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Sustaining the future of organic farming

Tuesday, May 23rd 2017 1:03 pm
Intern grows ecology forward
“The Villa garden and Sister Lucy ignited my love for growing good food!”
This is the perennially ripe and juicy fruit Bethanee Wright, a former Viterbo University student, harvested from her agriculture internship seven years ago in the care for creation that is FSPA...

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22nd 2016 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

Step boldly into National Vocation Awareness Week!

Friday, November 1st 2019 7:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

"Is God calling me to discern religious life as a sister, brother, priest or deacon?"

As we celebrate All Saints and All Souls, we remember that most of humanity has, at one time or another, wrestled with the question “Who am I called to be?” In celebration of National Vocation Awareness Week, Nov. 3 - 9, Show me a sign is inviting you to discern what is perhaps an emerging question: “Is God calling me to discern religious life as a sister, brother, priest or deacon?” 

Prayer, conversation, research and action are all important aspects of discerning a vocation. And so we invite you to do just that.

Pray:
We encourage you to pray and talk to God about your vocation. Commit to spending a specific time with God. Write it down. Don’t just think about taking time to pray, make it happen.  

two-women-altar-praying

Perpetual adoration – round-the-clock prayer that FSPA began in 1878 – is practiced in the St. Rose Convent Perpetual Adoration Chapel in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Discuss:
Talk with friends or family members you trust about what they see as your gifts and talents and the possibility that religious life could be a wonderful way for you to use them.  

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Sisters Jacinta Jackson, Sarah Hennessey, Dawn Kutt, Laura Nettles and Lucy Slinger support each other through discernment and beyond. Image courtesy of Vendi Advertising. 

Research:
The internet is a great tool for learning more about religious life. Here are some excellent websites to visit as you begin your journey of discovery. Be aware of the questions that come to your mind as you visit each site:

fspa.org
religiousministries.com
anunslife.org
usccb.org

Take action:
National Vocation Awareness Week is a big opportunity to take a bold step in your discernment by meeting a sister (or a brother, priest, or deacon) and discover how they live their vocation. Communicators for Women Religious is offering several opportunities for you to do just that throughout the week with the #2019 Meet Our Sisters Tour in Chicago, Illinois. Sister Kristin, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, will be at Su Casa Catholic Worker House (5045 S. Laffin St.) this Monday (4:30-7 p.m.), Tuesday (10-11:30 p.m.) and Wednesday (4:30 to 7 p.m.). Stop by to see her, learn more about Su Casa’s mission of hospitality and intentional community, and discover how religious sisters serve a society rooted in simplicity, free of violence, and abounding in love there.

And, stay tuned to Show me a sign as we celebrate National Vocations Awareness Week!

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.

Step boldly into vocation: Giving Voice

Tuesday, November 5th 2019 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Sharing Gospel living and the desire to "Live Religious Life NOW!"

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Nearly 80 women of over 40 congregations, including several FSPA, came together for the 2019 National Giving Voice Gathering (image courtesy of Sophie Vodvarka).

Religious life is a vibrant and wonderful way to further the mission of the Gospel just one of the reasons to celebrate as we honor National Vocation Awareness Week, Nov. 3 - 9. Today, I am living out this ministry as a member of the FSPA community vowed Franciscan women centered in Eucharist, committed to be loving presence through prayer, witness and service.

I am also sharing Gospel living with other women religious from around the world through my association with Giving Voice, a peer-led organization of religious women under the age of 50. Sisters gather from all different congregations to share in the joy of religious life and the many ways it flourishes around out world. They recently came together to celebrate — to “Live Religious Life NOW!”  and created this video to share their experience:

Watch it and ask yourself: Are you called to add your voice to the conversation of religious life?

National Vocation Awareness Week is a big opportunity to take a bold step in your discernment by meeting a sister (or a brother, priest, or deacon) and discover how they live their vocation. Communicators for Women Religious is offering several opportunities for you to do just that throughout the week with the #2019 Meet Our Sisters Tour in Chicago, Illinois. Sister Kristin, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, will be at Su Casa Catholic Worker House (5045 S. Laffin St., Chicago) today from 10-11:30 p.m. and Wednesday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Stop by to see her, learn more about Su Casa’s mission of hospitality and intentional community, and discover how religious sisters serve a society rooted in simplicity, free of violence, and abounding in love there.

And, stay tuned to Show me a sign as we continue to celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week!

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 Revolution of Goodness has begun

Wednesday, August 29th 2018 1:51 pm
FSPA Mission Assembly 2018 empowered more than 300 revolutionaries to kindness
They gathered, gloriously, around goodness. They weren’t classified as sisters, affiliates and guests but as equal discerners of goodness. They weren’t segregated as individual observers...

Intuition: an essential tool for home improvement and discernment

Thursday, September 28th 2017 2:00 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

To me, do-it-yourself home improvement projects always sound simple and I typically imagine completing whatever the task in a short amount of time; achieving the perfect final product. My calculations are definitely hit and miss. This past weekend’s to-do was hanging new curtains, both homey and specific the needs of preserving warmth and saving energy. With all of the necessary supplies on hand we began by reading the instructions for installing the decorative curtain rod. Just four “easy steps” were listed in tiny text with an accompanying diagram. 

After marking the wall and pre-drilling holes for the brackets we were excited to see quick progress, yet it soon came to a grinding halt with simultaneous mutterings of “What do you mean it doesn’t fit?” and “The directions don’t say anything about what to do if only one side of the extension rod fits.” Ha … so much for four simple steps and the promise that all required was included. Maybe we should have called in a professional! 

Finally, we took a moment to pause and breathe (and laugh a little); tossed aside the directions and shared ideas. Within five minutes, by drawing from intuition where the directions failed, the new curtains were hung (perfectly straight!) with care. It was truly a do-it-ourselves project.

curtain-floor-light-pixabay.com

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

The experience was a great reminder that there might not be specific instructions to complete the perfect household project or for building the future, discernment included. When the details of discerning religious life don’t fit exactly into your life as you think they should, simple tools like breathing and pausing and allowing time to find your own direction are essential. The article “Do-it-yourself discernment retreat” published in “VISION Vocation Network” offers a Sunday-through-Saturday guide (like “Don’t leave it to the experts”) with simple steps to help you learn invaluable cross-over skills, to blaze your own trails and build experiences to religious life.

This week, I invite you to think of the ways you’ve used the skills of discernment in your everyday context of life.

What happened when you relaxed and thought outside the box?

*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 Amy's 6 Word Story of Hope

Thursday, June 4th 2020 11:10 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


Discerning action, spreading strength in times of great need

Hope is more than a word: it is an invisible, nutrient-dense reservoir of strength, resiliency and creativity. Hope holds the dichotomy of present unrest and future peace. It is the hardy root of our prayer reaching deep into relationship with God who helps to nourish the brave new tendrils of growth. Sharing hope with one another germinates new possibilities. The winds of collaboration carry the precious, newly-formed seeds to new places, transforming the landscape of our world.

This Show me a sign blog post is the first in the new series "6 Word Stories of Hope" that features inspiration shared by many Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Their stories reflect FSPA's mission and vision, "prayer, witness and service," so critical to us all in this time of uncertainty.

We invite you to take their words of wisdom with you as you face each new day, opening yourself to new possibilities.

And perhaps these 6 Word Stories will enlighten you to discernment of religious life.

Stay tuned for more Show me a sign 6 Word Stories.

Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link, fspa.org/showmeasign, 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."

 

portrait-woman-glasses

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.

three-women-altar

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

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.

 Sister-Winifred-teaching

Sister Winifred teaching at Aquinas High School in her habit

 Sister-Laura-teaching

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.

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. 

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?

"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. 

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

 

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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?

Awake and ready in discernment?

Thursday, December 1st 2016 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Why is it that when we are excited about tomorrow it’s impossible to fall asleep? I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve watched the clock move slow as molasses towards morning and birthdays and holidays; community celebrations and time with family and friends. This past Sunday, as a church, we entered not only a new year but a season of waiting. The old adage circles in my mind: the more you wait the better it will be. While I am sure this is true sometimes, I can also be impatient and yearn to know now. My favorite Advent song is Patience, People by John Foley, SJ. It reminds me that how I wait is just as important as the waiting. 


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Photo by Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

Advent has a dual focus of anticipation and action. It takes a lot of hard work to prepare your heart for Christmas; more than fragrant words of holy intention. Making space takes effort. Under the softened warm glow of preparation is the commitment to make things happen. 

On the first Sunday of Advent we hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah and the Gospel of Matthew, each offering insight into this time of eagerness. Isaiah is the prophetic alarm clock awakening sleepy believers. With strong words he clamors above the din of lukewarm following. His message streams across divisions calling for unity and inviting us to walk in the ways of the Lord. Reverberations ring as the call for change clashes against the comforts of routine and acceptance. 

Where do you find yourself as you reflect on the sword and the plow? Are you willing to pound your sword into a plow to cultivate ground for your discernment and co-create with God?  

In the Gospel Matthew also shares sage advice: don’t be distracted and caught unprepared; be ready. When waiting, it’s easy to get distracted and lose focus. There may be less time than you think. 

For all the wisdom and guidance Isaiah and Matthew provide, what is your attitude, in discernment, as you wait on God? When was the last time you pleaded with God to show you the way … "Now!"? Did you shout in anger? Threaten with an ultimatum? Storm away; frustrated because your discernment seems perpetually unresolved? 

And so, this Advent, I invite you to take the opportunity to prepare your heart, to welcome the wakeful nights of uncertain discernment you’re experiencing right now. 

Are you willing, in this moment, to wait?

 


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