of faith this Advent season? How is your journey of discernment part of the pilgrimage experience? The journey inward has the power to shape how you encounter the world around you. The Scriptures of Advent are rich sources of inspiration and food for the journey. Are you willing to enter the passage?

Two experienced guides of navigating inner terrain are Mary and Joseph. Faced with a decree from Caesar Augustus to fulfill the mandatory census in Bethlehem, they began a physical journey. From the vantage point of over 2,000 years later we can also imagine that the trip would spiritually transform their lives. I imagine many miles punctuated with conversation about their dreams for the future and periods of quiet reflection to gather the vastness of what may lie ahead. Many prayers formed the ground on which they walked. They were dealing with big changes — a new marital relationship, preparation for a baby like no other, and the danger of travel. I wonder how vividly they recalled each of their experiences leading to the road: Mary and her encounter with the angel and Joseph’s dream that changed his mind.

Mary-and-Joseph-traveling-freeimages.com

Image courtesy freeimages.com

They chose to rely on God in all the uncertainty and challenge of not only this new spiritual pilgrimage, but also the realization of their unfolding pilgrimage of life. And watching Mary and Joseph each day, Jesus would grow into his own awareness of his humanity as they traveled.

In the first Gospel reading of Advent we see Jesus, on his own pilgrimage, taking a moment to pass on to his disciples the wisdom of cultivating watchfulness in their lives. He uses a story to try to get his point across. While they do not fully understand the journey that lies ahead, he advises them to be on guard; to know what you are about and what others around you are up to.

For us in our time, His wisdom continues to ring true. It is dangerous to be lulled into acedia; to think we have all the time in the world to be watchful … until we don’t. Pick up any newspaper or skim articles online to see stories of lives suddenly shortened. Time waits for no one. During the holiday season there is additional pressure and expectation and it's easy to see how the lure of inattentiveness beckons as an easier route; to let things go, put off until another time. Well, there may not be another time. What happens then? How can you take time now to be watchful, not only for the bad but for all the joy around you as well? Will you miss an experience simply because you were distracted?

What do you need to do in order to begin a four-week pilgrimage of faith this Advent season?

How will you be ready to begin the journey?

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

Transforming the power of snow

Thursday, January 12th 2017 10:10 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Close your eyes and take a moment to walk around in your childhood memories of snow. Can you hear the crunching of the frozen earth beneath your feet? A deep breath brings a twinge of pain that quickly turns to relief as nights of prayers are finally answered for lovers of snow—it’s the first snowy day of the winter.

Mornings have never been easy or cheerful for me, except when anticipating a snow day off of school as a child. On these rare occasions in the southern part of the Midwest, such an event was a treasured experience. I recall racing past the breakfast table to turn on the TV, hoping against all that I held important in my childhood days to see the name of my school district scroll across the bottom of the screen as the newscaster seemed to drone on and on about news that was unimportant to my elementary mind. The leading story for me was school closings. And when it finally appeared, my brother and I would shriek with joy!

Now I live in Wisconsin where snow is a part of most days. Pushing ahead through snowy roads, walking like penguins in icy parking lots, the allure of snow can lose its luster. There are some days, like today, when the snowflakes are almost cartoon-like and I’m transported back in time to feelings of nostalgia; of the excitement that snow used to bring. Staring out the window I can get lost in my own philosophical and theological ponderings of the gift of snow. I find myself reflecting on what snow offers in my spiritual life. Time slows down and the familiar landscape transforms before my eyes. Choosing to walk through the snow mystery enters into my consciousness as I am invited to alertness of each step; moving through space with new awareness. My sure footedness is altered as slick surfaces send a signal of caution.

Snow falling outside Mary of the Angels Chapel at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin

Yet I am amazed at the beauty that appears as I walk across a sparkling carpet of opaque gems glistening in the filtered light. The holy stillness of a snow-filled world is overwhelming when I make the decision to embrace the experience and not fight against it. Sometimes I think as a culture we have lost the ability to let ourselves sink deeply into the moments of our lives. Tied to phones, appointment books and over-scheduled calendars the gift of snow—sweeping it off our cars, shoveling it down our driveways—can merely be one more thing on our list of accomplishments for the day. The snow becomes something to be conquered and managed rather than experienced. What would happen if on one day you let snow be your focus and teacher? Would greater lessons appear than the ones you planned?


snow-sunshine-glisten

Image courtesy of freeimages.com

Sometimes discernment can be similar to snow. There are times of magic and inspiration: fragments when secrets of the universe open and understanding dawns in your heart and mind. And there are times when you feel like you need to push through; shovel and manage your own discernment as desire to see progress outweighs your ability to sit with the mystery that surrounds you.

Both reflections have their place in discernment—times during which inspiration will lead you to action and others in which shear willpower is required to motivate you forward. Every action—even making the choice not to make a decision—is a decision. Living in a snowy climate is not for the timid of heart nor is the journey of discernment.

This week: If you live in an area of the country in which it’s snowing, take time to watch it fall and then write about your experience. Are there clues for your discernment? If you are living in an area without snow think of a situation where something beyond your control slowed you down or changed your regular routine. How were you present to the situation?

Walk with compassion

Thursday, April 13th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

Where are we going?

Thursday, June 8th 2017 1:55 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Where are we going? When are we going to get there?

These are questions I recall asking incessantly, as a child, every time my family would get in the car and head out of our driveway for a road trip. Sometimes we had a plan and direction; others, we went out for an adventure and looked for signs touting interesting destinations and attractions along the road.

Life, I‘ve discovered, offers both of these experiences: sometimes I know exactly where I’m going but, more often than not, it reveals itself in the right place, at the right time. Yet I know that God is in everything—the things I plan and the surprises around each twist and turn.

Religious life is also a transformative road trip; each generation guided by its unique calling in the world. Some ministerial routes are planned according to congregational tradition while others are detoured to guide us to new destinations of need.

It reminds me of the story of the Good Samaritan, taking his own road trip. He had a plan when he started his journey yet when he came upon someone in need not only did his itinerary change but, I imagine, his heart was transformed too.

Creating-Our-Future

FSPA gather together to envision, plan for and celebrate the future of religious life.

This weekend, our congregation will come together for community days: a convergence of all FSPA ministries and experiences and ideas. Our hearts and minds are pointing to the future of religious life with the intention of our conversations and prayer to help us live into our now and what is to come. For, as Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Eileen McKenzie writes in her poem “Rebirth” (published in a “Global Sisters Report” article on June 6), women religious are uniting on the road to the way:

 

Midwife

Midlife

Midway

Middlespace

Where are we?

Who knows?

We’re here.

Now.

That’s enough.

 

What’re we doin’?

We’re sharin’ and carin’

And rarin’ to go.

Go where?

Don’t know.

Haven’t been there before.

But we know the Way.

Caring and sharing

Questioning and praying

Laughing and dancing

Accompanying and crying

Witnessing and proclaiming

Healing and teaching

Trying and failing

Trying again and failing again

Learning

Finally

That there’s no “right way”

There’s only

The Way

And that Way is

Living and

Loving and

Dying and

Rising again to

New Life.

Where are we going again?

Don’t know.

Haven’t been there before.

But we DO know the Way.
 

As you walk your own road of discernment this week, reflect upon how you may be coming upon a turn towards religious life. Your gifts and talents may be precious fuel for propelling us into the future.

What scenery is catching your eye?

What needs are you discovering along the way?

How is your discerning heart transforming on your journey?


From wherever you are in the world, join us in a moment of prayer as FSPA meets to discern the future of religious life.

 

Watch Sister Eileen’s discernment reflection--her own journey to religious life--in the FSPA vocation series "Called."

Beacons of hope

Thursday, December 21st 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Whether on a trip to visit a friend with a detour along the way or forging my continual pilgrimage through religious life, I rely on mile markers and signs to point me in the direction of my destination. The lighting of the third candle of Advent this week is a beacon as I traverse the remaining days of my Advent journey. Closer to my destination, I am filled with joyful revelation of all I’ve experienced so far as well as hope and anticipation for what lies ahead. Even the dark moments of pilgrimage are illuminated with the joy of the lessons learned and the deepening of relationship with God. Spiritual blisters are a symbol for me of the road walked, and the joy I discovered in risking the journey. I am forever changed by walking the pilgrim road.

lighthouse-beacon

Image courtesy pixabay.com

The prophet Isiah proclaims encouraging words to nations who have been waiting for a sign. The long awaited time is now — life is about to change. What have you been looking for on your road of discernment? Are you waiting for assurance, courage, perfect timing to ask questions? Healing, freedom, and vindication are at hand and it’s time to celebrate! Are you ready to seize the moment and be bold? God provides, not only for you and me but for all nations. This is no small promise. This is life altering, earth shattering news — joy beyond measure. We are headed for the celebration of the incarnation, Emmanuel, God with us as one of us! Darkness is vanished all creation revels in great joy!

In the Gospel, John the Baptist continues to point the way. He is the humble messenger who will not be dissuaded from his task; even as they try to twist his words in attempt to bind his ego and catch him in the trap they are laying, top officials will not stop his progress. John knows who he is and who has sent him on this journey. His pilgrimage of faith has led him through the byways of his heart and to the road of public witness, sharing the good news of Christ’s coming. God is John the Baptist’s signpost; he will follow wherever the journey takes him, through the joy and trials along the road of his own pilgrimage. In many ways this question of identity echoes in the heart of all discerners. So who are you? What do you stand for? What is your message? How does your life point to God?

As you continue your Advent pilgrimage this week I invite you to ponder the following:

-- What have been some of the joys and trials along your Advent pilgrimage?

-- How do you depend on God to be a signpost for you on your journey?

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

Praying through the storms of the heart

Thursday, August 25th 2016 10:16 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

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Image courtesy of www.freeimages.com

The weather has been saturated with dark skies, torrential rain and in many places, flooding. Traffic bogs down and short tempers flare. Under bright sun or dark clouds, honking horns and disgruntled drivers slowly creep at a snail’s pace down roadways as they make the daily work-to-home dash. Irritability follows us inside to days packed with ringing phones and endless meetings. Out in the elements again we are further exacerbated by fueling stops and dry cleaning pick up, all while mentally wondering what to cook for dinner.

Some days, just getting into a hot, steamy car can feel as if nothing is going the way we plan. But, although we can’t control the weather, we can choose the climate in our hearts. Driving through big puddles should be an invitation to slow down; can be a reminder to look again at what we let ourselves pass by in the now normal speed of life.

Rain, in moderation, has the ability to refresh the air, the earth. Perhaps we too can find revitalization if we look up from a different perspective; see through the drops for the gifts it may hold.

Becoming aware of how we let external sources determine our interior dispositions is a great lesson for our spiritual journeys.  

How do the elements—both nurturing and damaging—reflect upon your discernment?

Jesus under wraps

Thursday, July 14th 2016 10:11 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Jesus-wrapped-plastic

Sacred Heart of Jesus statue "under wraps"

St. Rose Convent is undergoing minor renovations: new carpet installation is underway and some of the walls are soaking up fresh coats of paint. Walking down the hall to my office one day I noticed our large statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was covered in protective plastic wrap as painters prepped the surrounding stairwell.

To see the statue sheathed, covered up, prompted me to discern the question “When do I freely share about my relationship with Jesus and when do I protect it—keep it under wraps?  

It’s easy to share about my relationship with Jesus and my faith when I am with others who have similar views; when I feel engaging in that conversation is safe. Yet the call of the Gospel is challenging as it beckons us to the next-step of discussion; requires each of us to live boldly our faith. 

Is your relationship with Jesus and your discernment journey under wraps?

What would happen if your belief in Jesus was unbound?  

Would your life be different? 

How will you uncover it? 

Impart it to others?

 

Mary and our "Yes" to mystery

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

 

This Saturday is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. As I prepare for the celebration I’ve contemplated the Gospel we'll receive that day and thought about all the announcements made over the intercom I hear at St. Rose Convent in the course of a day. From the speaker just outside of my office I hear receptionists paging employees and sisters; reminders about Mass, committee meetings (even exercise class) and other activities beginning soon. I’m able to block out most of this background noise as it’s rare such announcements are personally meant for me. On the sporadic instance it is, I have a community filled with helpful sisters who diligently make me aware of what I may have inadvertently tuned out.


microphone-freeimages.com

Image courtesy of freeimages.com

In the Gospel, Mary encounters and responds to a life changing annunciation. This is not a vague message. It is specific. She is called by name, reassured of her goodness, provided with initial details of what is to come and given an opportunity to respond. Finally she makes a choice. She says ”Yes” to be the mother of Jesus. No instruction book is given, no promise of happiness, yet she says ”Yes.” When we say "Yes" to vocation we—like Mary—must walk the road, learning as we go, trusting God is always there.

This is one of several call and response stories we have in our Scriptures but Mary, in particular, is a model for discerners. Mary’s experience is a snap shot of what most of us experience in discerning religious life—movement towards making a choice. Gabriel may not be the one delivering the invitation but in many ways—when our worlds are changed in an instant—we can feel like Mary. The potential of the trajectory of our lives is laid before us and God waits for our "Yes."

God knows our hearts and understands how to communicate with us. The magnitude of our circumstance may draw messengers—delivering personal, divine requests—directly to us. The longer I live the more I doubt there are mere coincidences.  

Through the season of Lent we have been following the journey of Jesus to the cross. The annunciation story reminds us where and how it all began. Each decision about and response to God’s invitations has bearing on the future. Both stories convey the love God has for us. Love in action; in different moments of the unfolding narrative beginning with the very first moments of being through the maturation and insight into life choices made. Mary and Jesus choose love no matter the consequence for their lives.

This reading in the middle of Lent invites me to ponder loving more and worrying less. How can I let go of the need to know what to expect when love has a different answer? Always provides a way?

Is your discernment journey leading you to a “Yes” to love like Mary?

How does your life announce to the world your commitment to God?

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.   

St-Francis-statue

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, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation. 

"Yes" to God's invitation

Thursday, June 22nd 2017 3:05 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Over the course of the last several weeks our congregation has celebrated the commitment of “yes” to God with the vow renewal of Sister Laurie Sullivan, profession of perpetual vows by Sister Kristin Peters, and Golden Jubilee celebration for Sisters Romana Klaubauf and Esther Leis. We all experienced religious life unfolding before our very eyes; witnessed what it means to walk on the Gospel-centered journey of life as a religious sister—all on different stepping stones marking the way.  

Sisters-Karen-Lueck-Laurie-Sullivan-renewal

Sister Karen Lueck (left) calls forth Laurie Sister Sullivan (right) to renew her vows. 

Sister Laurie opened our season of celebration by renewing her vows for three years at Villa St. Joseph surrounded by FSPA community members, many of whom she ministered among during her early formation days volunteering in spiritual care. For her prayer service she chose a Gospel reading about love. Sister Laurie has shown love to others guided by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy by accompanying patients in hospital rooms, feeding the hungry at food pantries, visiting the elderly in their homes, and nurturing spirituality as the coordinator of youth in a parish—each new place and ministry a reflection of her deepening commitment to religious life and her “yes” to God. Sister Laurie is following in the footprints of Jesus and St. Francis, moving to serve where she is needed. For her the Franciscan Gospel life has been eyes and ears open for the call to where God invites; feet ready to move. 

Sister-Laurie-Sullivan-food-bank

Sister Laurie, pictured here serving those in need at a food pantry.

 

Sisters Laura-Eileen-Katie-Kristin-Julia-El-Camino

From left to right, Sisters Laura Nettles, Eileen McKenzie, Katie Mitchell, Kristin Peters and Julia Walsh stand together on their Camino pilgrimage (photo courtesy of Sister Katie Mitchell). 

The open road has also been a call to Sister Kristin Peters who just returned from a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. As on some legs of her journey she was accompanied by her FSPA companions and on others she hiked alone, she discovered that her Camino experience mirrored religious life: you may walk with others but you also have to walk your own journey. Each step reveals insight. No one can walk for you, live for you. Sister Kristin's “yes” to religious life over the past 10 years has taken her to discover diverse paths to serve those with substance addiction and mental illness; to deliver, in ministry, help and compassion. She has ministered to many who others step over, walk past. It is no surprise that the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd inspires her and is what she chose to guide her final vow liturgy. Sister Kristin listens and reflects the knowledge each person gains as they find their own way back into the sheepfold of our civic communities.

Sisters-Kristin-Peters-Blanche-Klein-ring

Sister Kristin receives her FSPA ring from Sister Blanche Klein. 

 

Sisters-Romana-Klaubauf-Karen-Kappell-corsage-pinning

Sister Romana Klaubauf receives her 50th Jubilee celebration corsage from Sister Karen Kappell.

A bit further down the road of religious life, Sisters Romana Klaubauf and Ester Leis shared their travel stories—their individual ministries—at a pre-jubilee pizza party. We watched a slide presentation of the sights they saw along their professions of 50 years, glimpsing decades of serving God's people and meeting new challenges in the changing landscapes of religious life. Mary of the Angels was filled to capacity as community members, family and friends gathered to witness their ongoing commitment. The readings they chose (Isaiah 43:1-10Micah 6:8 and John 10) tell their stories of faithfulness to God.

Esther-Leis-flower-procession

Sister Esther Leis processes into Mass held in honor of her Golden Jubilee.

These three celebrations were each unique in time and experience yet all pointed to the goodness revealed through the faithfulness of “yes.” The song “I Say ‘Yes’ Lord/Digo ‘Sí’ Señor” by Donna Peña and Marty Haugen has been moving in my heart and mind as I ponder the blessing each of these celebrations have been. They are witnesses to our world of faithfulness and commitment in good times and challenges. We all walk terrain smooth and bumpy; mountainous and flat. God is with us in each step, and every breath of life. 

This week as you consider your own location in discernment ask yourself ...

What are the celebrations marking my journey?

Is there a theme to my experience so far?

How am I relying on God?

Distraction

Thursday, May 11th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

mind-full-or-mindful?

Some days are filled with fragmented energy: my attention is pulled in many directions and lacks the clear focus and interior motivation necessary to complete the tasks at hand. Perhaps it’s the fickleness of the weather or the simple fact that I’m daydreaming of the near future when I will take a break from my office and go on retreat. It is a challenge for me to keep both feet planted in the now and not run towards a time that is not yet here. The irony is that once I arrive at the retreat center, part of my time will be spent settling into the quiet and letting go of the work I left behind. The quiet is often disrupted as I laugh at myself and recall that no matter the location, I am who I am. Time passes in the same way; the difference is the means at which I move through it.

I believe what I’m describing is a universal experience. Most of us feel anticipation as we get closer to vacations and get-togethers without realizing it can overshadow the present day and appreciation of the gifts it offers.

There are lessons in distraction. Sometimes distractions can serve as light to the deeper questions in my life easily overlooked in everyday busyness—why am I distracted? What does distraction teach? We are taught from an early age to be productive, but what if the pathway to greater understanding is to accept and immerse ourselves in the times of interference; to welcome discovery of the creativity that can surface when we ask a different question of ourselves. There are times in discernment where distraction will be part of the journey; when the idea of exploring a back road to see what is out there rather than continuing on the well-worn highway may lead to insight. Perspective is gained when we allow room for newness of the experience to unfold and evolve over time.

And perhaps it is the influence of the Holy Spirit that gifts us with days of distraction so that ultimately we settle into the present.

Where did you experience diversion in your discernment?

What did you find within it?

Service Saturday: mutuality at its core

Thursday, January 26th 2017 2:15 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Most Saturdays, especially those overshadowed by rain and cold, are prime sleep-in opportunities for college students. Yet at 8:30 a.m. last weekend more than 60 from Viterbo University came through doors of St. Rose Convent with light and joy to join FSPA in a day of service projects. The energy and excitement was contagious as participants eagerly grabbed fabric to make blankets and dry ingredients to package instant soup in jars, ready to share their joy of life with others.

student-volunteers

Service Saturday students from Viterbo University at St. Rose Convent

Collaboration between the Viterbo community and the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration on behalf of serving others was the theme dubbed Service Saturday. As FSPA director of membership I co-coordinated the event with Kirsten Gabriel (director of Viterbo's service learning program) who reminded everyone of the mutual transformation that is possible when we enter into service with open minds and hearts.

student-Sister-Esther-making-valentines

A Viterbo student makes valentines for veterans with Sister Esther Leis

Sister Antona Schedlo reiterated the importance of service as it contributes to mission. Sharing her vocation story and commitment to the mission of FSPA, she challenged everyone to follow their dreams and take time to ponder how far they are willing to go to reach them. Her goal as a young sister was to serve as a missionary and, although it took more than 17 years, she did make it to the mission fields of her dreams in El Salvador. She invited participants to look beyond the projects of the day into the deeper reality of serving others throughout their lives. The activities are more than tasks to complete: sewing mittens to donate to The Salvation Army is a way to stitch together the stories of those in need and letting their lived realities change your outlook.


students-with-mittens-made

Two of the many pairs of mittens knitted that day

Heads nodded as the wisdom of Sister Antona’s thought-provoking statements took root. More than hands were busy later that morning as students pondered the deeper meaning of packing hygiene bags for homeless, frosting Valentine cookies for a local shelter, writing letters of care and encouragement to people they don't know nor will see face-to-face.

You could almost hear them wondering what it's like to walk in the shoes of someone in need. What lessons do they teach? How are both parties changed in their awareness? The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus accompanying others in good times and challenging ones, inspiring the disciples not to impose power but to walk with the people. St. Francis of Assisi learned this lesson by taking time to accompany the lepers; observing and then taking action.

Discernment has such mutuality at its core.

It takes the willingness to learn and grow along the journey of life. Sometimes it means relinquishing control and letting God provide the lesson—vulnerability offered for those willing to let the experiences of service sink in.

How can the idea of collaboration shed light on your discernment journey?

Are you open to the idea that God co-creates with you the future?

Want more inspiration for service and discernment? Check out the recent Global Sisters Report article "Oh, the places you'll go if you collaborate."


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