FSPA Affiliation Work Pulls Michael Krueger Back into Viterbo Orbit

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

When Michael Krueger was honored with Viterbo’s Young Alumni Award 10 years ago, he was actually still a student at the university.

Krueger graduated magna cum laude in 2010 with his bachelor’s degree, a double major (ministry and Spanish) with a minor in Latin American Studies, but when he was honored with an alumni award in 2013 he was working on his second Viterbo degree, a Master of Arts in Servant Leadership, which he received in 2015.

These days Krueger is practically on the Viterbo campus again. He has an office just across the street from Viterbo in St. Rose Convent, where he serves as director of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration affiliation program.

So what is FSPA affiliation? Here’s how the FSPA describes it:

“Affiliates seek opportunities to deepen their faith and spirituality, gather together in community and support one another through building relationships, being rooted in prayer and living out the gospel in their own lives and in response to the needs of the world today. They are people who seek to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare—seeking how their story can become a part of our own story while being shaped and informed through the charism of the FSPA.”

Becoming an affiliate can take anywhere from one to three years. Krueger began the process soon after he graduated from Viterbo. “I was looking for a way to stay connected to the Sisters and the Franciscan values at Viterbo,” he explained. “Affiliation turned out to be a great way to stay connected. Through affiliation you really get to understand the depth of Francis.”

While he was a Viterbo student, Krueger had a very strong connection with the Sisters, even though their presence on the faculty roster was a far cry from what it once was. Krueger got to know many FSPA members because for five years he had a part-time job washing dishes at St. Rose Convent, including a year after he graduated.

Michael Krueger Place of Grace
Just after graduating from Viterbo in 2010, Krueger became the Place of Grace house coordinator.

At the same time he was embarking on his FSPA affiliation journey, Krueger also was deeply involved in the Catholic Worker House community through A Place of Grace. He first got involved there as a junior after returning from a semester studying in Peru, and after graduation he took on house coordinator duties.

“For me, affiliation and the Catholic Worker house were two important parts of having a connection to a faith community,” said Krueger, who grew up in Greendale, a village in southwestern Milwaukee County.

After his time at A Place of Grace, Krueger worked in homes for adults with developmental disabilities, first in Chicago for a year and a half and then in La Crosse, where he served as coordinator for a Catholic Charities home called The Dwelling Place. He also has worked in campus ministry at Edgewood College in Madison, as a social worker for Inclusa, and, after the pandemic hit, a job he loved a lot—stay-at-home dad.

Krueger and his wife, Hailey (Karls-Lange), whom he met at Viterbo, have two children: Clara and Isaac. Hailey also has two Viterbo degrees, a bachelor’s degree in biopsychology (with writing minor) earned in 2010 and a master’s degree in mental health counseling earned in 2021. They live between Genoa and Viroqua, and these days she works for the Employee Assistance Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, mostly virtually.

While it’s hard to top the job satisfaction of being a stay-at-home father, Krueger’s current work for the FSPA affiliation program would come close. “It’s been truly wonderful to have the opportunity to give back to the Sisters,” he said. “I feel very blessed to be in this position in this community doing this work.”

The FSPA affiliation program, which began 40 years ago, now has roughly 250 affiliates across the country, a widely diverse group of people who don’t necessarily have religious affiliation in common. “One thing that draws people is it’s ecumenical,” Krueger explained. “The key component of affiliation is having relationships with like-minded people grounded in Franciscan spirituality. The FSPA is grounded essentially in goodness. It’s a faith that isn’t black and white but has the whole spectrum of life circumstances. People always feel as though they are being welcomed.”

Another draw for affiliates is a passion for one or more of the missions at the core of the FSPA mission today, such as ecological sustainability, human trafficking, immigration, and homelessness.

Affiliates meet monthly with their “companion communities,” of which there are almost three dozen, including two that meet virtually, and there are two larger gatherings per year.

As people go through the process of FSPA affiliation, they’re paired with a mentor, either another affiliate or a Sister. (Krueger’s mentor was Dorothy Dunbar, FSPA.) They also come to the St. Rose Convent to live in community for a week with the Sisters before the final commitment ceremony.

Although he’s under no pressure to grow the affiliation program, Krueger would like to see more younger affiliates for some demographic balance and to help the program’s continuity. Given their proximity to the FSPA mothership, having more Viterbo students becoming affiliates make sense.

“It’s really open to anyone,” he said. “If you want to be part of it the invitation is there.”

Between his FSPA affiliation and his new job, you might think Krueger has hit his Franciscan peak.


In December, he will portray St. Francis at Rotary Lights in a salute to the 800th birthday of the creche, introduced by St. Francis in Greccio, Italy, in 1223.