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Residents of the Benedictine Sisters' Benetwood Apartments recently joined the sisters for prayer and dinner. This annual event celebrates the relationship of friends and neighbors between the two living communities.

The September 2023 issue of Emmaus Ministries' The Companion is available in PDF format.

Throughout Laudato Sí Pope Francis offers insights that can help us understand and implement Goal 4 from the International Action Platform.

The Feast of All Saints on November 1 and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (commonly known as All Souls Day) on November 2 are times when we pause to remember all these members of our community, our personal communion of saints, living and deceased.

The Benedictine Sisters proudly presented their 2023 Prophet of Peace Award to environmental advocate and educator Doreen Petri on September 20.

Mother Blandyna Michniewicz, OSBap, Abbess of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament Monastery in Warsaw, Poland, presented a first-hand account of the tragedy of the war in Ukraine to sisters and guests at the monastery.

Sister Mary Therese Egan, OSB, 85, died on Saturday, September 16, 2023, at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Read prayer and obituary>>>

The 2023 Taste of the Arts Neighborhood Art House annual fundraiser, "Sights and Sounds of the Art House," brought together young artists and performers, staff, sisters, friends, donors, and guests to celebrate an evening of beauty and hope "under the tent" in the Art House parking lot.

Woodturner Sister Audrey Steff was recently awarded a lifetime membership in the Presque Isle Woodturners--an organization of which she was a founding member 25 years ago. “There are only three of the original founding members remaining,” she explained. “And one of them thought that founding members should no longer have to pay dues.”

Sister Carolyn reflects on two very significant dates in 2001.

In September we celebrate the Season of Creation ( and Labor Day. It’s a good time to consider the third goal of Laudato Sí, Ecological Economics.

Goat Fest 2023 drew several hundred people--parents, children, adults, friends and neighbors--to Glinodo for a couple hours of outdoor fun and education on a unique way to care for our environment.

Erie News Now invited Sister Jacqueline Sanchez-Small for an interview focused on the invasive-species eating goats at Glinodo and Saturday's Goat Fest.

The Glinodo Goat Fest is free and will take place on Saturday, August 26 from 1-3:30 p.m. The event is family-friendly, and will include a storybook trail, nature art, snacks, and games.

Thank you to sponsors, golfers, volunteers, and sisters who made the Erie Benedictine's Sister Mary Lou Kownacki Memorial Golf Tournament a terrific event.

The Trinity Square Foundation recently sponsored a block party at the East 22nd Street Poetry Park in honor of Sister Mary Lou Kownacki and Sister Mary Miller, the creators of the park, who both died earlier this year. Their memory was honored with a new plaque that was installed in the park. A tree was planted in Sister Mary's honor--last year one was planted for Sister Mary Lou.

Neighbors, family and friends of Mary and elk for an afternoon of food, fun, music, and poetry.

Please join us in prayer for homicide victim William Rickert on Monday, August 21, 5:15 p.m., 1142 East 26th Street, Erie, the site where he was murdered on May 14.

Family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors of Quran Wesley Sims gathered at the site where he died of multiple gunshot wounds last June 3 to reclaim the site for nonviolence.

New podcast from Sister Carolyn. Where have the thousands of days in your life taken you?

Development office staff Sister Linda Romey, Michelle Scully and Michelle Basista attended the Erie Community Foundation's Parking Lot Party to mark Erie Gives Day.

The Benedictine Sisters celebrated four sisters on the 60th anniversary of their monastic profession: Sisters Mary Ellen Cummings, Marcia Sigler (seated) and Pat Lupo and Annette Marshall standing. They are pictured with Sister Stephanie Schmidt, prioress, seated in the center.

This month we celebrate! August is an ideal month to celebrate Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Sí, On Care for Our Common Home. In #12 of Laudato Sí we read, "Saint Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the creator of such beauty. Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise."

Mother Blandyna Michniewicz, OSBap, Abbess of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament Monastery in Warsaw, Poland will present a first-hand account of the tragedy of the war in Ukraine at Mount St. Benedict Monastery and virtually on August 31.

In a special expression of gratitude, the Benedictine Sisters thanked all the good people who work at the monastery and help them carry out their good works, at the annual Employee Recognition picnic.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Benedictine Sisters 2023 Annual Draw fundraiser. You helped us make our goal of $42,000--funds that help support monastic life in Erie and the good works that grow out of our commitment to be a monastic presence in Erie.

Benedictines for Peace sponsored a Silent Peace Walk at the site of the United Electrical Workers strike at the Wabtec plant in Erie. Strikers joined sisters, oblates, and friends for the 20-minute silent walk/prayer for peace.

Prioress Sister Stephanie Schmidt was interviewed for local PBS station WQLN's Chronicles series "Houses of Faith" part three.

This Sunday July 16 BINGO sponsored by the SBA Alumnae Association. Bring a toy for a child at St. Benedict Child Development Center and get a free bingo card. Bingo at Polish Falcons, 431 East 3rd, Erie. Doors open at noon.

Help the Benedictine Sisters of Erie partner with Let’s Goat Buffalo to give rescue goats purpose doing what they love best: eating invasive plants. Save our trees and give these goats a second chance with your gift.

The newest issue of the United States Secretariat of the Alliance for International Monasticism newsletter is available in PDF format.

Sister Mary Miller helped to plant the seed for Emmaus Grove Urban Farm in 2013. The garden grows and thrives thanks to two Master Gardeners who coordinate the site, volunteers who provide upkeep for the garden’s raised beds, and dependable benefactors, such as AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania.

Erie Benedictines collaborate with PennFuture's Erie Office working on Clean Water Advocacy. Read their first newsletter.

“Lemonade! Lemonade! Come and get your lemonade!” 8-year-old Kids Cafe participants Roia and Gladness chanted, behind the counter of the lemonade stand they were staffing on East 10th Street.

Is there a connection between this and the goal we considered last month, Response to the Cry of the Earth? Absolutely. Chapter Two in Laudato Sí, The Gospel of Creation, considers sections of Scripture and explores the wisdom found in considering the relationship between humans and nature.

Five Erie Benedictines participated in the Blasco Memorial Library's Read-In "to reaffirm the importance of free and equal access to materials representing all children and families." Pictured are Sisters Jacqueline, Stephanie, Kathy, Colleen, and Therese.

Katie Gordon recently presented on a panel at the Federation (now Monastic Congregation) of St. Gertrude General Chapter in Beech Grove, Indiana. Gordon, who lives with the Erie Benedictine community at Pax Priory, and works with Monasteries of the Heart, presented alongside “seasoned monastic” Teresa Jackson, OSB (Cottonwood, ID), “younger monastic” Kathleen Marie Cash, OSB (Ferdinand, IN), and Jane Somerton, OblSB (Cottonwood, ID).

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie support the United Electrical Workers Union in their strike. There are many issues at stake in the controversy between Wabtec Corporation and UE Locals 506 and 618 in Erie, but two stand out as especially important (from the UE website):

   • The union wants to ensure that workers will have the right to strike in the future, in order to ensure that grievances between the workers and the company can be settled fairly. 
   • Also, workers want to pivot toward making green locomotives, which will dramatically lower the carbon footprint of the production. The change to producing green locomotives is also projected to create thousands of jobs.

July's Second Saturday at the Benedictine Sisters Inner-city Neighborhood Art House features artwork that you can wear. Join us from 10 am-12 pm for tie-dying and jewelry making activities.

Oblate Kelly Adamson, seated at left, served as retreat leader for the 2023 Erie Benedictine Community Retreat. In 10 short sessions over five days Kelly led sisters and oblates gathered at the monastery and others attending via Zoom on a pilgrimage that she titled, "Benedictine Women in a Synodal Church: Gifts for the Pilgrim Journey."

It may be that Benedictines come by longevity honestly--Benedictine monasticism has been around for 1,500 years. But that alone is not sufficient explanation for an alumnae association that has remained strong and vibrant 35 years after the school from which they graduated has closed.

Where do you experience the loud and wild thundering of the waters? In the Summer 2023 issue of The Mount, we look for the God of all strength who is with us always in the thundering waters. Learn about the "Creative Third Force" in the opening piece by contributor Katie Gordon. We remember Sister Mary Lou Kownacki who died in January with one of her many, many blog posts. An interview with Sister Marian Wehler, Benedictine, and Sister Tina Geiger, Sister of Mercy, about their work in Catholic Rural Ministry challenges us to adore Christ in everyone. In the summer issue we also celebrate our 2023 jubilations, both sisters and oblates. See how your donations were put to good work and how the SBA legacy of empowering women continues. Along with all the features, find the news highlights of the past six months from sisters and oblates.

Sister Dorothy Stoner, St. Benedict Education Center, and SBA Alumna Jenny Hagerty, director of Mercy Center for Women, were two of the speakers at Network's Care Not Cuts rally in Erie.

The Erie Benedictine Laudato Sí Platform Committee is working locally to keep alive the message of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sí, On Care for Our Common Home. We follow the direction set by the International Laudato Sí Action Platform as it works globally to keep this message of the encyclical before us. The vision: Every sector of the global church is, somehow, finding ways to lessen the climate crisis. All families, parishes, schools, health care, business, agriculture….are promoting and implementing Laudato Sí in their own local communities.

Dr. Geoffrey Dunn's presentation "Bunbu Ryodo - a surgeon’s experience" at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery is now available for online viewing. Dr. Dunn's presentation addressed spiritual growth through the twin paths of action and contemplation. The twin path concept is derived from the Japanese, bunbu ryodo, the balance of the pen and the sword. He discussed the principle in light of recent neurologic research and a half century’s experience with painting and surgery.

Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake by surface area of the five Great Lakes in North America and the eleventh-largest globally. The city of Erie is the main access point for Pennsylvanians to the Great Lakes. Erie Benedictine Sister Pat Lupo has been an environmental voice and activist in the Lake Erie region for decades. She is a contributor in a new podcast, Connecting with Lake Erie, from PennFuture's Environmental Voices podcast. 

This Tuesday May 23 from noon to 12:45 p.m. Benedictines for Peace and other local organizations are joining in NETWORK’s “Care Not Cuts" Rally, a non-partisan event to call on Congress to protect SNAP/WIC, housing subsidies, Medicaid, and veteran's services. Our democratic government, by means of the federal budget, has a moral responsibility to prioritize care for vulnerable people in urban and rural communities, and create a stronger, safer, healthier country where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Let's come together and urge Congress to secure a moral budget that serves the common good. Erie Benedictine Sister Dorothy Stoner will speak at the rally, along with Mayor Joe Schember and others.

Several Erie Benedictines were among the religious women honored by Erie DAWN (Dwelling and Advocacy for Women in Need) for their vision and leadership in beginning the non-profit collaboration in 1995. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania, the Sisters of Mercy, and the Benedictine Sisters of Erie began Erie DAWN and sponsored the ministry for 25 years. It is now a separately incorporated ministry with the mission of "providing safe, affordable, independent, transitional housing for low-income women and children. Advocacy and support services are provided so these women can continue to be productive members of society."

Sister Mary Miller, OSB, 81, died on Sunday, May 14, 2023, at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Read prayer and obituary>>>

“Not turning away: Climate change and the tools of good works” by Erie Benedictine Sister Jacqueline Sanchez-Small appears in the March 2023 issue of the American Benedictine Review.

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie have been engaged in caring for the earth. Our Benedictine tradition is grounded in reverence for all God’s creation. Individual sisters have an awareness of environmental concerns and express this in numerous ways. The community as a whole has committed itself to fostering a deeper understanding of the issues and needs with a commitment to action and lifestyle changes.

The Federation of St. Scholastica Centennial Colloquium presenter papers and responses, along with an introduction by Sister Joan Chittister, are now published in a 136-page book, Benedictine Life: A Vision Unfolding.

The halls and classrooms of St. Benedict Child Development Center were the site of a recent Health Fair for East Coast Migrant Head Start families thanks to 40 nursing students from Gannon University.

If you fish... If you enjoy lakes... If you drink water, then this 30-minute video is a must-see. Lake Erie, Our Kin, is the first of two videos. This first episode explores the complex history defines Lake Erie. Erie Benedictine Sister Pat Lupo, an award-winning environmental advocate, adds key insights to this conversation. Clips of the children with whom she works at the Inner-city Neighborhood Art House illustrate her work. These videos are a part of Chronicles, an immersive docuseries exploring the history of the Lake Erie region. We will post the second video after it airs on April 13.

As we celebrate Easter, the cornerstone of the Christian faith, let us remember that Jesus’ resurrection promises eternal life to all who believe. If Jesus had not risen from the dead he would have simply been another teacher or prophet. It is his resurrection that proclaims that death is not the last word. Jesus has conquered death. The light of new life triumphs over the shadow of death. The disciples, filled with the Spirit, go out to the ends of the earth, courageously witnessing to this truth.

A local TV station posted their reporting of the 43rd annual Good Friday Peace Pilgrimage, “Walk the Stations of the Cross with the Sorrowful Mother and Mother Earth,” the theme of this year’s contemporary Stations of the Cross. The prayer stops during the walk focused on suffering caused by the climate crisis and the need for effective environmental action. Sister Stephanie Schmidt, prioress, and Sister Annette Marshall, chairperson of the Benedictine Sisters' Care for the Earth committee, are interviewed in this clip. Benedictines for Peace organized the walk.

Geoffrey P. Dunn, MD, FACS, will present "Bunbu Ryodo - a surgeon’s experience" in the third Art and Spirituality lecture at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery on Thursday, May 11, 2023. Dr. Dunn's presentation will propose the opportunity for spiritual growth through the twin paths of action and contemplation. The twin path concept is derived from the Japanese, bunbu ryodo, the balance of the pen and the sword. He will discuss the principle in light of recent neurologic research and a half century’s experience with painting and surgery. NO REGISTRATION NECESSARY TO ATTEND IN PERSON.

On Monday, March 27 a large group of friends and family of shooting victim Noah King joined the Benedictine Sisters of Erie and Oblates, Sisters of St. Joseph, Agrégées, and Associates, Sisters of Mercy and Associates, to pray for Noah and those affected by his murder. They gathered at the site where Noah was killed to reclaim the site for nonviolence. Take Back the Site vigils, 15 minutes in length, are held at the site of any deaths in the city of Erie and in Millcreek which are ruled to be homicides. Family, friends, neighbors and those committed to being a presence for peace and nonviolence take part in the vigils. The first vigil was held in November 1999 and more than 150 have been held since.

Benedictines for Peace is sponsoring the 43rd Good Friday Pilgrimage for Peace on Friday, April 7. “Walk the Stations of the Cross with the Sorrowful Mother and Mother Earth” is the theme of this year’s contemporary Stations of the Cross. Our prayer will focus on suffering caused by the climate crisis and the need for effective environmental action at stops that symbolize suffering in our community. Prior to the pilgrimage, the Good Friday Tenebrae service is at 9:00 a.m. in the monastery chapel. It is open to the public. After the service, a chartered bus will transport participants to the Cathedral to begin the pilgrimage.

A recent blog post, "Benedictine nun’s successful online community–giving access to a monastic spirituality," by Debbie Thrower shares the impact of Sister Joan Chittister on Debbie's life as well as on the Monasteries of the Heart online community. She writes, "If you become a member of the online community Monasteries of the Heart,... you receive free weekly practices ‘that can help you develop a monastic spirituality–prayer, lectio (reflective reading), good works, study, and community. You also receive free inspirational words each week from three monastic blogs, including one by Sister Joan. And you join a worldwide community whose members discuss meaningful issues and are intent on impacting the times.’"

Without relationships Saint Benedict Education Center staff would not be able to offer the many services and program enhancements for the clients that we do. We could not exhibit the dedication and care for which we are known. Various types of relationships, within and outside the agency, are needed to be able to offer nurture and challenge....Building partnerships – creating relationships – will continue to happen as we move into Spring and Summer. Clients’ needs will be identified and activities to address them will be planned. Work on the new website will continue. Opportunities for additional assistance will emerge.

In honor of Women's History Month, a new art show is on display in the Chapter 57 Gallery at the monastery until March 26. More than 20 works of art in a variety of media by sisters, oblates, staff, and friends line the gallery hall. Above, artist and oblate Jo Clarke stands near a display of her miniature watercolors with 18 carat gold leaf, with Sister Dorothy Stoner. If you live in or near Erie, you can visit the display seven days a week when the monastery is open. The Chapter 57 Gift Shop is open on Sundays from 10:30 a.m. - 12 noon or by appointment. Call 814-899-0614 and leave a message for Sister Margaret Ann, gallery curator.

Community Art Events at the Benedictine Sisters Neighborhood Art House include daytime, evening, and weekend classes for all ages. Classes are free unless otherwise noted. Saturday in April 1, make a painted lawn or garden decoration from reclaimed wood to celebrate Earth Day. Mosaic Workshop with Ed Grout Wedesdays April 12 - May 17: Spend six weeks studying the art of mosaic making with Ed Grout, a professional glass and mosaic artist and an experienced instructor. The Art House offers a free Open Studio on Tuesday mornings from 10 am- 12 pm. Bring a project you're working on and spend some time in a creative environment. Guided drawing or painting exercises available if you don't bring your own project but want to make art.

Catholic Sisters Week is March 8-14. We begin the week recognizing the ministry of Sisters Marian Wehler, OSB, and Tina Geiger, RSM, in Catholic Rural Ministry. Recently, the two sisters invited Sister Jacqueline Sanchez-Small, OSB, a millennial member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, to join them in offering a Confirmation Retreat for 43 students from five parishes in the rural Pennsylvania counties they serve: Venango, Clarion, Forest, and parts of Crawford County.

Katie Gordon, co-founder of Nuns & Nones, an intergenerational, spiritual community and a staff member at Monasteries of the Heart who lives with the Erie Benedictines at Pax Priory will be speaking about her life as a millennial seeker and joining in conversation with sisters and guests at the Sisters of St. Joseph Community Living Center on Tuesday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome. The SSJ Community Living Center is located at 5031 West Ridge Road, Erie.

Nearly 50 oblates and sisters gathered at the monastery for a Lenten retreat, Leaning into Liminality: Staying Grounded in Troubled Times, on March 4. In two weeks, a virtual version of the same retreat will be offered for those who were not able to be onsite last Saturday. Oblate co-directors Joanne Cahill and Sister Annette Marshall hosted the retreat, facilitated by Rev. Dr. Sandy Selby, an Erie Benedictine oblate, and Rev. Dr. Lisa Withrow.

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie were one of three runners-up in the Interfaith Power & Light 2023 Cool Congregations Challenge, announced on February 28. The “Benedictine Sisters of Erie won a Sacred Grounds award for their woods management plan using goats to clear invasive plants, planting native trees and wildflowers. They’ve started a native plant nursery and inspired their neighbors to care for Creation,” according to the Cool Congregations website.

The February 2023 issue of The Companion, newsletter of Emmaus Ministries, honors founding mother Sister Mary Lou Kownacki who died on January 6. Sister Mary Miller, director, writes in her introduction, "Mary Lou was one of our “Founding Mothers,” establishing the soup kitchen when she was a young Benedictine Sister living in an intentional community in the inner city. There were always hungry people coming to their door, asking for any food that they could spare. Mary Lou envisioned a better way to ensure that the poor and hungry of Erie were fed..." DOWNLOAD HERE >>>

Erie News Now reporter Ethan Kibbe recently joined family friend Sister Phyllis Schleicher (left) for dinner at Mount St. Benedict Monastery, his first visit to the monastery.

Striving for balance is a basic tenet of monastic life. But exactly what "balance" means can vary...

Kelly Stolar, Executive Director of the Benedictine Sisters’ Inner-city Neighborhood Art House, will be honored as a Woman Making History by the Mercy Center for Women on April 3, 2023. “Kelly’s passion for helping children is contagious when you experience her constant efforts to provide ways to help children become confident, mature, and capable youth in the community, using the arts as a tool to achieve this,” wrote Neighborhood Art House Core Committee member Kathy Burik when she nominated Kelly for this award. “Knowing and working with Kelly and experiencing her dedication has made me want to give more to the community,” she said.

"Why have I chosen to give my life to the Benedictine tradition, a Christ-centered life marked by seeking God through prayer and community? And why do I believe it has something to contribute to creating a more just society?" are the questions Erie Benedictine Sister Valerie Luckey posed in her opening statement as a panelist for "Religion and Social Justice: A Conversation with Erie Leaders" at Mercyhurst University on February 7. She answered her query in terms of the two primary ministries of a Benedictine: prayer and community.

A large group of family and friends joined the Benedictine Sisters of Erie and Oblates, Sisters of St. Joseph, Agrégées, and Associates, Sisters of Mercy and Associates for a Take Back the Site Vigil for Steve Smith at Metroplex in Erie, the site where he was murdered on December 30, 2022. After the 15 minute prayer vigil in the frigid temperature, several members of Steve's family remembered his goodness and generosity and spoke of the pain of loss they are suffering. The family of the perpetrator was also remembered. See local news coverage here.

State Representative for the 2nd Legislative District, Bob Merski, visited the monastery to present a citation to Sister Mary Grace Hanes marking her 75th Jubilee.

Sister Marcia Sigler lives into the Benedictine Sisters of Erie Corporate Commitment on a near-daily basis. That commitment is, "We commit ourselves to be a healing presence and prophetic witness for peace and justice by actively addressing the climate crisis and the rights of women and children." Sister Marcia's nickname, "Recycle Queen," makes obvious that she focuses on addressing the climate crisis by helping recycle and reuse....A much more creative recycling project involves old prescription bottles...

Erie Times-News writer Jim Martin published a local tribute to Sister Mary Lou Kownacki, a former reporter for the Times, this morning.

Rev. John Dear, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace, posted a tribute to "Sister Mary Lou Kownacki: Mother of the spirituality of nonviolence" after being present in Erie to celebrate her life.

Benedictine sisters and oblates were among nearly 400 persons who took part in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Day march. Local leaders spoke as the crowd gathered at Perry Square before the march to the Martin Luther King Center off Chestnut Street. At the Center, following the march participants joined in prayer and a wreath was placed in front of a memorial casket to honor Martin Luther King. A strong call was made to the many young persons present encouraging them to take greater responsibility for moving the community forward in unity and to continue the work of ending racism and dismantling racist structures and systems.

Sister Joan Chittister delivered the eulogy at the Liturgical Celebration of Sister Mary Lou Kownacki's Life on January 10, 2023. The hundreds of people from all walks of life and every age who passed through the monastery on Monday and Tuesday to say their goodbyes, those who shared moving memories of Sister Mary Lou at her Memory Service and filled the monastery chapel for the celebration of her life, were testament to an ordinary life lived with extraordinary love, passion, and conviction.

The Benedictine community processes into chapel for morning praise on the Feast of the Epiphany after walking through the monastery recalling the journey of the three Magi to find the Christ child. They stopped in the monastery common spaces to pray a blessing and mark the door frames.

Former National Catholic Reporter editor Tom Roberts has published a moving tribute to Sister Mary Lou Kownacki at A friend of the Erie Benedictines, Tom captures the spirit of Sister Mary Lou and the extent of her visionary influence on a broad scale.

Sister Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, 81, died on Friday, January 6, 2023, at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Read prayer and obituary>>>

In her January 2 podcast Sister Carolyn Gorny-Kopkowski reflects on the abundance of glory that surrounds us as the new year begins. "There is frequently a lighter, brighter (although sometimes hidden) aspect of even the darker, heavier parts of life," she says.

God is good and upright showing the path to those who stray. (Psalm 25:8) “In Psalm 25,” Sister Joan Chittister teaches, “the psalmist presents us with a lowly image of God as the one who finds us when we’re off course even if we got that way as a result of our own devices.” In this time of New Years reflections and resolutions, join us in considering: If you opened yourself wide as the sky tomorrow, how would your path change? What would you have to give up to do that? What would you get instead?

We offer these words from Howard Thurman as New Year's aspirations. May 2023 be a year of fulfilling the work of Christmas:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers and sisters,
To make music in the heart.

It has become somewhat of a tradition for St. Benedict Education Center staff to provide something of warmth for their program participants and their children as cold weather looms: coats and boots. The staff give careful attention to gathering information about the sizes and needs of each child and of the clients before going shopping. In addition, something new was offered in Erie: The warmth of a bit a soup and adult companions with whom to enjoy it.

Sister Val Luckey shares photos and commentary on her blog of one of the tastiest annual traditions at the monastery: pizzelle making under the guidance of Sister Marilyn Schauble. "Everyone looks to make the *perfect* circle with the pizzelle irons, getting just the right amount of batter at just the right location for just the right amount of time," she writes. "But, of course, when they aren't perfect, we have to cut off the extra ends...and eat them, too! Maybe imperfections aren't so bad!"

On this first day of winter--and longest night of the year--please join in solidarity to honor and remember those who have experienced homelessness in our community and who lost their lives in 2022. Join us at noon on Wednesday, December 21, West Perry Square in downtown Erie. We will begin with remarks and song at at 12:20 call the names of those we have lost this past year. After a closing prayer at 12:30 join the Memorial Walk and wreath dedication at the homeless Jesus statue, Cathedral of St. Paul on West 6th Street. The Erie County Home Team Homeless and Housing Coalition has organized this event.

Sharon McSweeny, center, formalized her commitment to live the monastic life for one year at a simple ceremony in the monastery dining room on November 21. Sister Ann Muczynski, Director of Monastic Formation, is on the left and prioress Sister Stephanie Schmidt is on the right. Sharon will live in the monastery, immersed in the daily rhythm of communal life including prayer, common meals, and shared tasks. She will also be engaged in a community ministry four days a week, with a fifth weekday set aside as a reflection day.

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie are excited to announce a new residential internship program for young women ages 22-35 interested in seeking meaningful work immersed in a community committed to peace and justice. Internships are offered in a variety of areas (Care for the Earth, Monastic Spirituality, Social Outreach, Development/Communications), include room and board at the monastery and a monthly stipend, and have a flexible time range (3-6 months). Interested? Click the link below for a brochure, and if you’d like to know more, email and one of our organizing committee members: Anne, Val, Colleen, Katie, or Linda, will contact you.

Sister Susan Doubet has an intuitive edge when it comes to numbers. Which is why she was the one who realized that the 2023 Joan Chittister Calendar was the 30th calendar produced by Benetvision. Sister Susan (left) is pictured here with designer Judith Allison. All 30 calendars are currently on display at the monastery in the Chapter 57 Gallery. If you happen to be in the area and stop by the monastery, you can view the display through the end of December.

As referenced in the Winter 2022 issue of The Mount, the full interview with 2022 Joan Chittister writers-in-residence Amanda Bolaños and Ailie Posillico is available here. This past summer, the two scholars lived and worked in the monastery for one month each, deepening in their respective fields of study: Amanda Bolaños, a PhD student at Duke Divinity School, and Ailie Posillico, a PhD student at Villanova University. Their projects help us expand our notions of women in the canon and female holiness in contemporary religious life. The interview was conducted by Katie Gordon. In the photo, Amanda, left, volunteered at Emmaus Soup Kitchen with Sisters Sue Doubet, Val Luckey, and Jacqueline Sanchez-Small.

Emmaus has served a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, a week before the actual holiday, because many local restaurants generously offer free meals to those in need on the holiday itself. This year the meal was served by a team of volunteers from Our Lady of Peace Parish, coordinated by Darrell Meyers, who has been a regular at Emmaus for 23 years. “Emmaus is grateful for all that you do for us,” Sister Mary Miller, Director of Emmaus, said to the volunteers before their shift. “We thank God that you’re here and that you bless us and our guests with your smiles, your kindness, and your attentiveness.”

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie join with our sisters in the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in a plea for an end to gun violence and hatred, most recently experienced in Colorado Springs, CO, and Chesapeake, VA.

The announcement read: “St Benedict Education Center Fall Open House! See what’s going on at SBEC and discover opportunities!” The invitation was offered to all current clients – and many responded. Tuesday, October 18, was the day. Not since before the restrictions required by Covid have the halls of SBEC and Treasures & Such, the incentive store, contained such energy and activity --- plus the presence of so many people interacting with each other. One of the staff planners, Shari Riley, shared: “Covid 19 has changed so much in the world…for all of us. It was uplifting to see everyone! All the participants seemed excited and interested. Laughter and good cheer filled our halls once again!”

Wrap yourself in Benedictine hospitality when you read the Winter 2022 issue of The Mount, starting with Brother Mickey McGrath's cover artwork, "Our Lady of Refuge." Prioress Sister Stephanie Schmidt invites us into the issue and the very first story looks at the long history of Benedictine hospitality at St. Benedict's Child Development Center. We celebrate a final monastic profession, a retirement, and a poetry park. Guest columnist Mary E. Hunt of WATER, the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual offers "Hospitality Writ Large." We had to write once more about the goats who accompanied us last summer and show off the results of their work. Oblates, SBA Alum, and Joan Chittister Writers-in-Residence round out this issue.

A small group gathered on November 10 to pray in memory of Timothy Smith at the site where he was fatally beaten earlier this year. After being on life support for a few weeks, he died of his injuries on September 13. Timmy, who was 80, was staying at Erie City Mission at the time of the attack that happened just down the street. Sister Mary Ellen Plumb said, “I think it reminds us always that violence is never a good choice. And if we can stand for nonviolence in every situation where violence occurs, then we can change our own hearts so that kind of thing happens less. We can help change the hearts of others by our own love and reconciliation.” Learn more about Take Back the Site Vigils on the Benedictines for Peace website.

Long before Jasmine Flores would become the first Latina to be elected to the Erie City Council, she was a six year-old student at Pfeiffer Burleigh who came to the Kids Cafe every day after school....“Part of what made the Kids Cafe so special for me was that it was one of the few places where I really felt seen and heard as a little kid growing up on the lower east side,” she said. “As the daughter of immigrants, it helped me a lot to have native English speakers checking my homework and helping me with grammar and spelling. But most of all, if I hadn’t gone to the Kids Cafe, I might not have known any adults who really validated me.”

More than 50 oblates participated in the 2022 October Community Weekend. Interest groups were offered Friday and on Saturday, Sister Joan Chittiser led a listening process inviting participants into the unrealized wisdom of Vatican II. At evening praise, Sister Stephanie Schmidt, prioress, welcomed new oblates and initiates.

Sisters and guests joined Sister Margaret Ann Pilewski for the opening of her new art show, “Transition,” on Sunday. The show features 52 new pieces born of Sister Peggy’s reflections on the current transitions in her life. “After 27 year of teaching and administering at the Art House, which followed years of teaching, I turned to a new season, a season of focusing on my art,” she explained....“Transition” will be in the Chapter 57 Gallery through Sunday, November 20. The Chapter 57 store is open every Sunday after liturgy until noon. (Closed October 30) Or, other days and times by appointment, call 814-440-3114.

Erie Benedictine Sister Marian Wehler and Sister Tina Geiger, RSM, are offering an overnight retreat, “Walking with Jesus." The focus will be on living a Eucharistic Spirituality. It will take place at Olmsted Conference Center in Ludlow, PA, beginning at noon on Thursday, November 10 and ending at noon on Friday November 11. Cost is $60 and includes overnight and four meals. For more information or to register call 814-677-2032 or emailing Sister Tina, Deadline to register is October 27. Sponsored by Catholic Rural Ministry.