L to R: Nestor Puc Hoil, Manela May Chale, Josefina Martin Leon, Aide Varguez Pech, Nelsi Varguez Pech, Jessica Lizzet Chan Varguez, Manuel Uc, Azucena Santos Martin

Oblates in Mexico prepare for Oblate weekend

October 1, 2021

Every autumn, Erie Benedictine oblates look forward to their annual gathering at the monastery and the opportunity to renew their commitment as oblates. This year that gathering will again be virtual and will include time for prayer, learning, and reflection, as well as for connections with other oblates and sisters.... Our oblates in Merida, Mexico, have met twice as a group for prayer and reflection as they prepare to participate virtually in the October gathering with the entire community. They are grateful to Oblates Cari Serafin and Lanora Queckborner who translated materials so the oblate community in Mexico could participate in this preparation.


Mary Hembrow Snyder, Oblate, named Professor Emerita

Mary Hembrow Snyder, Oblate, named Professor Emerita

September 30, 2021

Mercyhurst University recently named Erie Benedictine Oblate Dr. Mary Hembrow Snyder a Professor Emerita of the University. Mary retired in 2020 after 34 years at Mercyhurst. In that time she served in a variety of capacities: Department of Religious Studies Chair, Dean of the Humanities, and inaugural Director of the Sennett Institute for Mercy and Catholic Studies. She also created the Catholic Studies minor as an interdisciplinary minor, securing courses and support from not only Religious Studies, but also Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics, and served as its first advisor.

Community of Life 2021

Community of Life 2021

September 30, 2021

Enroll your loved ones, living and deceased, in our Community of Life 2021 Program.

Our loved ones whom we have lost—whether recently or many years ago—are now part of the “Communion of Saints” in a new way. Through the celebration of All Saints and All Souls at the beginning of November, our Church remembers the entire Communion of Saints, those living and deceased, who have blessed our lives with their love. It’s a beautiful comfort our faith offers us.

And we, too, are part of that Communion of Saints, a belief that the Benedictine Sisters have been celebrating with you through our Community of Life Program since 1994.

Sister Mary (William) Hoffman

In Memoriam: Sister Mary (William) Hoffman

September 26, 2021

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie remember Sister Mary (William) Hoffman who entered into eternal rest on September 26, 2021.


Sister Pat Lupo listens to a conversation between Neighborhood Art House students and Mayor Joe Schember at the Climate Strike.

Benedictine Sisters support Climate Strike

September 25, 2021

Benedictine sisters, oblates, and children who participate in programs at the Neighborhood Art House and Emmaus Ministries' Kids Cafe were among those demanding a resolution to the climate crisis at a Climate Strike on September 24. About 200 people gathered at Perry Square, joining thousands of others in more than 2,000 cities and towns across the world who were participating in the Global Climate Strike. “The big thing is there are two big international conferences that are happening this fall. All over the world, people are asking political leaders to make strong climate pledges at those climate conferences,” Sister Anne McCarthy, Benedictines for Peace coordinator and organizer of the Climate Strike, said in a news interview.

Volunteers prepare to reopen

SBEC Treasures & Such reopens for participants

September 24, 2021

Treasures & Such is once again open for business, providing new and used household items for participants in St. Benedict Education Center’s job training and placement program. Treasures & Such had been closed since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sister Dorothy Stoner, SBEC’s Coordinator of Community Engagement, asked volunteers in June if some of them could get back together to begin planning the store’s reopening. Up to 10 volunteers responded to the call and met twice in July to plan, clean, and organize the store to get it ready for customers.


Benedictines for Peace: Calls and advocacy for refugees

Benedictines for Peace: Calls and advocacy for refugees

September 22, 2021

Benedictines for Peace is urging immediate phone calls to the White House and to state senators to share your concern about the thousands of asylum seekers and refugees at our southern border being deported to Haiti. Deporting thousands of refugees to Haiti when they have not come from Haiti and Haiti is in a state of emergency is unconscionable. Haiti is dealing with multiple emergencies: earthquake, COVID, tropical storms, and political crisis.


Sister Laura Beichner and Sister Laura Hallstein

Sisters don’t retire from “good work”

September 21, 2021

So, what does it mean when a Benedictine Sister of Erie “retires”? In a communal lifestyle, the “work” never ends, even with retirement, which is the world’s way of marking a shift in what we do with our days. The work may change to fit the abilities of aging bodies and minds, but monastics still continue the good work of creating community, prayer, and serving others.

Recently, two sisters who have spent many years working in internal structures within the monastery, Sisters Susan Hallstein and Laura Beichner, have “retired.”


Cynthia Aulenbacher works on a dress for a wedding party.

What's Going On In The Mending Place....

September 19, 2021

The Mending Place at St. Benedict Education Center is still taking in everything that needs mending: tears, broken zippers, sagging hemlines and drooping sleeves. The two seamstresses, Damanta Khadka and Cynthia Aulenbacher, will meet you at the curb to receive your work and any supplies (such as replacement zippers) needed. While classes are suspended because of COVID, mending continues and the seamstresses have taken on projects ranging from boat covers to wedding dresses and alterations of all kinds. The Mending Place is located at 330 E. 10th Street in Erie. Hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Call 814-452-4072, ext. 315 for information and scheduling.

Neighborhood Art House Silent Auction

Neighborhood Art House Silent Auction

September 9, 2021

The Neighborhood Art House Taste of the Arts Art Market opens to the public on September 14 but you can view the artwork now. Every year at the Taste of the Arts fundraiser, in addition to selling one-of-a-kind artwork by Art House students, local artists donate work to sell in a Silent Auction. This year there was an incredible outpouring of support: 22 pieces of artwork will be available for bidding, which is the largest selection ever offered at the Silent Auction. Starting bids range from $30 to $500.


Sister Kathy McCarthy shares Benedictine Spirituality Workshop and Retreat Experience

Benedictine Spirituality Workshop and Retreat Experience

September 6, 2021

“Monastic profession is more than a commitment to community,” explained Sister Kathy McCarthy as she shared her recent experience at BSWR—Benedictine Spirituality Workshop and Retreat. “It is about being available to the world in a different way, through our community relationships to be attuned to God and to be a positive presence in the world.”

Sister Kathy was at St. Benedict Monastery in Bristow, VA, from July 7-28 for the workshop and retreat designed for temporary professed Benedictine sisters anticipating perpetual monastic profession. This year’s theme was “Expanding Hearts: The Way of Profession.” After her return, Sister Kathy shared her experience with her sisters in Erie ...


Walking with psalm verses brings change, understanding, reminder

Walking with psalm verses brings change, understanding, reminder

September 4, 2021

Sister Mary Ellen Plumb shares her thoughts on the transformative power of the Psalms in her new column in the Erie Times-News: The psalms of Scripture have a long history in both the Jewish and Christian traditions. For my Benedictine community and me, they are fundamental to our daily Liturgy of Hours, our communal prayer.

When I was young, I asked a spiritual mentor whether she ever got bored praying the same psalms over and over again. Instead of a direct answer, she suggested a simple spiritual practice: Every morning, at Morning Praise, select one verse of one psalm, “tuck it into my heart” and carry it around with me all day. Then at Evening Praise, do the same and take that selected verse to sleep with me.


A call to deeper unity: our shared call to love

A call to deeper unity: our shared call to love

August 30, 2021

Sister Jacqueline Sanchez-Small offered these reflections on the readings from Deuteronomy, James, and Mark on Sunday, August 29.

Back in my wild college days, I went through a phase where I was absolutely fascinated by Judaism. I was active in Catholic student groups and always at Sunday Mass, but on Saturday mornings I snuck off to the local synagogue. What was I doing there? Rebelling against my Catholic upbringing? Maybe at first. But I kept going back because of what I saw on my first visit, which happened to be a holiday called Simchat Torah—which means the Joy of the Torah, or the Joy of the Law.


Seated, jubilarians Sisters Ann Bannon, Rose Ann Kolbas, Miriam Mashank, Pat McGreevy, Marlene Bertke. Standing Sisters Audrey Steff, Patricia Hause, Prioress Stephanie Schmidt, and Sister Mary Lou Kownacki.

Celebrate Jubilee 2021: 70, 60, and 25 year anniversaries

August 27, 2021

The Benedictine Sisters celebrated the anniversaries of monastic profession of eight sisters in August. At a special community dinner during their annual summer gathering at the beginning of August, they honored those marking 70 years of Benedictine life, Sisters Miriam Mashank, Patricia McGreevy, and Marlene Bertke and celebrating 60 years, Sisters Audrey Steff, Rose Ann Kolbas, and Mary Lou Kownacki, and celebrating their 25th jubilee, Sisters Ann Bannon and Patricia Hause. "I'm still can't believe I am celebrating 60 years as a Benedictine," said Sister Audrey. "They have been incredible years filled with so many good things, I hardly remember the challenges. I highly recommend this life!" READ MORE>>>
Listen to Prioress Stephanie Schmidt's reflections at the 25th Jubilee Celebration.

Sister Stephanie and the Big Bees team

Winners and sponsors Golf Tournament 2021

August 22, 2021

A drizzly day didn't dampen any spirits during the 3rd annual Benedictine Sisters Golf Tournament on August 16. “What a wonderful event,” said Mary Hoffman, third-time participant in the sold-out tournament held at Lake Shore Country Club in Fairview. “My team is already looking forward to next year, we had a great time!” “We are so grateful for our many sponsors, we have listed them all below,” said Michelle Basista, Benedictine Sisters Development Office, who coordinated the tournament. “We raised over $82,000, mostly in sponsorships, and those funds help the sisters continue their good works and meet the ongoing needs of the monastery.”

Support victims of earthquake and storm in Haiti

Support victims of earthquake and storm in Haiti

August 19, 2021

To donate to organizations with infrastructure and trust built over decades that are on the ground in Haiti offering care and compassion, consider Partners in Health or Kay Lasante Clinic. Partners in Health: Read Dr. Paul Farmers (PIH) letter from Haiti and donate here. Kay Lasante Clinic, cofounded by Bishop Tom Gumbleton of Detroit and Johanna Berrigan of the House of Grace Catholic Worker, is responding in their area, as they have for decades, with their all Haitian staff. To donate, send check with KAY LASANTE CLINIC in memo line payable to: House of Grace Catholic Worker, 1826 E. Lehigh Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125 or Bishop Tom Gumbleton, 1616 Bagley Street, Detroit, MI 48216.

Photo of Afghan girls by DVIDSHUB, available on Flickr. Creative Commons 2.0.

Urge Pres. Biden to Expand Aid for Afghans Fleeing Violence

August 19, 2021

From the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns: While the U.S. military withdraws from Afghanistan and the Taliban gains control, we watch with horror as panic and desperation spread among ordinary Afghans and especially among groups who will be most vulnerable under Taliban rule, including former U.S. allies, women and girls, and religious and minority groups.... In an effort to address this unfolding tragedy, we invite you to contact the Biden administration to urge them to greatly expand opportunities for Afghans seeking refuge from violence, including through humanitarian aid and particularly through welcoming the most vulnerable Afghans into the United States.


Prioress and council participate in LCWR Assembly

Prioress and council participate in LCWR Assembly

August 18, 2021

Sister Stephanie Schmidt, prioress, and members of the monastic council, Sisters Diane Rabe, Pat Hause, Ann Muczynski, Chris Kosin, and Linda Romey attended the virtual Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) annual assembly August 11-13. The conference theme, “The Realm of Transformation: Creating Space for the Future,” was presented over three afternoons via Zoom—which allowed the space for creating the future to be opened to nearly 1,000 participants and guests.