MAX ZAMBRANO – STAFF WRITER
Sr. Joan Chittister is set to return to Chautauqua at 1 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9 in the Amphitheater.
“Sr. Joan has been a blessing for Chautauqua for over 35 years, and she is so beloved here,” said Director of Religion Maureen Rovegno. “She is one of only a few who receive a standing ovation just for walking out onto the stage.”
Opening Week Seven’s Interfaith Lecture Series themed “Creating an Economy that Works for All,” Chittister will present her lecture “To Exist, A Society Based on Money Needs a Population Based on Heart.” Chittister is a Benedictine Sister of Erie, Pennsylvania. Her awards, distinctions and titles are seemingly countless.
“For 50 years, she has passionately advocated on behalf of peace, human rights, women’s issues and church renewals,” according to her website.
“A much sought-after speaker, counselor and clear voice that bridges 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,” her bio reads.
She has won numerous awards for her works, including 16 Catholic Press Association awards. Her latest release, 2019’s The Time Is Now: A Call for Uncommon Courage, will soon be followed by The Monastic Heart: 50 Simple Practices for a Contemplative and Fulfilling Life, set to release on Sept. 21.
“The activist, nun, and esteemed spiritual voice who has twice appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday (in 2015 and 2019) sounds the call to create a monastery within ourselves — to cultivate wisdom and resilience so that we may join God in the work of renewal, restoration, and justice right where we are,” reads the book’s synopsis by Penguin Random House.
Chittister is a founding member of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, which is partnered with the United Nations. Last year, Chittister’s Interfaith Lecture, held on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform, was during a week on feminism, and her lecture was titled “A Woman’s Life: A Good Event/Bad Event World.”
Her name is etched in Erie’s history, too. The Joan Chittister Lecture Series began in 2014 at Mercyhurst University in Erie, along with the founding of the Helen Boyle Memorial Archive in Honor of Joan D. Chittister, according to her website. She was the prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie for 12 years. She received her master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and her doctorate from Pennsylvania State University for speech communications theory. In 1996, she was an elected fellow at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge University.
Rovegno said that Chittister is the perfect keynote speaker for this week’s theme.
“The Benedictine spirituality has shaped her life and work with a deeply compassionate heart that cares for others in all ways — spiritual, physical and material,” Rovegno said. “Sr. Joan is a pragmatist who has never failed to speak truth to power.”
Chittister understands the world’s culture is centered around materiality, Rovegno said.
“Her lecture title,” Rovegno said, “… arises from her lifelong work of proclaiming, in her own inimitable style and power, a preferential option for the poor.”