ministry - Related Content

New prayer partners

Wednesday, December 20th 2017 1:50 pm

Sustaining Apaseo el Alto

Tuesday, May 23rd 2017 1:26 pm
Out of desolation, a garden can grow
 
 
 ...

Freezing and thawing: potholes surfacing in discernment

Thursday, February 23rd 2017 12:30 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

In the last few days we have been experiencing record-setting, spring-like temperatures, welcome gifts in what are normally snowy, frozen Wisconsin winters. Yet what lies beneath the ice-free roadways are side-effects of winter’s ills (seemingly worse this year) uncovered far too soon: potholes. Cavities in the pavement big enough, it seems, to swallow, chew up and spit out the tires on my car.

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Image courtesy of morguefile.com
 

These freezing/thawing streets on which we drive through snow and sunshine exemplify what rapid change brings, and the adaptations that even solid concrete is forced to make. Crews work diligently to fill in large stretches of encumbered roadways in between snow storms and bottomed-out temperatures, securing temporary fixes for much bigger issues: it will take more than a few shovels full of heated asphalt to really fix the breach of the once sturdy concrete.  

This process makes me wonder—in its own way, does a pothole break open greater insight to what we couldn’t see? 

Potholes can also emerge when you’ve just acclimated to navigating the already bumpy road of discernment. You may have become comfortable with your prayer routines, secured support from family and friends and be in great conversation with a community you’re interested in. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a figurative fissure appears, blocking your path ahead. Yet while a void in discernment (or even a series of them) can raise some anxiety it can actually spring forth opportunity for creativity. It may provide an opening for you to find your way around—a challenge that in earlier days would have forced you to make a U-turn. Detours may be necessary but, if you are willing to reflect and not run from a change, there are lessons each choice presents. 

Jesus showed us how to navigate such unanticipated challenges: how many times did he have to find another way to proceed with his message? His roadway of ministry was filled with angry temple officials, jealous rulers and nervous disciples, but also the growing faith of the people he encountered. 

What are the potholes that have surfaced in your discernment? 

Have you found a way around them?

 

Life as a nun today: FSPA can relate

Thursday, August 10th 2017 3:10 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Sharing your desire to be a sister with family and friends can be challenging, especially if they only envision their teacher — wearing a habit — standing at the head of the class before the late 1960s after Vatican II when many religious communities chose to wear everyday clothing more reflective of modern times? “Refinery 29” recently published the article “What Convent Life Is Really Like In 2017,” and Show me a sign invites you to share the conversation with those around you who don’t necessarily understand what it means to live religious life — in life style and ministry — today.

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Sister Winifred teaching at Aquinas High School in her habit

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Sister Laura teaching at Viterbo University today

"As is often the case with mainstream religions," begins the article in which Sisters of St. Joseph Karen Burke speaks to "faith, service and living as a nun," "misconceptions about sisters and their congregations abound."

First introductions often spark confusion as she says she hears, "'Oh, sisters don’t wear habits anymore?' or some other remark on her everyday outfit of jeans and a sweatshirt. While women in other orders may choose to wear a full habit, many congregations no long require it, the Sisters of St. Joseph included."

As Sister Sarah shares, we can relate

"Sister Karen tells us that the Sisters of St. Joseph has always worked in the fields of education and health care, but in the past few years they've concerned themselves with, of all things, environmentalism ..."

As Sister Lucy ministers, we can relate.

"Sister Karen describes her decision to leave her career as an educator as a "leap of faith," adding that it surely won't be her last. "Through my own faith and through my own prayer and spirituality, my life will continue to change."

As Show me a sign recently explored career changes as a Catholic sister, we can relate.

Amidst changes in religious life and the growing needs in our world one constant is sisters' commitments to follow the Gospel and serve those in need. Whether their service takes them to classrooms, parishes, spirituality centers, organic farms or liminal spaces of our borders, sisters will find a way to meet today's needs.

What do articles like these do to spark your imagination about discerning life as a religious sister? We invite you to share it and www.fspa.org with your family and friends and show them a sign of what it looks like to live religious life today.

The celebration continues! [video]

Thursday, August 1st 2019 3:00 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Honoring discernment, jubilee and the 141st anniversary of perpetual adoration

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Sister Laura Schreck, FSPA jubilarian celebrating 75 years

Show me a sign is honoring our 2019 jubilarians by sharing their stories of discernment and ministry. Today, four jubilarians, Sisters Rita Mae Fischer, Rosile Pernsteiner, Lorraine Forster and Laura Schreck, are [literally] ringing in FSPA’s 142nd year of perpetual adoration. Their celebration continues!

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75-year jubilarian Sister Lorraine Forster

This year, Sisters Rita Mae, Rosile, Lorraine and Laura are among our wisdom sisters: those FSPA who have served the ministry of perpetual adoration the longest and who are invited to ring the bell during the annual anniversary celebration. Today, it sounded 141 times to commemorate the anniversary ... and one more to usher in the new year. FSPA prayer partners are also invited to sound the bell.

Curious about FSPA's sacred ministry of perpetual adoration, round-the-clock prayer that began on Aug. 1, 1878?

And, are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.

A Day of Ministry with the Santa Clara Nutrition Center

Sunday, April 10th 2022 4:23 am

Question:
What do you do at the nutrition center? Do you go there just once a day according to your "daily routine"? 

Response:
I really enjoy my ministry at the Santa Clara Nutrition Center and appreciate greatly the work that they do. We all work from 8 am to Noon.

Normally, we spend 2 or 3 days a week walking different neighborhoods and talking to parents about nutrition for their kids. I normally take photos, and Sister Yanira does all the talking. She is a nurse and uses that knowledge to help in different ways.

We try to cook with a family once a week, which gives Sister Yanira the opportunity to bring educational material for parents and kids to learn about things like nutrition and hygiene. I think cooking might be my favorite activity because it's a time for everyone to work together to make amazing food with soy that is high in nutrients and protein for families who might not have access to a lot of healthy food, especially meat.

Finally, a day is spent in the clinic. Sister Yanira works with families and I spend my time transcribing things on the computer or looking for photos on the internet for her to use in her educational talks.

We have participated in fairs in the neighborhoods as well, impressing people with delicious food made from soy. It's really all delicious! We also have information and conversations about nutrition and hygiene.

This is a description of a typical day walking the neighborhood:

It's 8:30 and the van arrives to take us to a neighborhood. As we drive, the van bounces over potholes and puddles, going slowly where water has washed away parts of the road.

When we arrive at the Eva Morales barrio (neighborhood), we hop out of the van with our backpacks and the van leaves us, on its way to help run other errands for the sisters and act as transportation for the Tao school down the block from the center, which provides education to special needs and undocumented children.

We begin to walk. This neighborhood happens to be in a more hilly area, so it's a bit more work. The sun is hot, and temperatures at the beginning of the day are normally in the low to mid-80s. It will get into the 90s before our walk is done. They are all dirt roads here, sometimes only passable on motorcycles or by walking. We hop over gullies and holes, sometimes slipping a bit on the loose rocks. Our sandals are covered with dust and dirt quickly.

As we walk, we talk about life, our faith and ourselves. We might stop for a minute or two to enjoy a flower, tree, insect or bird. Not too much time though, because we are on a mission!

As we near different homes, we scan the clotheslines for children's clothes. I think it's such a smart way to see if we should stop. People hand wash clothes here, and as you can guess, there are always kid's clothes being cleaned! If we see them or see kids playing in the yard, we stop.

Normally, there is a gate made of re-purposed wood and barbed wire. Interestingly, a lot of people use their barbed wire fences as drying lines as well. One of the many examples of how things are well used here - I am often surprised and inspired by things like this. Sometimes a dog or two will come to challenge our entry. In many places, dogs are more protectors than family friends.

Sister Yanira shouts a bit of a greeting and we are welcomed into the yard. Most times, the general living area is outside. There may be one building or multiple smaller buildings of re-purposed wood and dirt floors for bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens.

We are welcomed to an area that, if it was in a house, would likely be called the dining room. It's more like a porch here, with a covering to keep out the sun, and a table similar to a picnic table, where the family eats. First thing, chairs are produced for each of us. It is an incredibly welcoming gesture to me that is repeated for us in almost every place we visit.

This family includes a mom, a grandma and three kids. It is often the case, not always, that fathers are not present. I don't have specifics on the reasons, but it proves to be a challenge for the mothers who many times team up with their moms and possibly their sisters and their sister's children who are in the same situation.

The kids are normally a bit shy the first time we see them. Reserved and not sure what to make of us. They are curious about Sister Yanira in her habit and listen when their mom tells them to come over to us, but they are not ready to trust us yet.
 

Sister Yanira will check the kids, talk about nutrition, give medical advice, discuss education options for undocumented* kids and help if there is an urgent situation. 

We might schedule a cooking demonstration with a family, but we always provide information about the clinic and directions on how to get there.

As we leave, we thank the parents and say 'chao' to the kids. Now that we're leaving, smiles appear and return 'chaos' ring out from the kids. When we return in the future, most kids are transformed into interested, engaged, trusting children. It is a blessing to receive the gift of their trust.

We will repeat this process five or more times before we run out of time at about 11:30. Sometimes we are revisiting people who have received help before. Sometimes we are checking in on abuelas and abuelos (grandmothers and grandfathers) with health issues. Other times, we meet a child with special needs along with their brothers and sisters, presenting a different kind of challenge for a family here.

Sometimes when we visit a family, we find a chunky baby and kids that are a good weight. These times are not the norm however -- maybe one family of every five or six. Sister Yanira always celebrates these mothers, lifting them up with great praise and affirmation of the great job they are doing.

Finally, it's time to return. We hop on separate motorcycles and arrive back at the center with enough time for Sister Yanira to follow up on the takeaways she leaves the neighborhood with, put away our things and talk with the other staff there about each other's days.

*I wondered about what it means to be undocumented here. I wasn't sure if it was the same thing as in the United States. Here, undocumented kids are kids whose parents have not registered them. Both parents' signatures are required, and many times the fathers don't want to take responsibility for the child so they don't sign. Unregistered kids don't have access to healthcare or education. This puts moms in a very tough place. The Tao school provides education to these children.

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Sister Rita Mae to discerners: talk, explore, pray

Thursday, October 17th 2019 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

"Check out different congregations, and talk with people you love and trust."

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FSPA celebrates 2019 jubilarian Sister Rita Mae Fischer. 

Inspired by stories of heroic missionaries and growing up in a strong Catholic community, Sister Rita Mae Fischer began pondering what could be possible for her life if she too followed God’s call.  She bravely took action by choosing to enter religious life after graduating from high school. Her own adventures have taken her to many new places. As Sister Rita Mae now celebrates her 70th jubilee, Show me a sign has asked her to reflect on her life of service according to Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration’s mission.  

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

Sister Rita Mae:
I had several strong influences that helped me to decide:

  • Reading stories of missionaries.
  • My exemplary Catholic parents.
  • Visiting with Benedictine sisters who taught in my high school.
  • My extended-weekend visit (and traveling by train with a group of friends) with the sisters at St. Rose Convent.
  • Praying at St. Rose in the balcony of the Adoration Chapel.  

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

Sister Rita Mae:
My family and friends were happy. However, since I was the oldest girl in the family, it was my mother who missed me the most after I left for St. Rose Convent.

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Sister Rita Mae, FSPA class of 1949

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

Sister Rita Mae:
After eight years of teaching in Wisconsin and in the state of Washington, I went to Canton, Mississippi. I taught in Canton in the 1960s and, as the culture was vastly different from the one I’d experienced, I struggled to understand. Eventually, my teaching ministry of seven years there flourished. I treasure the communication I still have with my former students, some whom I taught 40 to 60 years ago.

Show me a sign:
Of the ministries you have served, are there any you hold closest to your heart?

Sister Rita Mae:
I have two favorite ministries: teaching primary grade children and ministering in school libraries.  

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On the day of her jubilee celebration, Sister Rita Mae receives a corsage from FSPA Mission Councilor Sister Karen Kappell.

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

Sister Rita Mae:
Pray about it, check out different congregations, and talk with people you love and trust.

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

Want a glimpse into the lives of other FSPA who share their own discernment stories and answers to questions like "How will religious life affect my relationships?" and "What if my family doesn't agree with my choice?" Check out Show me a sign's discernment video series Meet our sisters

Tuning in to God, discernment

Thursday, September 21st 2017 2:30 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Often when I am looking for inspiration in my writing, I go to places that feed my soul. Recently, I was sitting in the back row of our adoration chapel, pondering what to share in my next blog, while the piano in the main chapel was being tuned. My thoughts were punctuated with the same note sounding over and over again. I could hear slight adjustments with each stroke of the key. Occasionally, a scale would plunk out. 

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The piano in Mary of the Angels Chapel undergoes the tuning process.

Curious, I went to investigate and had a short conversation with the man tuning the piano. I asked him a few questions about the process and was fascinated to learn that he begins by striking a tuning fork. He then plays one note on the piano, listening as he adjusts the tension on the piano wire to match the pitch, then tunes the entire piano by ear. He listens not only to the single pitch but also how it sounds in relationship all the other pitches too. He shared how the environment around the piano, like climate and season, also effects the process. There is never a perfect time to tune. 

This resounding experience inspired me to ponder how discernment has similar elements. We are all influenced not only by our own gifts and talents but also where we find resonance with others. Often in discerning religious life, questions arise like “How will I know which congregation is best for me?” or “What if the congregations I’m interested in minister in similar ways?” 

These are great questions. Even when connecting to congregations with like-minded missions, there are steps to take to learn more. Ask any of your friends or family members how they chose significant others.  A list of characteristics does not tell the whole story. Two people could have the same job, live in the same city, look similar physically and enjoy the same hobbies, but there are thousands of idiosyncrasies that define differences when you get to know them more deeply. Sometimes there is more mystery than explanation but, at some level, these couples have found compatibility with one another.   

It was the same way for me when I was exploring discernment. Each community carried individual tones and music of life. From all the possibilities, it took time to learn about the differences between apostolic, evangelical, monastic, cloistered and missionary congregations for women, not to mention the different rules of life each follows (like Franciscan, Dominican, Benedictine). Then throw in ministries similar, if not the same. 

And so I visited different congregations, finding similarities and also distinctions. Some congregations I liked and others I was ready to leave almost as soon as I arrived; not because the congregation was unpleasant but because my gut instinct let me know immediately that our views of the world were too polar opposite. 

There was a combination of factors as to why I chose to be a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration. The more time I spent with FSPA I found that my goals, philosophies and beliefs coincided with many of theirs, and the viewpoints that didn’t exactly align invited more exploration as to why or why not. FSPA engaged both my mind and heart.  Although it was a mystery as to why a congregation several states away resonated more with me than those near to where I lived, I had to undertake my own pilgrimage of discernment. 

It reminds me of Abraham, having to make a journey to find his own home as he does in Genesis 12. God called him to leave the land that he knew and as he traveled he learned more about who he was. St. Francis of Assisi, our congregation’s founding inspiration, had to learn about his own journey of faith by first pursuing glory and honor through seeking knighthood but, along the way, learning his true call was to rebuild the church and be a champion for peace. It took both Abraham and St. Francis their lifetimes to live into the depth of their call from God. But they also had to take a step towards their calling and learn as they went. 

I can say that what first attracted me to my congregation is still present but what means more to me is the relationships I’ve been blessed with; the deepening of my own spiritual life, the ministry experiences that I never would have planned and the excitement that each new day brings. It was both exhilarating and daunting to take initiative that first visit but had I not my life would not be what it is — a completely, always surprising gift — today. 

This week a few question for you to ponder …

In what ways are you discovering that your discernment is not a simple, quick decision but a pilgrimage? 

How do you know when you resonate with someone or something?

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

FSPA at RE Congress 2018 ... Rise Up!

Thursday, March 22nd 2018 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

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Sisters Amy and Kathy greeted hundreds of people -- youth and adults -- at the annual congress for religious education in Los Angeles, California. (Photographer Victor Aleman)

Sister Kathy and I would like to send a shout out to all those we met at RE Congress 2018: Rise Up! while we represented the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and vocations there. It was inspiring to see the diversity of ministries represented as we all came to learn and pray together. If you were unable to stop by for a visit and find out more about our community, please send any questions you may have through the comment section (below).

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We look forward to hearing from 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.

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

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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.  

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

Lives that sparkle among us [Video]

Thursday, May 2nd 2019 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

A lifetime begins with a vocations invitation … and a “yes” to the calling.

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Sister Karen Neuser shares elation and gratitude during her 60-year jubilee celebration.

With joyful witness, FSPA's 2019 jubilee season recently kicked off. It began with a day to celebrate the selflessness given by those who've served the needs of the world for 75, 70 and 60 years as vowed women religious.

Learn more about the discernment of religious life that led to these decades of mission in an upcoming Show me a sign series featuring jubilarians who share, in their own words, their amazing experiences of ministry.

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

Diamonds in our midst

Thursday, May 18th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Twenty-six remarkable members of FSPA are celebrating their Diamond Jubilees, “commemorations that mark 60, 70, 75 and 80 years as a vowed Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. The milestone’s namesake has me reflecting on the gem itself. Before I joined community I went on a cruise to the Caribbean. Because many tourists purchase gemstones while traveling there, the cruise company offers information about them (including reputable places to shop) to passengers prior to docking at each port. Though I wasn’t in the market to buy diamonds I was interested in learning about what determines their value: clarity, cut, carat and color—the 4 Cs.

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I realized that I didn’t know what it takes to get to the end product, the examination of the 4 Cs. I began by turning to the internet and submitted the question “How is a diamond formed?” While much of what I read was quite technical and far beyond my simple curiosity, I closed the search engine with a bit more knowledge. Diamonds need pressure, heat and time to form naturally. It takes work to make them attractive. They do not emerge from the ground gleaming and ready for sale.


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Diamond jubilarians celebrated May 10 at Villa St. Joseph with Bishop Callahan

Each jubilarian has, in her own lifetime, experienced pressure, heat and time. There is resolve in ministry to do a lot with very little. Creativity and commitment to mission have guided each sister as she found ways to defuse heated situations that can occur, especially when working to promote Gospel tenants in which all those in need--not just a few--deserve care. Time is a gift each diamond jubilarian has had and not a minute has been wasted. Their lives of ministries have been in service to the whole spectrum of life from birth to death, serving generations of God’s people in schools, hospitals, parishes and spirituality centers (among others). Each encounter hones these women religious into sparkling gems.


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Fifteen diamond jubilarians were celebrated with Mass in Mary of the Angels Chapel on May 5

As I witnessed one of the recent FSPA diamond jubilee celebrations, watching the jubilarians process down the aisle of Mary of the Angels Chapel, the sun streamed through the stained glass windows and enlightened us to the gleaming examples they are as they live every day into their call to religious life. To conjure the image close your eyes and think of dazzling color and light dispelling all darkness, shining through a diamond. The commitment to prayer and service perpetually polishes their priceless lives. These are the diamonds we all can strive to imitate while retaining our own uniqueness. 

How is discernment glowing through you?

To shine like the diamond that you are, what rough edges do you need polished?

A new career in religious life?

Thursday, September 27th 2018 1:45 pm
Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Amy Taylor

 

A common question that surfaces in vocation is this: can I change careers while serving as a Catholic sister? 

Yes ... it is acceptable to discern a change of ministry in religious life! The spirit is always at work within you and often leads you to new experiences -- perhaps the opportunity to care for the underserved of society -- that respond to the needs of the times.

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Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Katie Mitchell has traveled a ministerial path from teaching to faith formation.

Discernment of changing careers in religious life takes place within community. Together with others, you will examine the necessity of transition and consider the next steps to new ministry. This is part of the co-creation that is possible when you say “yes” to God’s invitation to serve his people. It is in the everyday experiences of walking with others that your eyes may be opened to see unmet needs.

Sometimes, additional education or training is necessary to change careers in religious life. In other circumstances, an open heart and willingness to learn from wisdom figures around you will provide all that you need to transition to a new way of serving. Many Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have made ministerial moves as they've recognized their own unique gifts and talents to serve others.

It is impossible to predict what will unfold over the course of your life. Every day is an adventure and God is always full of surprises and invitations to grow and co-create with you. If you ask any sister, she will most likely say that her “yes” to religious life opened more doors than she ever imagined. 

*Like our new look? Stay tuned to Show me a sign for more surprises -- fresh reflections of the good news of vocations -- soon to come!

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

Sister Mary Ellen's Six Word Mission Story

Tuesday, June 13th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Mary Ellen Huebsch, FSPA

 

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

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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!

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

Following Francis: the margins may be closer than you think

Tuesday, October 4th 2016 3:19 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


dancing-francis-statue
Statue "Dancing Francis"

Each year on October 4 we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis: a day when many revel in the perpetual presence of a man said to be peaceful; a patron of ecology and advocate of animals (inspiring annual pet blessings around the world).

 

 

 

 





FSPA-supported free wellness screening for the underserved. 

But this year I invite you to venture away from the customary events—to go to the margins of his spirituality. Francis was not a perfect man with 20/20 vision. He had no intention of becoming a saint. Stepping out of his comfort zone through conversion he learned to embrace ministry to the lepers. The place of his greatest fear became the sweetness of service.

 

 

 

 

 





Sister Donna Stevens (center) serves White Mountain Apache substance abuse treatment center.

Among the lepers Francis saw the pain of ostracization by family, friends and faith communities. Yet he stretched out a mantle of care and compassion, casting aside the label “unclean” as he and his followers tended to the wounds of the afflicted, soothed to restore dignity to each person.


FSPA collaborates with U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (and other national/local groups) to eradicate modern day slavery.

Jesus does not promise a life of ease when following the call to discipleship. Gospel ministry requires long hours and challenging service. Encountering your brothers and sisters on the liminal edge—a space you may feel uncomfortable in—can challenge your values and compel you beyond your conscious. Each encounter with a life reality different than your own leads to greater understanding of humanity. On the Feast of St. Francis let us applaud the inspiration of the peace-keeper and ecologist; the patron of animals and founder of a religious order (here are the Gospel texts that guided the Franciscan Order formation: Mark 10:21Matthew 16:24 and Luke 9:3). But let us also accept his call today and everyday to search out those on the periphery. The margins may be closer than you think.

Sisters-serve-meals-to-homeless










Sisters serving meals to the homeless.

Who do you see outside the boundaries?
How will you reach out to these brothers and sisters in need?

How is St. Francis guiding you? Post a comment and inspire us!

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."

Trying on your metaphorical lenses

Thursday, October 20th 2016 3:23 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 


glasses-eye-chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of freeimages.com

A few days ago I went to my optometrist for my annual eye exam. I knew what to expect: cover one eye; read the chart; cover the other eye; repeat the process. 

Next the optometrist put me behind a machine that precisely defines vision: a series of lenses (beginning with blanks) through which letters are revealed in quick clicks back and forth in front of my eyes while the optometrist fires off rapid questions. Repeat the process.

It’s at this point in the procedure I hit sensory overload and could not tell the difference between one lens and the next. But I had to remind myself some experiences require quick decisions. I pushed myself to squint harder; to narrow the lenses down to two that seemed to work and appeared to be similar; both potentially the right fit. 

Religious discernment also calls for scrutinization and elimination and resolution—finding the right fit. If you get stuck, perhaps between two communities that invite your interest, unable to find your way forward, perhaps a simple list of pros and cons could be a helpful tool. You will have to decide what weight each item carries as these conclusions do not work themselves out as simple math equations. Prioritize your list. Evaluate your thoughts and look for patterns. For example: are you focusing too hard on where you will live on mission instead of how you will live in ministry? Are you willing to give in to indecisiveness and shut down the process completely?  

What happens when you are called to a conclusion; that there are perhaps two communities that speak to your sensibilities? It's time for a visit. Try on your metaphorical lenses. Look up close and personal into the community’s mission, governance and many more details to see what excites you.

And once you get there remember that stepping over the threshold to a Come and See doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment. It’s simply an opportunity for mutual discernment to begin; time for you to learn more about the community and the community—with its specific vision for mission— to learn more about you. Both parties have the right to decide if membership is a good fit or not. And other opportunities may appear: a vocation minister may suggest another community for you to explore after learning what you are looking for. It’s not a bad thing but a good opportunity for refining your discernment.

It takes courage to visit and even more to discern which way of religious life, if any, is right for you. Invite God into all the experience. Pray for wisdom and the Holy Spirit will guide you.

Are you brave enough to take the next step?

Is it time for you to send an email or pick up the phone?

 

Sister Amy Taylor is the FSPA director of membership. She invites you to call or write (1-888-683-3722 or membership@fspa.org) anytime!

 

"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?

Temptation and transformation in the desert

Thursday, February 22nd 2018 10:30 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


The Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent makes me imagine a movie trailer for a film directed by Mark. He sets a pithy scene in the desert, features a cast of characters that include Jesus, beasts, angels and Satan. Jesus is on the cusp of an encounter with temptation as the teaser abruptly ends. The scene that fades to black is literally and figuratively bleak, leaving viewers to anticipate a film with a gut-wrenching ending.

But of course we are met with a plot twist when the rest of Mark’s story comes out: the desert doesn’t really lead to nothingness, it’s actually lined with steppingstones to discovery. His time in what seems like a wasteland strengthens him and, in a surprising turn of events, leads to emergent momentum of his ministry.

desert-trail-by-sister-amy-taylor

Image by Sister Amy Taylor

Discernment of religious life invites each of us into our own metaphorical and perhaps even physical desert experiences. It’s a place of quiet austerity and simultaneous beauty, calling for revelation, commitment and creativity in a setting assumed to be isolated and daunting. Desolation can allow too much space in which temptation and deprivation can be found, but also make room for grace and gift.

As I prepared for my final vows, I found the desert was the perfect place to go on retreat. Walking in the dry climate, I was invited to be present in each step; cognizant of where my feet fell; watchful of snakes, scorpions and other desert wildlife that I don’t encounter in Wisconsin. Slowly, as I pondered the spectrum of colors that at first I only perceived as beige, the desert revealed some of its bright secrets. My fear of such “beasts” was transformed as I learned how these creatures help sustain the environment. Beauty of life, like the tiny flowers I discovered, flourished in what appeared to be a hostile climate.

desert-rocks-flowers-by-Sister-Amy Taylor

Image by Sister Amy Taylor

Jesus demonstrates that God guides us to explore the depths of a vocational discernment even in the most dreaded circumstances; is with us as we confront the temptations that threaten our fidelity to live in communion with God.

How is your fear or preconceived notion getting in the way of intentional discernment?

How has God surprised you and provided in your own “desert times?”

 

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


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