Celebrating a new prioress

Sister Stephanie high-fives with Oblate Sheila McLaughlin.

Flexibility is a thread running through the Rule of Benedict. If one way doesn’t work, try another. And that is what a group of Erie Benedictine oblates (those with a formal commitment to embody the sisters’ Benedictine values) and friends did when they celebrated the installation of Sister Stephanie Schmidt as prioress in a new way because the monastery remains closed due to the pandemic.

In lieu of the usual practice on such an occasion—shared prayer followed by a lively reception—oblates organized a drive-by greeting at the community’s monastery on East Lake Road in Harborcreek on the evening of the installation. “We were so happy to greet Sister Stephanie,” said co-organizer and oblate Breanna Mekuly. “I almost cried when I saw everyone—friends, oblates and sisters. It meant so much just to be together again even if it was only in our cars.”

The parade of about 20 cars sporting signs and trailing balloons made several trips around the circle drive at the monastery front entrance with their passengers greeting sisters who lined the sidewalks.

Sister Stephanie’s reflections, given at her installation, are presented here. Click here to learn more about the commitment and role of oblates.

Parade of cars around monastery's circle drive.
Parade of cars around monastery's circle drive.
Oblates Marlene Trambley and Barb Roseborough.
Oblates Marlene Trambley and Barb Roseborough.
Sisters line the sidewalks in front of the monastery.
Sisters line the sidewalks in front of the monastery.
Oblates Nancy Sabol and Jo Clarke share chocolate kisses.
Oblates Nancy Sabol and Jo Clarke share chocolate kisses.
A final wave.
A final wave.