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Lenten Meditation

"Lent is about the holiness that suffering can bring. It is about bringing good where evil has been, about bringing love where hate has been. It is about the transformation of the base to the beautiful . . . . The point is that no one escapes suffering. It is part of the rhythm of life, part of the process of living. The question, then, is, for what are we willing to suffer?"
--Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year: the spiraling adventure of the spiritual life

News and Events

Meet Debbie Shoup, Emmaus Volunteer
March 2, 2017

“I try to remember all the names of the individuals who come through my line at the pantry,” says Debbie Shoup, who volunteers both at Emmaus’ pantry and soup kitchen. “I can’t tell you the warmth of the smile they get on their face when I remember their name without looking at their identification card.”

At the pantry, Debbie sits behind a desk checking guests in each Monday and Tuesday. She works with people from last names beginning with the letters A-G. There are about 300 active individuals in her group of guests.

Debbie has worked hard at remembering all her guests’...

Lent and the culture of encounter
March 1, 2017

Lent begins. The annual 40-day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The journey to Easter and the expectation of resurrection.

“If you were to enter the monastery chapel you would know a new season has begun,” said Sister Anne Wambach, prioress. “You encounter the cross positioned in the center of the worship space; a purple candle invites peace and contemplation; the Word of God is visible and the open book issues an unspoken invitation to listen deeply during this special time.”

In his annual Lenten message Pope Francis suggests that lent is the “season for renewing...

Committee for Alternative Resource Energy (CARE): New Web Resource Now Available
February 28, 2017

The CARE Committee invites you to visit their new page on the Benedictine Sisters of Erie website. “The goal of our new page is to extend the work of our committee—to provide resources and information for those who would like to join us in making a positive difference in our effort to slow climate change,” explained chairperson Marlene Trambley, Benedictine oblate.

The new page offers articles, web links, videos and other resources. “We also invite our readers to suggest resources that we can share on the page or to tell us about the work you are doing to conserve and protect...

Joan Chittister meets swim challenge
February 27, 2017

“You don’t stop when you're in over your head,” said Sister Joan Chittister. “You swim harder, faster and longer ... .”

Sister Joan met the YMCA challenge, “Swim the Lake,” and completed the number of pool laps equivalent to 24.3 miles—the distance from Erie across the lake to Canada.

Sierra Tufts of Erie News Now talked with Sister Joan about her accomplishment and the result is inspiring.

Check out the interview here and listen to Sister Joan who uses swimming as...

In Memoriam: Sister Roberta Lavin, OSB
February 25, 2017

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie remember Sister Roberta Lavin who entered into eternal rest on February 24, 2017. Please join us in prayer for Sister Roberta.





TBTS: An effort to restore peace
February 24, 2017

The first homicide victim of 2017 was remembered at a TAKE BACK THE SITE VIGIL held on February 23. Marcell Jakeem Flemings was senselessly gunned down on January 15 at 6th and Parade Streets. The vigil, organized by the Benedictine Sisters, the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Sisters of Mercy, and oblates and associates, is an effort to reclaim the site of violence for non-violence. It honors the victim and prays for the family, friends and neighbors of both the victim and the alleged perpetrator, all of whom are affected.

This effort to restore peace to areas marked by violence has...

Blessed by a Riepper named Jessica Varquez
February 23, 2017

“For the past 6 months the community has been blessed yet again by a ‘Riepper’ in our midst,” said Sister Anne Wambach, prioress. The community recently celebrated Jessica Chan Varquez, a 24-year-old oblate from Merida, Mexico, who completed her commitment to the Benedicta Riepp Monastic Experience Program. Sister Stephanie Schmidt, Director of Monastic Formation, thanked Jessica for her commitment to live the monastic way of life. Her sentiments echoed those of the community: “You have been faithful to the process of...

Build Bridges, Not Walls--Justice for Immigrants
February 22, 2017

The Justice for Immigrants Vigil organized by Benedictines for Peace was held today. A group of about 60 people joined together and called for the building of bridges, not walls. The vigil focused on the contributions immigrants and refugees have made to the Erie area and offered support to those immigrants who are facing the threat of deportation. Read and view local coverage on

Emmaus, Sixth graders and Cookies
February 22, 2017

Instead of going to the movies together or going to the roller rink, on a recent day when school was dismissed early, thirteen sixth grade girls from Our Lady’s Christian School gathered to bake cookies for the guests of Emmaus Soup Kitchen.

“The girls chose Emmaus Soup Kitchen because they knew the Emmaus guests would really appreciate fresh baked cookies,” said Sue Zimmerman, mother of a sixth grader at Our Lady’s Christian School, who organized the gathering. “Middle school is a time of transition and I felt the need to bring the girls together for team building activities....

Build Bridges, Not Walls
February 20, 2017

A number of national groups (LCWR, USCCB, Network, etc.) and advocates for social justice are calling for immigration vigils this week during congressional recesses. The theme of Build Bridges Not Walls echoes the entreaty of Pope Francis who has said: "In the social and civil context as well, I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges. To not respond to evil with evil. To defeat evil with good, the offense with forgiveness.”

This theme will likewise be used for prayer circles outside congressional offices throughout this week. Joe Haas, with Refugee Resettlement...

A Cardboard House?
February 15, 2017

Dear Friends of Emmaus,

the homeless man
takes off his shoes before
his cardboard house
--Penny Harter

This poem is about dignity. Human dignity. Here the homeless person keeps his sense of worth and honors the place where he lives, albeit a cardboard house.

At the soup kitchen, we try to replicate the spirit of this poem. We want our kitchen to be a sacred space where hungry, homeless, and hurting people find a home.

That’s why we deliberated so long to rebuild the kitchen that was severely damaged by fire over a year ago. We had many options...