For the first time an oblate and a sister will co-direct oblate program

Oblate Joanne Cahill and Sister Dianne Sabol, Oblate Co-directors

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie have named Oblate Joanne Cahill (left) as the first oblate co-director of the 275 oblates of the community. Joanne, of State College, PA, will be co-director with Sister Dianne Sabol, oblate director since 2015. “For over 40 years I have witnessed how the Oblate Way of Life has evolved in this community and I am very aware that we stand on the shoulders of all of the sisters and oblates who have gone before us. I look forward to sharing this adventure with Joanne as we help to shape the next chapter of this journey,” said Sister Dianne.

“I applaud the community’s decision to move in this new direction of team leadership. Sisters and oblates bring unique perspectives to our commitments as Benedictines and I am grateful that future planning will reflect this,” said Joanne, who has been an oblate since 2003. “I hope that sisters and oblates will continue to seek and find new ways to learn from one another as, together, we strive to ensure the time-tested values of the Rule are alive and well in our world today.” Oblates are women and men who make a formal commitment to Benedictine spirituality and values as lived by the particular community where they make their oblation, or offering. Learn more here.

In 2018 Joanne was the Erie Benedictine’s oblate representative at the Fourth World Congress of Benedictine Oblates in Rome, a gathering of nearly 200 oblates from around the world. “In her keynote address to those gathered, our own Sister Joan Chittister said that it is insufficient for oblates to be mere consumers of the Benedictine tradition; rather, we must carry Benedictine spirituality to the home, the workplace, the halls of power—wherever life takes us,” Joanne recalled. “For that to happen, however, on-going monastic formation is essential, and Sister Dianne and I are committed to expanding such opportunities.”

In 2015-2016, Joanne spent seven months living in community at the monastery as a participant in the Benedicta Riepp Monastic Experience Program. “That experience came at a time of transition for me. Newly retired, I couldn’t imagine a better way to ground myself in the tradition I had grown to love. Living, praying and working with the sisters stretched me in unimaginable ways and set the tone for a new life chapter in my life,” she said.

Joanne has been associated with the Benedictine sisters for more than 25 years, her first connection being through a personal retreat in one of the community’s hermitages. Although she lives at a distance, Joanne travels regularly to Erie to spend time at the monastery. She has three children and five grandchildren. Before she retired, Joanne was the director of leadership gifts at Penn State University.