Millennials and Monastics

Stephanie, Sister Anne, Sister Stephanie, Sister Val (Millennial and Monastic), Sister Ann, Sister Linda, Erin, Katie, Sister Mary Ellen, Jacqueline (Milliennial and Oblate)

Katie Gordon, a key player in the growing Nuns and Nones movement, recently spent a few days at Mount St. Benedict Monastery on the first leg of a research tour. A graduate student in theological studies at Harvard Divinity School, Katie is melding two interests, broadcast journalism (radio and podcasting) and spirituality, in her research as she visits communities of women religious to produce podcasts highlighting the stories of the foundresses.

“I left the Catholic church at 14 and that somehow freed me to seek spirituality. Through a number of encounters, I realized that women religious are about living community and embracing spirituality and pursuing justice and ministering to the poor—and that connecting Millennials like myself with them could help us find what we seek,” she explained. Nuns and Nones-sponsored gatherings of Millennials and older religious women came out of such realizations.

A growing group of Benedictine-inspired Millennials, some of whom have relocated to Erie specifically to live near and work with the Erie Benedictines, and a few tail-end Baby Boomer sisters met with Katie at a local eatery to share ideas on faith, seeking and meaning. Following introductions, each person spoke of the questions she holds in her own seeking: “How do I respond to the injustice and violence that surround us…” “Can I be more intentional in my living and in my neighborhood…” “Are there ways to share the monastic tradition more broadly…” “Where am I spiritually…” “How do I love more deeply…”

The cross-generational and uniting theme of the conversation was seeking spiritual depth and living one’s life with purpose and intentionality. “Everyone is a seeker at some level,” noted Sister Mary Ellen, “but the difference is that some people seem to be not only more attuned to opportunities to pursue spirituality but actually choose to embrace those opportunities. And that is what brings us together and leads us to want to make a difference in our world.”

In reflecting on the experience the following day, Katie commented that the moniker “nuns and nones” may not always be accurate. “Seekers and Sisters” is one idea she has heard. But a better fit for Erie, she said, is, “Millennials and Monastics.”

Pictured are (L to R around table) Stephanie, Sister Anne, Sister Stephanie, Sister Val (Millennial and Monastic), Sister Ann, Sister Linda, Erin, Katie, Sister Mary Ellen, Jacqueline (Milliennial and Oblate).

Whether you’re a Millennial, GenXer or Boomer, below are links to multiple ways to explore monasticism with the Erie Benedictines. Or, come for a visit and create your own way!

• Online at Monasteries of the Heart
• Short-term live-in monastic experience
Oblate way of life for women and men
Visit the monastery, stay a night or two
• Consider vowed monastic life
• Receive our monthly events newsletter (sign up on home page left column)
• Make a retreat or get spiritual direction
• Read a book by Erie Benedictine Joan Chittister

Story contributed by Linda Romey, OSB.