Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration

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Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
Formation 1849
Type religious institute
Headquarters La Crosse, Wisconsin
Sister Linda Mershon

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) is a Roman Catholic religious congregation for women whose motherhouse, St. Rose of Viterbo Convent, is in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in the Diocese of La Crosse. The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration founded Viterbo University and staffed Aquinas High School in La Crosse.[1] The congregation traces its roots to 1849.


Maria Angelorum Chapel

In March 13, 1849, six women and five men, lay people, along with Father Francis Anthony Keppeler and his assistant, Father Mathias Steiger, of the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption, Ettenbeuren, Bavaria, set sail for America with eleven Third Order Secular Franciscans, to assist Bishop J. Martin Henni in the newly organized diocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Arriving at the diocese on May 18, 1849, the six women in the group, with Mother Aemiliana Dirr as their leader, committed themselves to founding a religious community to spread the gospel among German immigrants, especially through educating children, caring for the disadvantaged, and, when possible, establishing perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.[2]

In 1855 the sisters assumed care and education of orphaned boys at St. Aemilian’s Orphanage for Boys, built by the Milwaukee diocese.[2]

Diverted from education to household duties at the newly built diocesan St. Francis Seminary in 1856; and overwhelmed with physical labor, and finding themselves unable to develop a truly religious life, in 1860 the founders left the community. In 1864 the sisters and their newly elected leader, Mother Antonia Herb, established the motherhouse at St. Coletta Convent in Jefferson, Wisconsin. In 1871 the motherhouse was re-located to St. Rose of Viterbo Convent in La Cross at the request of Bishop Michael Heiss of La Crosse.[2] The Maria Angelorum Chapel is on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1873, Mother Antonia, believing that Seminary work was not an appropriate ministry for her sisters, asked the sisters in Milwaukee to discontinue that work. Thirty-seven sisters chose to remain in Seminary ministry. They became the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi.[3] The community in LaCrosse became known as the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.[4]

The Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist were formed as a separate congregation on December 2, 1973, as a result of a period of renewal leading to a divergence of vision within the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.[5]

Present day[edit]

In 1890 the sisters began St. Rose Normal School to prepare sisters to teach in elementary schools. It is now known as Viterbo University, a Catholic, Franciscan, liberal arts university.[6]

In 1955 the FSPA arrived on Guam, where they serve in the Archdiocese of Agana. Their encompass work at the Catholic Medical Center (FHP) as staff and coordinators; Guam Memorial Hospital as administrator, directors, and volunteers; Catholic Schools as superintendent, administrators, and teachers; and Parish Ministers.[7]

Common Venture program[edit]

Under the "Common Venture", is a cooperative effort on the part of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi in Milwaukee, and the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in Meriden, Connecticut. "Common Venture" grew out of a 1999 150th anniversary celebration of the common founding of the three American Franciscan communities. Together they have contributed more than $1.5 million in goods and services to the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis in Cameroon. Sr. Marla Lang FSPA compared the role of the sisters in Cameroon to that of sisters in the United States in the late 19th century. “The systems of health care and education are being built up through religious orders. The sisters are pioneers for the people in their country."[8]

Perpetual Adoration[edit]

In 1878, the community initiated the practice of Perpetual Adoration. Since then at least two persons have been praying day and night in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart.[7] In 2014, the congregation marked over 135 years of Perpetual Adoration, supported by "prayer partners". In 1997, after the numbers of sisters had declined from 781 in 1980 to 263, the sisters reached out to volunteers to help. Compiling prayer requests from all over the world, the sisters assemble a pamphlet of names and intentions for each week.[9][10]

The Sisters are a sponsoring member of 8th Day Center for Justice.

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have their retirement home in St. Joseph's Ridge, Wisconsin.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The History of Aquinas High School
  2. ^ a b c "FSPA History", Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
  3. ^ Cardinal Stritch University
  4. ^ "History", Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi
  5. ^ "Our Founding Story". Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "History". Viterbo University, La Crosse, Wisconsin.
  7. ^ a b "Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration celebrate modern lives and sacred traditions", Umatuna Si Yu'Os, Archdiocese of Agana
  8. ^ Griffin, Beth (February 27, 2010). "Sharing the spirit of Francis and Clare". National Catholic Reporter.
  9. ^ Anderson, Patrick B. (July 29, 2013). "Prayer Partners help sisters with perpetual adoration". La Crosse Tribune.
  10. ^ Johnson, Annysa (May 6, 2009). "For Franciscan sisters, every day is prayer day". Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.

External links[edit]