novice - Related Content

What did you say?

Thursday, November 2nd 2017 3:15 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

Image courtesy

Amidst the world news articles online I recently came across the lighter read “50 Unique Words and Phrases From Each State That Only Locals Understand.” As an avid traveler, I was curious to see if I had encountered any of the words and phrases. I clicked through the first few slides, finding some familiar, but most were words I’d never heard before.

The article triggered a memory of experience I had while visiting La Crosse, Wisconsin, when I was first discerning religious life with FSPA. A few sisters took me down to Riverside Park, along the Mississippi River, just a few miles from St. Rose Convent. They pointed out the various attractions including the friendship garden, fountains and statues; where to buy tickets to ride on the big paddle boat. One sister pointed across the park and said “Over there is the bubbler.” All I saw was a drinking fountain. We both had a good laugh and “bubbler” was formally introduced to me as Wisconsin-ease for “drinking fountain.”

Evangelical councils: “These are the vows and practice of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They are evangelical because they were taught and practiced by Jesus Christ in the gospels.” At the end of the novitiate period and formal acceptance, women in the incorporation process first make temporary vows of poverty, consecrated chastity and obedience. 

Charism: “Each religious community has a charism which is a purpose, mission, and spirit inspired by the community’s founder.” The charism of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration comes from distinct eucharistic reference and devotion, inherited from St. Francis and our founders.

Novice: “A novice is a person who is formally admitted to a religious institute to prepare for eventual religious profession.” For FSPA, the novitiate period is two years in length and incorporates learning about religious life, vows, theology, church documents, Franciscan studies and many more pertinent topics for this time of vow preparation. 

Perpetual vows: “… the final vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience a person takes in a religious institute.” Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who make perpetual vows do so during Mass — a public witness of consecration to God through their commitment of poverty, consecrated celibacy and obedience for life lived out in the context of FSPA community. 

Further traversing into a specific religious dialect — like that of the Franciscan family — vocabulary expands with terms like

-- Transitus: an annual Franciscan celebration marking the passage of St. Francis of Assisi from life on Earth to a life with God;

-- Pax et Bonum: Peace and All Good; and

-- common good: choosing action based not only on your own preferences but also taking into account the whole group or groups that will be affected by the decision.

Religious life is full of its own unique words and phrases, its own social dynamics that you’ll encounter because, as I did, you are journeying into a new culture. Also present are the plethora of cultures that many members of the community may have been raised in or ministered in.

Diversity is a gift, especially when we are willing to be curious and try to refrain from quick judgements.

This week, ponder how discernment is leading you to the edges of new cultures.

What are some of your cultural influences?

How does understanding some common definitions in religious life help you in your discernment?

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

Sister Beth: "Pay attention to your dreams and desires."

Thursday, June 13th 2019 7:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


"I love companioning people as they live into the fullness of God's invitation for their lives."



FSPA Golden Jubilarian Beth Saner, celebrating 50 years of vowed religious life

“The direction for your life,” says Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Beth Saner, “may be hiding in plain sight.” In celebration of her golden jubilee — 50 years of living vowed religious life, engaged in furthering the work of the Gospel and the Catholic church — Show me a sign shares some of Sister Beth’s soul-searching discernment story and the wisdom she offers to those beginning their own. 

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

Sister Beth:
I didn’t really 'know.' My best friend and I decided we would become sisters when we were 11 years old, probably because we were fascinated by the sisters we knew; their lives seemed so mysterious. We never really talked much about it after that until we were high school seniors.  She went to college intending to study medicine, and I chose to go to the convent.

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

Sister Beth:
I encountered mixed reactions. My mother was adamantly opposed, while my dad was quietly supportive. Everyone else was noncommittal. I didn’t say much to my friends until it was time to go but when I told them, they were supportive.

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

Sister Beth:
After 50 years, here are a few:

  • As a young religious, I was always energized and enthusiastic about the way religious life was evolving in response to Vatican II.  
  • I’ve found that community life is not always easy, but living, working and praying in community has been a rich and personally fulfilling experience for me.  
  • Opportunities for on-going education, both formal and informal, all for the sake of FSPA mission, are true gift.


Sister Beth (left), a member of the FSPA Incorporation Team, rejoices in the moment that Sister Michelle Petitt (right) becomes a novice.  

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

Sister Beth:
I’m lucky to have ministered in areas of my choice and that utilize my gifts and talents. I have loved my life of service, first as a teacher and liturgist at Viterbo University and then as a spiritual director and instructor in Chicago. I love companioning people as they live into the fullness of God’s invitation for their lives. That happened for me, both as a teacher and now as a spiritual companion.  

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

Sister Beth:
Pay attention to your dreams and desires. The direction for your life may be hiding there in plain sight.

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

Celebrating discernment, diversity, family and Francis

Friday, October 11th 2019 10:10 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


In Chicago, Franciscan formation families came together to honor St. Francis 



Residents of the FSPA formation house in Chicago include Sisters Helen Elsbernd, Sister Michele Pettit (novitiate), Sister Julia Walsh, Sister Corrina Thomas, FSPA novice director, and Sister Meg Earsley, novitiate (photo courtesy of Sister Julia Walsh, taken by Sister Eileen McKenzie).

It is vital to celebrate people and events that shape our culture. For Franciscans, October 3rd and 4th of every year serve as reminders of the life and death of St. Francis of Assisi. Each Franciscan congregation celebrates in a unique way, and our community held a celebration at our motherhouse, St. Rose Convent, in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Those of us living and ministering in the area gathered on the evening of Oct. 3 in Mary of the Angels Chapel for Transitus — a special prayer service honoring the passing of St. Francis from death into eternal life, followed by a reception. The celebration continued the next day as we honored the life of St. Francis at a Mass commemorating his death. Sisters and FSPA staff then gathered to share fellowship over lunch.  

Simultaneously, Transitus and Feast of St. Francis celebrations were held wherever FSPA live and minister. Adding to the joyfulness this year is a new community formation house in Chicago, Illinois, where our canonical novices are living and studying, guided by Sister Corrina Thomas, FSPA novice director, and other members of the community. The novitiate phase of discernment is two years, a time in which novices learn more about the church, the community’s constitution, and vows of celibacy, obedience, and poverty. Novices spend time integrating Franciscan values into their lives.

Show me a sign was curious to find out how our formation house members celebrated the Feast of St. Francis, so we caught up with Sister Meg Earsley, an FSPA novice who recently moved to Chicago to live and discern as a there.  

Show me a sign: 
How did you celebrate Transitus and the Feast of St. Francis — your first Franciscan feast day away from St. Rose?  

Sister Meg:
Our formation house decided to join other Franciscan communities to celebrate. Here in Chicago, there are several religious congregations that we attend classes with at Chicago Theological Union. We also attend classes with others in the Inner Community Novitiate. It’s a collaborative learning endeavor established to educate women and men who are in the process of becoming members of religious congregations. We were invited to several celebrations through our connections with them.

We honored Transitus with the formation community of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars. The prayer service was incredibly moving: they carried a Franciscan habit laid across a stretcher as if it were the body of St. Francis and sang some of the ancient chants from his canonization. The church was filled with Capuchin Franciscans, our formation house community, other religious community members and parish members. After the prayer service, we all went to the parish hall for food, fellowship and the opportunity to meet others.

Show me a sign: 
How did you celebrate the Feast Day of St. Francis?

Sister Meg: 
We began with our daily morning prayer in the chapel space of our formation house and continued in a unique way: we invited Most Reverend Joseph N. Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, to come and meet with us about the possibility of having the Blessed Sacrament in our chapel. He toured the space and granted us permission. We are really happy to have this blessing in our formation house.  


Traditional St. Francis Day almond cookies, baked by Sister Meg (photo by Sister Meg Earsley)

After the departure of Bishop Perry, we visited the Order of Friars Minor’s formation house. We know these novices and their formation community because they also participate in our classes. I baked almond cookies, a Franciscan tradition, to share. (There is a story about St. Francis: as he lay dying, he asked his friend Lady Jacoba to come for one last visit and bring the almond cookies that he liked.) We celebrated Mass and enjoyed dinner, including the almond cookies, together. One of the OFM novices was a chef before entering religious life and continues to use his gift by cooking for his community.  

Show me a sign: 
It sounds like you had a great celebration with many friends and new acquaintances. What a blessing it is that you are experiencing the diversity of the Franciscan family. I think St. Francis would be happy, as many stories of his life are about companionship with people and the centrality of prayer. You honored both in your two-day celebration in Chicago!

Here are some questions for all of us, including discerners, to ponder:

  • What are some of the traditions that your local parish community celebrates?
  • Is there a particular saint that has been inspirational in your faith life? 
  • How do you celebrate their feast day?  
  • What are some of the traditions that your local parish community celebrates?

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

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