Newsmakers, December 14, 2017

Air Date:
Heard On Newsmakers
Joe Kruse, Sister Karen Lueck, Dr. Tim Johnson
Joe Kruse, Sister Karen Lueck, Dr. Tim Johnson

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration started the first hospital and what would become the La Crosse area’s first college in the late 1800s to meet a need in the community.

Now the order of nuns, known for among other things praying for the world 24/7 from their La Crosse convent, is planning to give up sponsorship in Mayo Clinic-Franciscan Healthcare, Viterbo University and a small hospital and nursing home in Carroll, Iowa by mid-2018 to focus on other social justice issues.

“As our numbers have gotten somewhat smaller, it’s not about staffing catholic institutions anymore, it’s about seeing where the needs are,” said FSPA President Sister Karen Lueck. “Our younger members who are joining our community are people that are looking for ‘how do we meet the needs of the poor or the marginalized?’”

In 1890, the FSPA founded St. Rose Normal school to help train nuns to become teachers to fill a need in catholic parishes.

In 1940, they admitted the first laywoman to what would become Viterbo University. In 1970, the school became a coed institution and has been known for years for producing teachers, nurses, business leaders and fine arts professionals.

The FSPA founded St. Francis hospital in La Crosse in 1883 at the request of the community to serve the needs of workers.

The La Crosse area hospital and clinic merged with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in 1995 and became what’s now known as Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare.

“There’s more that will stay the same than will change. We still want to honor and imbue our culture with the Franciscan values that the sisters have passed on to us,” said Joe Kruse, Mayo’s administrative chair for southwestern Wisconsin. “It is a very significant event in the history of the organization. There is a sense of loss that comes with this.

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are giving up oversight of the three organizations, but members will continue to serve as board members. They are also working to create special ministries that will allow Viterbo University and St. Anthony’s in Iowa to maintain their catholic identities.

The move will free up more time for FSPA members to devote to working on social issues in the La Crosse area that they’ve already been working on like human trafficking, the environment, homelessness and mental health issues.

“We’re not doing much alone anymore. It’s always with other people,” Lueck said. “I think that is a real message to our world today. Can we collaborate? Can we work together and make something good happen? That’s what I think our goal is.”

The transfer of oversight still needs approval from the Vatican.

They are hoping to complete this by July 1, 2018.

Episode Credits

  • Hope Kirwan Host
  • John Davis Producer
  • Sister Karen Lueck Guest
  • Dr. Tim Johnson Guest
  • Joe Kruse Guest