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.


See our Guest Accommodations Page to schedule a visit.

Community Life

Everyone can be an Architect of Change

A full house gave a standing ovation to Joan Chittister, OSB and Maria Shriver when they appeared on stage to be "In Conversation" at Mercyhurst University. "The room was alive with energy and excitement from the moment they appeared and it just...

Maria Shriver and Joan Chittister IN CONVERSATION: TICKET UPDATE

Live-Stream of IN CONVERSATION: Thursday, April 9, 7:30 p.m.

"Blue" tickets (FREE) for the "In Conversation" live stream at the Mercyhurst Athletic Center (MAC) will be available at the MAC door the night of the event....

Holy Week Retreat Begins

The Holy Week experience has begun for a number of retreatants who are choosing to spend the special days of the Triduum with the Benedictine Sisters of Erie. They will participate in the Holy Week liturgies, serve a meal at Emmaus Soup Kitchen,...

Easter Egg Fun

Benedictines cultivate the art of beauty – and even the art of Easter egg decorating! The annual event, organized by Sister Helen Heher with the help of Sister Cecilia Sullivan, was a prelude to the special days the community will celebrate as...

"Break-fast" Speaker

Emmaus Kids Cafe program coordinator, Stephanie Grear, was the invited speaker at the 2nd annual “Break-fast” on March 24, 2015 at Gannon University. The Break-fast culminates a 12 hour Food Fast and hunger awareness experience. The Food Fast was...


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