“Whether there are 158 members or 12,” shares Anna Taylor, who the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration welcome as a candidate for the congregation, “that common purpose of sharing life in the quest for God remains.”
To begin her pursuit of God and communal commitment to be loving presence through prayer, witness and service with the members of FSPA, Anna has moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, to live in the congregation’s formation community on the Motherhouse campus. Her journey to La Crosse began in Berea, Kentucky, where she grew up and graduated from Berea College with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. “Post-graduation, I committed to a year of service and moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota, to participate in the Franciscan Community Volunteers, a former ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls.” Anna’s service site was Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, where she assisted Spanish-speaking individuals apply for health insurance programs through the state.
Anna also joined the Catholic Church, a decision influenced by the transformation and deepening faith she experienced during her time with FCV. “I didn’t know much about the Catholic Church growing up in a heavily Protestant town. But living with sisters from the Little Falls community and attending the local Newman Center during my FCV years, I saw the breadth and depth of the Catholic faith, and I wanted to be a part of it too.” Anna stayed in Minnesota after her time with FCV ended and was hired by Legal Aid.
But Anna didn’t stray far from Franciscanism. She continued to live with the Little Falls Franciscans on and off over the years, and she found herself “happy being with others who valued having God as a priority in their lives and who could communally appreciate the liturgical calendar more deeply than I could on my own.” Within this deepening, Anna also discovered a yearning to religious life.
The discernment process didn’t come easy. “I had been actively discerning religious life since I became Catholic, but was frequently distracted by the workload at my job and other commitments.” Finally, in late fall of 2021, Anna took a leap of faith. “I quit my job and went on an adventure with God.” Over the course of a year, she visited several Benedictine Monasteries, living and volunteering for a few months at each. She also visited FSPA in La Crosse for an extended Come & See, an experience that included an icon retreat, adoration with the sisters at St. Rose Convent and attending the 2022 FSPA Mission Assembly — “A Revolution Through Encuentro: Our Journey Into Oneness.”
It was then that Anna had an “aha moment.” She recalls Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Julia Walsh, the community’s minister of discerners (pictured below with Anna), “mentioning several times in past conversations that ‘FSPA supports its members in fully becoming who God calls them to be.’” Given the chance to meet many sisters personally, Anna “started to taste what that felt like.
“I felt supported in setting boundaries by so many of the sisters. I didn’t feel like I had to spend energy to protect my energy, but rather I was free to honor my needs by taking some quiet time or having clarifying conversations. When I feel supported by respect and open communication and people who can hold an atmosphere of respectful play, my energy is free to allow me to be me; to be creative, caring and present.”
Now in the candidacy phase of the congregation, Anna is continuing to develop personal spirituality; learning FSPA history, traditions, Franciscan spirituality and values; and working within and experiencing community life. She is excited to embrace the FSPA commitments to Relationships, Gospel Living and Unity in Diversity. “My years living with the witness of religious sisters of other communities and working with undocumented individuals at Legal Aid has taught me to value these FSPA priorities. When we remember how freely Christ embraced minority to be with us, both as a baby and in plain ordinary bread in the Eucharist, we really don’t have an excuse to dismiss those on the margins. And it can be overwhelmingly hard work, but with community to support each other, I believe it is possible.
“With FSPA I feel a firm, communal foundation and have found many life-giving people that will allow me to be life-giving to others.”
FSPA welcomed Anna during a ceremony on Jan. 28, 2023.