St. Joseph Monastery (St. Marys)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

St. Joseph Monastery was an American Benedictine monastery of nuns, home of the Benedictine Sisters of Elk County, located in St. Marys, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1852, it was the first Benedictine monastery for women to be founded in the United States. The monastery operated until 2014.


The monastery was founded by Mother Benedicta Riepp, O.S.B., who was sent, along with two companions, from St. Walburga Abbey in Eichstätt, in the Kingdom of Bavaria. They had come at the invitation of Abbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., who had founded the first monastery of the Benedictine monks in the country in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He determined a need in the small town heavily populated with Bavarian Roman Catholic immigrants for religious presence and support, as well as an opportunity for the nuns to teach the children of these immigrants.[1]

From these beginnings, and as the community grew, so too did the mission of the Sisters. They expanded into health care and operated the Andrew Kaul Memorial Hospital in the town. New foundations were quickly established the country, first in Minnesota, and by 1863 extending to Kansas, from which over fifty monasteries spread across the country and oversea.[2]

This monastery can be considered the backbone of the Congregation of St. Scholastica, a federation of the monasteries which trace their heritage from St. Joseph Monastery, which received the approval of the Holy See in 1922 (later renamed the Federation of St. Scholastica in 1974).[3] Originally it consisted of ten houses in seven states; now, it encompasses 22 monasteries in 15 states, Mexico and Brazil.[4]

In January 2014, it was announced that the 17 nuns of the monastery had voted to dissolve the community. This was done due to the fact that they were mostly aged and not growing. The nuns were to disperse to other Benedictine monasteries.[5] At the time of its closing, the nuns were still active in both teaching and assisting in various parishes in the area.[6]


  1. ^ "History of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie". The Benedictine Sisters of Erie. 
  2. ^ "Statement from the Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, Bishop of Erie". Diocese of Erie, PA. 
  3. ^ "Federation Directory". Federation of St. Scholastica. 
  4. ^ "A Brief Timeline of Our Community History". Mount St. Scholastica. Retrieved September 24, 2015. 
  5. ^ Deppen, Colin (January 15, 2014). "After 160 years, historic St. Marys convent to close". The Bradford Era. 
  6. ^ Smith, Peter (January 19, 2014). "Benedictine Sisters close St. Joseph Monastery in Elk County". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

External links[edit]