Viterbo University - Related Content

Sister Nancy Lafferty's Six Word Story

Tuesday, May 24th 2016 10:08 am
Sister Nancy Lafferty, FSPA


What's your six word discernment story?

Why mission matters: annual sponsorship conference

Wednesday, December 20th 2017 11:37 am
Why mission matters: annual sponsorship conference shines light on service today
Pat Kerrigan and Emilio Alvarez
Photo by Debra Kappmeyer
For the FSPA sisters, affiliates, prayer partners, sponsored organization staff members, Assisi pilgrims and guests present for the 28th annual sponsorship conference, there was a call to...

Service Saturday: mutuality at its core

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


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


Service Saturday students from Viterbo University at St. Rose Convent

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


A Viterbo student makes valentines for veterans with Sister Esther Leis

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


Two of the many pairs of mittens knitted that day

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

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

Discernment has such mutuality at its core.

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

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

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

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

Sharing wisdom with women discerning religious life ...

Thursday, July 18th 2019 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


"The world needs women and men to respond to the greatest needs of humanity."


Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Lorraine Forster 

For 75 years, Lorraine Forster has served as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration — a community of vowed Franciscan women engaged in furthering the work of the Gospel and the Catholic church.

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

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

Sister Lorraine:
It just seemed to be my way. I was taught by FSPA, and I also had a great aunt in the community.

Show me a sign:
How did your family react when you first told them that you wanted to be a sister?

Sister Lorraine:
They were pleased. Both sides of my family are devoted Catholics.


Sister Lorraine, ministering as a teacher of religious education 

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

Sister Lorraine:
The building of the FSPA-founded institution Viterbo University, the dedication of our nurses and teachers and the day I made my first profession of vows.  

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

Sister Lorraine:
Teaching children in secondary grades. I love youth and serving as a teacher to them.  

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

Sister Lorraine:
The world needs the joint effort of women and men to respond to its greatest needs — education, health care and serving the poor.

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

There's more to Sister Laura's discernment story ... [video]

Thursday, June 6th 2019 7:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


Infinite support for a daughter's choice, including religious life

The Show me a sign discernment video series continues with Sister Laura Nettles’ story, “How do I navigate my changing role as a daughter?”. In it, Sister Laura shares that her parents have given her one of the biggest, most powerful blessings a child could ever receive: “Throughout my life, they have been there for whatever I’ve chosen to do.” And that includes her decision to live and serve as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration.


Sister Laura teaches religious studies to Viterbo University students

With both the support of her parents and the FSPA community behind her, Sister Laura is ministering as an assistant professor of religious studies at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin. And she’s not just serving, she’s paying that blessing forward to those she teaches — backing them as they too navigate the road ahead. Twenty Viterbo students recently received such gift as they were led by Sister Laura on a trip to Italy, immersed in the impact of St. Francis and St. Clare along the path of serving as future Franciscan leaders. “There is essentially no better way to learn about the larger world, people and cultures than actually being there and living it through one of these experiences,” she shares in a story about the study-abroad trip. For this vision and the others she passes on to her students, Sister Laura was named Viterbo’s 2019 Teacher of the Year.


Sister Laura is honored as Viterbo University's 2019 Teacher of the Year (photo courtesy Viterbo University)

In case you missed it — or her discernment story is calling to you again — you can watch Sister Laura's video “How do I navigate my changing role as a daughter?” by clicking here. You can also revisit the other discernment stories in the Show me a sign video series -- those of Sisters Lucy, Sarah, Dawn and Jacinta!

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

Turn your back or open your arms to discernment?

Thursday, February 1st 2018 1:00 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


A fleece blanket, crafted and wrapped  with care for someone in need

Lori True composed and sings a wonderful song called “What Have We Done for the Poor Ones.” This past Saturday, FSPA sisters, Viterbo University students, staff and alumni took this question to heart as they spent the morning together making blankets, scarves, hats, cards, hygiene bags and affirmation jars to be given with care for those in need. For these volunteers, each project provided a personal pathway of understanding; a way to reach out to the forgotten and the vulnerable who Scripture reminds us to look out for. We are called to provide for the child removed from violent households, for the men and women who wander our streets with no place to call home, and the elderly who wait for a sign that they have not been forgotten. How would it feel to ceaselessly long for loving memories in a strange environment (instead of the horror of being pulled away from your family)? How would it feel to get frostbite because your coat can't fend off the bitter cold? How would it feel to endlessly sit, stranded in front of a window in a nursing home, praying for a sign that someone still cares you’re alive?

How do we see these neighbors as our brothers and sisters in Christ?


Sister Fran and students cut fabric for scarves


Hand-made hygiene bags filled by students for homeless teens


Sister Carrie Kirsch and a Viterbo student weave hats


Sisters Margaret Schmolke (left), students and Sister Margaret Wagner worked as a team to create a soft, warm blanket

The day called for all to weave together a sense of community support for those who are readily seen as suffering as well as for the hidden poor; to remember that the statistics we see on TV, newspapers and social media feeds are individuals — not nameless numbers from a census taken of a faceless population. Every digit is a flesh-and blood-person who has hopes and dreams for their futures too. When we put ourselves in the experience of others, compassion and care arise along with a desire to help. And we have a choice whether to see the suffering of humanity right in front of us ... or not. Will we live with eyes wide open or avert our glance, ignoring our brothers and sisters in need? 

Discernment also comes with this choice. Will you turn your back or open your arms to your call in life?

What will you do?

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

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