For Audrey, spirituality is part of what it means to be human and fully alive. She is curious about how spirituality is impacted by culture and family, personality and generational differences, and life transitions. For many years, she has designed and led programs that deal with the role of faith in everyday life situations, Christian spiritual practices and scripture. Audrey's educational background includes a B.A. from Colorado State University in Technical Journalism, a MPH from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in Community Health Education and a M.A. in Pastoral Ministry from St. John's School of Theology, Collegeville, Minnesota. She joined the staff of the Franciscan Spirituality Center in 2012 and became the FSC's director in 2013.
Associate Director/Spiritual Director
Steve first became involved at the FSC when he joined a spiritual direction group that was offered to Lutheran clergy. He has since been a grateful participant in many of the Center's offerings, including the Spiritual Director Preparation Program. Prior to joining the staff of the FSC, Steve was a stay-at-home parent, helping his young daughter overcome challenges related to autism. Steve facilitates several spiritual direction groups and also is available to meet with individuals. He is amazed to discover all of the ways that God is speaking in his life, and grateful to walk with others as they make similar discoveries. Steve has an undergraduate degree from North Dakota State University and graduate degrees from Washington State University and Luther Seminary. He previously has served as pastor to Lutheran (ELCA) congregations in Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin. His wife, Jeannette, is a physician at Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse.
Laurie joined the staff at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in January 2014 as the office manager. Previously, she worked for the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration as the executive secretary for their leadership team. Originally from Bangor, Wisconsin, she grew up in a large family, the youngest of 12 children. Laurie graduated from Western Technical College with an administrative assistant degree in 1985. She has lived in La Crosse since 1992, raising her two children. In her free time, she loves volunteering, art and enjoying live, local music.
Rose Elsbernd, FSPA
Sister Rose continues to be privileged to journey with others in their search for meaning and purpose as a director in spiritual direction and in personal directed retreats. Through the FSC's Spiritual Direction Preparation Program, she also mentors others to be redemptive listeners. She joined the staff in 2014 with the experience of serving as a director of two different retreat centers for a total of 18 years. As a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, she ministered on the leadership team and in the incorporation of new members. She has a master's degree in religious education and one in counseling. Her hobbies include baking and sewing, as well as spending time outdoors.
Spirituality and creative practices have always gone together in Deb’s life. In her roles as spiritual companion, retreat director and a part of the Spiritual Direction Preparation Program’s core team, she encourages and supports others on their journeys toward greater spiritual depth and wholeness through a variety of spiritual and creative practices. Deb has joint Bachelor of Art degrees in theology and the humanities, as well as a master’s degree in theology. Personal creative/spiritual practices include photography, weaving, knitting, reading, journaling and baking bread. Deb also loves to walk in the beauty of creation with her husband, Glenn.
Sarah Hennessey, FSPA
Sister Sarah officially joined the staff of the Franciscan Spirituality Center in August 2019, but her involvement with the FSC goes back several years. Sarah trained to be a spiritual director through the FSC’s Spiritual Direction Preparation Program and served on the FSC’s board of directors from 2016-19. She has been a frequent participant in many of our programs and looks forward to leading some of her own. Sarah moved to La Crosse in 2002 to become a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration after a long journey of discernment. She was raised as a Quaker in the South, and her diverse experiences before making her religious vows include teaching at a Navajo high school, translating Spanish at a free medical clinic, serving as a health educator in farm labor camps, tending a daylily farm and leading junior high inner-city immersion experiences. She previously served as the perpetual adoration coordinator at St. Rose Convent. As a spiritual director, she companions people to find the holy in the ordinary. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious studies and a Master of Arts degree in theology from St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minnesota. She enjoys singing, long walks in the wilderness and making some of the best popcorn around!
Program and Retreat Coordinator
Jean joined the FSC staff in September 2017. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in social work and a Master of Divinity degree. Jean has lived in the La Crosse area for the past decade and is grateful to be able to raise her family in this beautiful part of the country. Her family consists of her husband, Matt, two children, and a very mischievous chocolate Lab named Gander. In her spare time, Jean enjoys spending time on the river, reading and playing ping pong whenever the opportunity arises. Jean is excited to be a part of the mission here at the FSC!
Rika was drawn to La Crosse because of its scenic beauty, and she moved to the area in August 2018 to assume the role of development director for the Franciscan Spiritualty Center. Previously, she served as senior director of International Advancement and Leadership Gifts for Miami University of Ohio. With an MPA in nonprofit administration from Indiana University and more than 30 years’ experience working in the nonprofit sector, Rika is excited to be raising support for FSC’s meaningful and needed mission. Originally from the St. Louis area and with two grown children, Rika also looks forward to exploring the area with her dog, Maggie. In her spare time, when she’s not participating in one of the FSC’s many programs, Rika owns/manages vacation rental properties and writes for a travel magazine.
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Stacey joined the staff at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in August 2014 after a long career in journalism at the La Crosse Tribune. Primarily a copy editor, she also wrote a local business column and reported on faith issues for some time, which introduced her to the FSC and its wonderful programming. Stacey coordinates the FSC's print and electronic promotional materials, social media presence, advertising initiatives and media relations, and very much enjoys introducing others to all the FSC has to offer. Stacey lives just outside of La Crosse with her husband, John, three children and an assortment of pets. She is a very active volunteer in her parish, St. Elias Orthodox Christian Church, and personal interests include art, music, iconography, books, kayaking and organic food.
Zoua joined the staff at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in 2012 to work full time as the receptionist for the front desk and to support the staff with a variety of administrative duties. Prior to her work at the FSC, Zoua worked for the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration for six years. In 2010, she completed her studies at Western Technical College with an Associate in Applied Science degree in the Administrative Professional program. In her free time, she enjoys crafting, cooking, biking and walking. Zoua appreciates working alongside the staff at the FSC and loves greeting the people who walk through the doors each day.
Elizabeth Kapanke started her administrative duties with the FSC in August 2012 but had been part of the housekeeping staff of the St. Rose Complex since February 2012. She was drawn to the FSC for its peaceful and friendly environment. Born and raised in California, Elizabeth moved to La Crosse after meeting and marrying her husband, Andrew. She was a stay-at-home mom for 20 years, raising their two sons and two daughters, and has been an active volunteer at their church and school. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys spending time outdoors, boating, camping, gardening, photo scrapbooking, sewing and crocheting. She looks forward to contributing to the FSC's positive and welcoming mission.