Benedictine Sisters support Erie County Council Resolution

Benedictine Sisters of Erie support Erie County Council’s recent resolution declaring racism a public health crisis.

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie support Erie County Council’s recent resolution declaring racism a public health crisis and expressing their intent to address the health, education, housing and economic disparities existing in Erie County. “Our foremothers settled in Erie only five years after the city’s incorporation in 1851,” said Sister Stephanie Schmidt, prioress. “We grew with the city and as our awareness of new and changing needs—especially those of the poor and disenfranchised—expanded, we looked for ways not only to alleviate immediate needs but also to change systems that perpetuate poverty and injustice.”

The Inner-City Neighborhood Art House, for example, “was founded on the premise that art and beauty belong in the inner city as much as anywhere else. Those who live in our inner city are disproportionately poor and Black and we hope that through progamming that strives to bring art and beauty into the lives of children we are seeding hope for change,” said Sister Annette Marshall, executive director.

The ravages of COVID-19 have helped unmask the role of white privilege in maintaining systemic racism and the police killing of so many Black people has brought us face-to-face with our responsibility to not only speak out but also to learn how we often unknowingly perpetuate these unjust systems. As Benedictine sisters we call ourselves and all those who share our Benedictine and gospel values to name our complicity in maintaining racist structures and then to work with those seeking healing, peace, and justice.

“Through our ministries in the city as well as in the prayer and hospitality we offer at the monastery, we commit ourselves to be ‘a healing presence and prophetic witness for peace and justice’ as our Coroporate Commitment states,” Sister Stephanie said. “We, too, like many others throughout our city and nation have a new resolve to transform systems that perpetuate injustice in favor of those that promote the good of all.”