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Ticket sales now open for Where Hope Is: Stories of Benedictine Influence, a new interview-based theater production by playwright and SBA alum descendant Jenn Bokoch Gillett. The play reflects a snapshot-in-time—1960s to the 1980s—of the influence of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie created from a dozen conversations culled from more than 60 interviews conducted by Jenn with St. Benedict Academy (SBA) alumnae, Benedictine sisters, and others whose lives were shaped and are still being shaped by the sisters. Read more here. Get your tickets here. (SNEAK PREVIEW: Read an advance copy of an interview with Jenn and director Ashley Thaxton-Stevenson that will appear in the next issue of The Mount.)

Monastic Life Is...

Sister Valerie Luckey, Director of Emmaus Ministries, received the Distinguished Alumni Award from her alma mater, Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, on May 15. "It’s an honor to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from Saint Joseph’s University.

In honor of her years of dedication serving the Erie Community, the SONS of Lake Erie sponsored a resolution, passed by Erie City Council, dedicating East 11th Street between German and Holland Streets in Erie, Sister Mary Miller Way. A dedication ceremony was held on Monday, May 13, on the corner of East 11th and Holland.

Rabbi William G. Hamilton will deliver the fourth annual Art and Spirituality lecture at the monastery on Wednesday, May 22, at 7:30 p.m. Rabbi Hamilton will speak on, "Doing The Impossible: The Art of bringing Spiritual Goods to Life." The 2024 lecture by Rabbi Hamilton is free and open to the public.

Everyday Sacred, Everywhere Beauty: Readings From An Old Monks Journal, a new collection of Sister Mary Lou Kownacki's blog posts will be released in September. In hundreds of personal blog posts at Monasteries of the Heart she chronicled current events, reflections on her decades as a nun, stories of friends, poetry recommendations and profound insights on life’s purpose and mortality, including her own journey to her death from cancer on January 6, 2023.

When Erie Benedictine Sister Marian Wehler and Mercy Sister Tina Geiger, who minister together in Catholic Rural Ministry, presented a Tanzanian village’s need for “Life-Saving Water” to students in Lucinda, Clarion, and Oil City Catholic Schools during Lent last year, the students were eager to help. In a few weeks they collected over $1,250 for the villagers and this was matched by adults donations. Soon more donations poured in until more than $7,000 was raised for the “Life-Saving Water” by October 2023 when the project was to begin. Sister Marian lived and taught at a Catholic high school in Tanzania for seven years and has visited different countries in Africa on multiple occasions and so knows first-had of the need.

Sarah Joy Gaines, the first 2024 Joan Chittister Writer-in-Residence, spent the month of April living at the monastery and working on a proposal for a book about reclaiming the sacredness of the body. The proposal is also the culmination of her work on a Master's in Women, Gender, Spirituality, and Social Justice. “The book is the product of my graduate studies, inspired by my decade of experience in the wellness industry and my journey of healing my relationship with my body. We live in a world that teaches us to focus on how our bodies look — that our physical appearance is what gives us value. Along the way, we lose sight of the power and wisdom of our bodies. We forget that the body is divine itself. The book intends to guide people to reconnect with that sacred essence, innate within us all,” she said.

Monastic Formation Director Sister Ann Muczynski attended the North American Benedictine Vocation Formation Conference (NABVFC) Symposium in Schuyler, Nebraska, in April. She was one of twenty-seven Benedictine sisters in attendance. Sister Ann (far right) was elected Vice Chair of the Core Team 2024-2028. She will work with the other five sisters on the core team planning the future of NABVFC programs including the Novice and Director Institute and the Benedictine Sisters Workshop and Retreat. There are fewer sisters in initial monastic formation and therefore these kinds of programs directed toward new members will require creative revising.

Gannon Day of Caring Students, all members of the Gannon Women’s Soccer Team, offered their services for several initiatives of the Care for the Earth Committee in April.