Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2014


In addition, Sister Joan is the executive director of Benetvision, a research and resource center for contemporary spirituality. And, since 2002, she has been a co-chair of the U.N.-sponsored Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders – traveling all over the world advocating for women’s rights and interfaith dialogue. Most importantly, Sister Joan has been a deeply committed Benedictine sister for more than 60 years. Imagine – for more than 60 years she has immersed herself in the Scriptures, in Lectio Divina (prayerful refection on those Scriptures) and in the church’s liturgical life; for more than 60 years she has immersed herself in the divisive issues facing religious communities, her city, her nation, her church and our world; for more than 60 years, she has assumed the challenging mantle of leadership; for more than 60 years, she has written prolifcally about the spiritual life, adult faith, religious life, peace, nonviolence, racism, sexism, religious imperialism, and more; for more than 60 years she has been the courageous voice for those who have no voice: women, the poor, immigrants, prisoners, victims of violence of every kind; for more than 60 years she has withstood the calumny, the verbal abuse, the condemnations, the misunderstandings, yes, even the hatred, of those who found her vision antithetical to their own.

By Mary Hembrow Snyder, Ph.D.

’ Sister Joan is a Mercyhurst alum who graduated in 1962 with a B.A. in English. She also has an M.A. in communication arts from the University of Notre Dame, a Ph.D. in speech communication theory from Penn State University, and is an Elected Fellow of St. Edmund s College, Cambridge University. For 12 years, from 1978 to 1990, Sister Joan served as prioress of her Benedictine community in Erie, Pa. For more than three decades, she has also served in positions of leadership among women religious in the Catholic Church. ’ Author of more than 50 books that have been translated into 10 languages, Sister Joan has been given the Catholic Press Associations Award 12 times. More than 700 of her articles have been published in periodicals such as America , US Catholic , Sojourners and The Tablet . She is an internationally sought-after speaker who has received 12 honorary doctoral degrees – all from Catholic colleges and universities across the country. A colleague asked me to explain why I think Sister Joan Chittister, OSB , is so important. Before I answer this, a few biographical facts may be helpful.


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