About the Benedictine Sisters of Erie

Corporate Commitment

A corporate commitment is a vision or goal that we agree to promote as a community and as individuals no matter where we are or in how many diverse ministries we might be engaged. The corporate commitment of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie is:

As Benedictine Sisters of Erie we commit ourselves to be a healing presence and prophetic witness for peace by working for sustainability and justice, especially for women and children.

Charism Statement

A charism is a particular way in which people respond to God's call. A community’s charism embodies the way the members carry out their mission and ministries. The Benedictine charism is:

The Benedictine way is to seek God in the communal life and to respond in prayer and ministry.

Common Life


Life as a Benedictine Sister of Erie is centered in community, following the Rule of St. Benedict under the guidance of the Prioress. We are vowed in the Catholic tradition promising with perpetual vows: stability, fidelity to the monastic way of life and obedience. A commitment to the common good and respect for each other support us in our search for God and nurture the bonds of community.

Prayer and Liturgy

As Benedictine women, prayer is central to our monastic life. The community gathers three times a day for the Liturgy of the Hours, the basis of our communal prayer. The festive marking of Sunday, along with the great feasts and seasons of the liturgical year, includes the celebration of Eucharist as well. Daily lectio divina, occasional reconciliation services, and various annual events complete the community’s liturgical life.

Ongoing Formation

How does one keep fresh and alive the energy and joy of responding to one’s call to monastic life? The community’s commitment to continuing education – to our On-going Formation Program – is one way. This program is implemented through a series of regularly scheduled community meetings. The meetings focus on areas that will aid in our growth and development as human persons and monastic women in church and society.


Ministry is an integral part of monastic life. Inspired by the Gospel and the Rule of Benedict we respond to the needs of God’s people. We steward the gifts, talents and skills that have been given to us and extend them through service. Community and non-community ministries alike provide the opportunity for meaningful work that is consistent with our monastic commitment to glorify God in all things.


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Community Life

Ohio Students Visit the Kids Cafe

“I reminded them that they are the age of several of our children who come to the Kids Cafe,” said Breanna Mekuly, a staff member of Emmaus Ministries who led the 39 eighth graders from All Saints of St. John Vianney School, of Wickliffe, OH, on...

What a party—Sister Placida’s 100th!

Sister Placida Anheuser turned 100 years old—is there any better reason to have a party? Not only that, but she is the first Erie Benedictine in the community’s 160+ years that has reached her 100th birthday. “Yes, there is much to celebrate,”...

Breanna Mekuly: We did it!

“I was on such an adrenaline high from biking so far,” said Emmaus Ministries staff member, Breanna Mekuly, “that I just kept peddling and peddling until I could see the mist from Niagara Falls. Then I shouted: WE DID IT!”

Breanna was one...

When the end is the beginning

The smoking thurible filled with incense swooped through the space overhead and ritualized the end of the Camino walk for Carol Vaccariello. But it wasn’t the end for her she said. “What I learned from this amazing experience is that the end is...

Memories of a glorious celebration: Sister Patricia's Perpetual Monastic Profession

“Today we witness the profession of a woman who is responding to the constant call of God,” said Sister Anne Wambach, prioress, on the occasion of the Perpetual Monastic Profession of Sister Patricia Witulski, OSB. “For a woman whose life is...


Community History

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie trace their beginnings to the Benedictine nuns at St. Walburg Abbey in Eichstätt, Bavaria, Germany, founded in 1035. Sisters from there first came to St. Marys, PA in 1852 to educate the children of the newly arrived German immigrants.

On June 21, 1856 Mother Benedicta Riepp and five sisters from St. Marys arrived in Erie at the request of the Erie bishop. Sister Scholastic Burkhard was appointed first superior by Mother Benedicta thus establishing the first community of women religious in the Erie area.

In 1859 three sisters from Erie were sent to Covington, KY to begin a community and in 1861 three more traveled to Chicago to establish another community. Both communities continue today. Read more