Joan Chittister

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Joan Chittister
Joan Daugherty

(1936-04-26) April 26, 1936 (age 82)
DuBois, Pennsylvania, United States
ResidenceErie, Pennsylvania
Alma materUniversity of Notre Dame
Penn State University
TitleRoman Catholic Nun

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


Chittister was born April 26, 1936 to Daniel and Loretta Daugherty. Her father died when she was very young and her mother married Harold Chittister, whom Joan Chittister describes as an abusive alcoholic, although she remained sufficiently attached to him that as an adult she chose to retain his surname.[3]

She was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph, and later attended Benedictine Academy in Erie, Pennsylvania. Shortly after joining the Benedictine community, Chittister contracted polio.[3] 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 was also a research associate of St. Edmund's College, Cambridge University.

In 1971, she 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. A past president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, she is co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, an international network of women and men spiritual and community leaders.

In 2001, the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life directed the Benedictines to forbid her to speak on discipleship at the Women's Ordination Worldwide conference in Dublin. Supported by her religious community, Chittister spoke anyway. Chittister says that women’s ordination has never been her primary focus.[6] Chittister's books deal with monasticism, feminism and women's role in society, interfaith work, humility, and other topics.

She writes a column for the National Catholic Reporter, "From Where I Stand".[7]

Penn State University holds the Joan D. Chittister Literary Archives.[8]

A biography of Sister Joan was released by Orbis Books in October 2015, Joan Chittister: Her Journey from Certainty to Faith by Tom Roberts.[9]


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 and has appeared on Oprah Winfrey's "Super Soul Sunday" in March 2015 and on "Meet the Press" and "Now with Bill Moyers".

She is the executive director of "Benetvision",[10] a publications ministry of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie.

Recent publications[edit]

Joan Chittister: Essential Writings a compilation from her books, articles and speeches, was published by Orbis Books in August 2014 (ed. Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, Mary Hembrow Snyder, PhD).[11]

  • Radical Spirit, Random House: New York (2017), an adaptation of the Rule Of Benedict for contemporary times.
  • Two Dogs and a Parrot, BlueBridge (2015).
  • In God's Holy Light, Franciscan Media: Cincinnati, OH (2015).
  • Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life, Image Books: Colorado Springs, CO (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)
  • Art of Life, Twenty-Third Publications (2012)
  • Following the Path: The Search for Passion, Purpose and Joy, Random House: New York (2012)
  • Happiness, Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, MI. (2011), Novalis: Toronto, ON. (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), Novalis: Toronto, ON. (2010)
  • The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for The 21st Century, Revised edition, Crossroad Publications (2010)
  • Uncommon Gratitude, Liturgical Press: Collegeville, MN. (2010)
  • The Liturgical Year, Thomas Nelson: Nashville, TN. (2009) ISBN 978-0-8499-4607-3
  • Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir, Sheed & Ward. (2004): Catholic Press Association 1st place award 2005[2]


  1. ^ The Encyclopedia of Christian Literature, Volume 2, edited by George Thomas Kurian, James D. Smith III, Scarecrow Press, 2010, p.252.
  2. ^ a b "NCR Author Profile". NCR. 2010-07-22. Archived from the original on December 21, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-26.
  3. ^ a b 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. ^ Grossman, Cathy Lynn. "Sister Joan Chittister, the dissident nun, shares her secret life", Religion News Service, October 26, 2015
  7. ^ "From Where I Stand | National Catholic Reporter". Retrieved 2018-07-03.
  8. ^ "Joan Chittister papers, 1971-2017 9468". Retrieved 2018-07-03.
  9. ^ Roberts, Tom (2015). Joan Chittister: Her Journey from Certainty to Faith (Reprint ed.). Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. ISBN 9781626981980.
  10. ^ "Benetvision". Retrieved 2010-12-26.
  11. ^ Noble, Barnes &. "Joan Chittister: Essential Writings". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2018-07-03.

External links[edit]