Joan Chittister

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Joan Chittister

Joan Daugherty

(1936-04-26) April 26, 1936 (age 86)
Alma materUniversity of Notre Dame
Penn State University
TitleRoman Catholic nun

Joan Daugherty Chittister, O.S.B. (born April 26, 1936[1]), is an American Benedictine nun, theologian, author,[2] and speaker. She has served as Benedictine prioress and Benedictine federation president, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women.


Early life[edit]

Chittister was born on April 26, 1936, to Daniel and Loretta Daugherty. Her father died when she was very young and her mother married Harold Chittister. Joan Chittister described her step-father as a violently abusive alcoholic.[3]


She was educated by Sisters of St. Joseph, and later attended St. Benedict Academy in Erie, Pennsylvania. Chittister holds a master's degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in speech communication theory from Penn State University.[4] She is also an elected fellow of St. Edmunds College at the University of Cambridge.


In 1971, Chittister was elected president of the Federation of St. Scholastica, a federation of twenty monasteries of Benedictine women in the United States and Mexico, established in 1922.[5] She was a prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania, for 12 years and is a past president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. She serves as co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women (2016-2019), an inclusive international network of spiritual and community leaders.[6][7] With this organization, she works to bring a spiritual perspective to conflict resolution fueled by pressing economic and ecological crises across the globe.

Chittister says that women's ordination has never been her primary focus.[8] Her books deal with monasticism, justice and equality especially for women in church and society, interfaith topics, peace and others. She has won 16 Catholic Press Association awards for her books and numerous other awards for her work, including 12 honorary degrees from US universities.

She writes a column for the National Catholic Reporter, "From Where I Stand".[9]

Penn State University holds the Joan D. Chittister Literary Archives.[10]

A biography of Chittister was released by Orbis Books in October 2015, Joan Chittister: Her Journey from Certainty to Faith by Tom Roberts.[11]


Chittister's stances on contraception and women's ordination are known to contradict the official teachings of the Catholic Church.[12][13] She was one of two nuns prohibited by Church authorities from attending the first Women's Ordination Worldwide conference on June 30, 2001. However, she not only attended, but gave the opening address.[14] In another instance, Chittister rejected the Church's strictures against the 23 nuns who ran an advertisement in the New York Times attacking the Church's teaching on abortion.


Chittister has authored over 50 books and over 700 articles in numerous journals and magazines including: America, US Catholic, Sojourners, Spirituality (Dublin), and The Tablet (London). She is a regular contributor to and, appeared on Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday in March 2015 and in May 2019, on Meet the Press with Tim Russert and Now with Bill Moyers.

She is the executive director of "Benetvision",[15] a publications ministry of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie.

Recent publications[edit]

Joan Chittister: Essential Writings, a compilation from her best writing from books, articles and speeches, was published by Orbis Books in August 2014 (ed. Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, Mary Hembrow Snyder, PhD).[16] In 2019, Dear Joan: conversations with women in the church, editor Jessie Bazan was published by Twenty-third Publ.

  • The Time Is Now, Random House: New York (2019).
  • What Are You Looking For? Paulist Press (2019).
  • A Little Rule for Beginners, Benetvision, Erie (2018).
  • " We Are All One," Twenty-Third Publications. (2018)
  • Radical Spirit, Random House: New York (2017).
  • Two Dogs and a Parrot, BlueBridge (2015).
  • In God's Holy Light, Franciscan Media: Cincinnati, OH (2015).
  • Between the Dark and the Daylight," Image Books (2015)
  • Our Holy Yearnings, Twenty-Third Publications. (2014)
  • A Passion for Life, (New release) Orbis (2013)
  • For Everything a Season, (New release of There is a Season), Orbis (2013)
  • The Way of the Cross, Orbis Books: Maryknoll, NY (2013)
  • The Sacred In-Between, Twenty-Third Publications (2013)
  • Following the Path" Random House: New York (2012)
  • Happiness, Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, MI. (2011).
  • The Radical Christian Life, Liturgical Press. (2011)
  • The Monastery of the Heart, BlueBridge. (2011)
  • God's Tender Mercy, Twenty-Third Publications: Mystic, CT. (2010)
  • The Rule of Benedict, Revised edition, Crossroad Publications (2010)
  • Uncommon Gratitude, Liturgical Press: Collegeville, MN. (2010)
  • The Liturgical Year, Thomas Nelson: Nashville, TN. (2009)
  • "The Gift of Years," Blue Bridge (2008)
  • "In Search of Belief," Liguori, (2006)
  • Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir, Sheed & Ward. (2004).


  1. ^ The Encyclopedia of Christian Literature, Volume 2, edited by George Thomas Kurian, James D. Smith III, Scarecrow Press, 2010, p.252.
  2. ^ "NCR Author Profile". NCR. 2010-07-22. Archived from the original on December 21, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-26.
  3. ^ Cummings, Kathleen Sprows. "'Joan Chittister'", Commonweal, April 25, 2016
  4. ^ Salai SJ, Sean. "Faith and Justice: 14 Questions for Sister Joan Chittister OSB", America, September 10, 2014.
  5. ^ Federation of St. Scholastica
  6. ^ "Joan Chittister". Global Sisters Report. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  7. ^ "About Us - GPIW - Global Peace Initiative Women". Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  8. ^ Grossman, Cathy Lynn. "Sister Joan Chittister, the dissident nun, shares her secret life", Religion News Service, October 26, 2015.
  9. ^ "From Where I Stand | National Catholic Reporter". Retrieved 2018-07-03.
  10. ^ "Joan Chittister papers, 1971-2017 9468". Retrieved 2018-07-03.
  11. ^ Roberts, Tom (2015). Joan Chittister: Her Journey from Certainty to Faith (Reprint ed.). Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. ISBN 9781626981980.
  12. ^ "The Ordination of Women: A Question of Authority of Theology by Joan Chittister, O.S.B." Retrieved 2021-08-17.
  13. ^ Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
  14. ^ "Full text of Sister Joan Chittister's Address at the Women's Ordination Worldwide conference in Dublin, June 30, 2001". Retrieved 2021-08-17.
  15. ^ "Benetvision". Retrieved 2010-12-26.
  16. ^ Noble, Barnes &. "Joan Chittister: Essential Writings". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2018-07-03.

External links[edit]