Become a Benedictine

Permanent Vowed Membership

The face of permanent members of monastic communities has changed over the centuries. In our time many people seeking permanent membership are professional women who long for a life that follows the Gospel of Jesus. They come from varied backgrounds and share the common desire to seek God and change the world.

A woman interested in permanent membership comes to know the community and in the process discerns her vocation. At some point she moves into the monastery to begin living the communal life of prayer and ministry. She participates fully in the life of the community and learns the community history, its vision and values and must decide at every step of the way if she shares those values and wants to continue the formation process.

Perpetual monastic profession comes only after five to six years of fully immersing herself in community life and passing through stages of formation that move the individual deeper into her own soul and also deeper into the heart of the world.

Vocation Contact

Benedictine Sisters of Erie Vocation Team

Elizabeth Oettel, OSB
Valerie Luckey, OSB
Mary Ellen Plumb, OSB
Vocation Team
6101 East Lake Road
Erie, PA 16511
814-899-0614 ext. 2424

Ann Muczynski, OSB, is Director of Monastic Formation

Stages of Initial Monastic Formation

  • InquiryA woman who is interested in religious life spends this time getting to know the community through regular contact with the vocation director, visits to the monastery and prayer. It is a time of mutual discernment. (6-24 months)
  • PostulancyIn this stage a woman requests admission to the monastery so she can continue to discern her vocation. She experiences the Benedictine way of life with our community by entering into the daily rhythm of prayer and work. (12 months)
  • NovitiateThis is a year of intense study and immersion into community life. The novice learns more about the Benedictine charism and the monastic vows. At the end of this year she will discern if she is being called to continue this journey and then make her first monastic profession.
  • ScholasticateThis 3-6 year period is a time to focus on the integration of prayer, community and ministry. The scholastic prepares to enter into a permanent covenant relationship with God and the sisters of this community.
  • Perpetual Monastic ProfessionWith the perpetual profession of monastic vows the scholastic is welcomed into full membership in the community. She commits herself to a lifetime of conversion through the monastic way of life.

Sisters in Initial Monastic Formation

Sister Jennifer Frazer, Novice

Sister Jennifer Frazer entered into the Novitiate year on Saturday, May 2, 2020, when she expressed her desire to seek God with the Benedictine Sisters of Erie during the community’s Vigil Prayer. Jen, an artist and...

Sister Colleen Leathley, Novice

Sister Colleen met the Erie Benedictines as a participant in the Benedicta Riepp Monastic Experience program. A psychologist and academic with dual citizenship in New Zealand and Australia, she says: “From my...

Sister Jacqueline Sanchez-Small, Novice

Sister Jacqueline began the novitiate on October 17, 2020. In her words, "When I first encountered this community as an intern with Sister Joan Chittister in the summer of 2015, I was a graduate student, working...

Sister Kathleen McCarthy, Scholastic

On March 15, 2019 Sister Kathleen McCarthy made her first profession of monastic vows in the chapel at Mount St. Benedict Monastery, Erie, PA. Sister Kathleen professed stability, obedience and fidelity to the...

Sister Valerie Luckey, Scholastic

On October 21, 2017, Sister Valerie Luckey made her intentions clear: "I ask that I may continue to seek God in this Benedictine community through first monastic profession."

Sister Valerie is from Emmaus,...

Sister Karen Oprenchok, Scholastic

Sister Karen is from Windsor, Ontario, Canada and is a former office worker of the Canadian Federal Government. On June 3, 2017, the eve of Pentecost, she professed her first vows of stability, obedience and...

Web Links and Reading Suggestions

VIDEO: In the Footsteps of Benedict and Scholastica
Benedictines-worldwide
Monastic Interreligious Dialogue
Trappists-worldwide

Wisdom Distilled from the Daily
Joan Chittister, OSB

Monk in the Inner City
Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB

New Seeds of Contemplation
Thomas Merton, OCSO

Engaging Benedict
Laura Swan, OSB

Monasteries of the Heart
Joan Chittister, OSB

Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints
James Martin

The Cloister Walk
Kathleen Norris

St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living
Jane Tomaine

The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century
Joan Chittister, OSB

The Song of the Seed: A Monastic Way of Tending the Soul
Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB

With Open Hands
Henri Nowen

12 Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited
Joan Chittister, OSB

Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation
Parker J. Palmer

The Nonviolent Moment: Spirituality for the 21st Century
Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB

Vocations Anonymous: A Handbook for Adults Discerning Priesthood and Religious Life
Kathleen Bryant, RSC

The Benedictine Path and Me: Sister Joan Chittister

Practice Lectio Divina

Latin for “divine reading,” is an ancient method of praying to promote union with God. Its outward appearances might be a gentler spirit, a passionate heart, greater compassion, love and peace-making. Use the passage below for your lectio divina.

Reflections on Autumn Days

Trees of radiant green say goodbye to another year’s growth.
Their leaves break away, sailing to the ground.
They tell us that in the deepest part of who we are,
there is always a call to continue our transformation process.

We are autumn people.
We are always called to be in the process of growing and changing.
May our minds and hearts be open to this inner season
which is part of us.
May we trust you, Autumn God, who calls us to grow.

(by Joyce Rupp)


Scholastic Valerie Luckey shares her journey with the Benedictine Sisters of Erie in her blog, Walking in the Holy Presence. Read it here.

Stories and Events

Two women welcomed into Benedictine novitiate
Sisters Colleen Leathley, Ann Muczynski, and Jacqueline Sanchez-Small

Sisters Jacqueline Sanchez-Small (right) and Colleen Leathley (left) marked the continuation of their monastic journey by moving from the first...

Intergenerational living group celebrates Young Alumni Award
Sister Karen, Katie, Sisters Rosanne, Lucia and Claire Marie live in intergenerational community.

The four sisters who live in community at Pax Priory, a small-group living community of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, have been responding to...

Some Thoughts on Looking Ahead
Mother Benedicta Riepp (1825-1862) is the founder of Benedictine life for women in the Untied States.

"I spend a lot of time thinking about Benedicta Riepp. In 1852, at the age of 27, she set out from her monastery in Germany and with two other...

Living Monastic Life

Sister Colleen Leathley, Novice

Sister Colleen met the Erie Benedictines as a participant in the Benedicta Riepp Monastic Experience program. A psychologist and academic with dual citizenship in New Zealand and Australia, she says: “From my...

Sister Ann Muczynski

Sister Ann Muczynski, whose home parish was St. Joseph in Warren, PA, entered the Erie Benedictines in 1992 and professed her first vows in 1994. Sister Ann has embraced the monastic way of life with sincerity and...

Sister Jacinta Conklin

Sister Jacinta Conklin, originally a Benedictine Sister of Elk County and past prioress who supported her sisters with compassion and care, came to Erie in 2016. It had become clear that St. Joseph Monastery in St....