Joan Chittister and Cokie Roberts—Electric!

At last night’s Joan D. Chittister Lecture Series it was hard not to think of the song that made the Electric Slide dance famous back in the late 1980s: “It’s electric . . . you can’t see it . . . it’s electric . . . you gotta feel it . . . it’s electric . . . .” What a perfect way to describe the tangible spirit that seemed to pervade the entire evening, an evening electrified by 2 women in conversation that drew 800 people to crowd the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center at Mercyhurst University.

Local author and activist Joan Chittister, OSB and Cokie Roberts, acclaimed political commentator spent almost an hour and half conversing about religion, politics and women’s roles in positions of leadership.

There were moments when you could hear a pin drop, moments that burst with laughter, and moments with thunderous applause and standing ovation.

Chittister and Roberts spoke from deep foundations of faith, conviction and hope. “Women religious and the work they are doing enliven my hope,” said Roberts. “These women are paving the way for all women to be the voice of conscience. We need women’s voices more than ever.” At the end of the evening Chittister reminded all present that Christians believe in life after death; they look forward to that life. But we can’t forget life before death. We must be alive and active now.

Read local coverage and view a video interview of Chittister and Roberts at Erie News Now and GoErie.

Mercyhurst’s Joan D. Chittister Lecture Series began in 2014, when Mercyhurst also dedicated the Helen Boyle Memorial Archive in Honor of Joan D. Chittister, OSB, in Hammermill Library. The archive space at Mercyhurst and the lecture series have been endowed by the Boyle Family in honor of Helen Loebelenz Boyle, Mercyhurst Class of 1934, a longtime friend of Sister Joan. Mary Hembrow Snyder, Ph.D., professor of theology and religious studies and director of the William C. Sennett Institute for Mercy and Catholic Studies at Mercyhurst chairs the committee that plans the event.