Get to know Sister Joan
Joan Chittister is one of the most influential religious and social leaders of our time. For 50 years she has passionately advocated on behalf of peace, human rights, women’s issues, and church renewal. A much sought-after speaker, counselor and clear voice that bridges across all religions, she is also a best-selling author of more than 60 books, hundreds of articles, and an online column for the National Catholic Reporter. She has received numerous writing awards and honors for her work, and is a noted international lecturer as well as a former fellow at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge University, England.
In 2019 Sister Joan was the featured guest of Oprah Winfrey on "Super Soul Sunday," about her book, The Time is Now. Her first interview with Oprah was in 2015. She has appeared on “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert, “60 Minutes,” “CBS News,” “NOW” with Bill Moyers and numerous BBC and NPR programs including “Weekend Edition Sunday” with Liane Hansen and “On Being” with Krista Tippett. She is one of the most popular and requested speakers at the iconic Chautauqua Institution in southwestern New York State.
In 2014 the Joan Chittister Lecture Series was inaugurated at Mercyhurst University, Erie, PA, in conjunction with the dedication of the The Helen Boyle Memorial Archive in Honor of Joan D. Chittister. In 2015 Sister Joan was "In Conversation" with Maria Shriver, and in 2017 with Cokie Roberts for the lecture series.
She was an adviser for the groundbreaking report, “A Woman’s Nation,” led by Maria Shriver (2009) and was a member of the TED prize-sponsored “Council of Sages,” an interfaith group that developed a Charter for Compassion (2009) being promulgated worldwide with all faith organizations.
She served as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an organization of the leaders of Catholic religious women in the US, president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses, and was prioress of the
Benedictine Sisters of Erie for 12 years. She received her doctorate in speech communications from Penn State University, the primary site of her archive collection.
Joan Chittister is a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA. She is executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality and the founder and animator of Monasteries of the Heart, a web-based movement sharing Benedictine spirituality with contemporary seekers.
Sister Joan’s archive is a collaborative effort of Pennsylvania State University, Mercyhurst University and Mount Saint Benedict Monastery. “This three-way partnership that we share with Mercyhurst and Penn State is a unique way to present and share Joan’s achievements with a broad audience,” explained Sister Anne Wambach, then prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie at the 2014 dedication. “Nothing could please us more than to bring this dream to fruition and to celebrate the giftedness of a woman we call sister ─ a woman who embodies a vision of peace and justice that inspires and challenges all of us to do the same."
The Eberly Family Special Collections Library at Penn State is the chief repository of Sister Joan's material. A formal dedication of the Joan Chittister archives was held at Penn State, October 14-15, 2015.
The Helen Boyle Memorial Archive in Honor of Joan D. Chittister is a permanent archive room at Mercyhurst University, Erie, PA, which is Joan Chittister's first alma mater. The room includes a 70-inch interactive screen on which visitors can read Chittister’s blogs, access some of her 50 books and watch videos of speeches she has delivered around the world. An annual Joan Chittister lecture series is also hosted by Mercyhurst University.
The Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA have also dedicated a permanent archive room at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery with access to her books, articles and memorabilia for study, research, enrichment and inspiration.