In celebration of Women’s History Month, we continue our profiles of women from Erie who are making a difference.
For 50 years, Sister Joan Chittester has been a voice for social justice and equality, especially for women all over the world.
She calls Erie home, but Chittester continues a global mission with remarkable passion. In too many places, including the US, she still sees women not getting an equal voice.
“Half of the resources of the human race are either underdeveloped, underused, ignored or invisible. No wonder we can’t solve our problems.”
We spoke with Chittister as she prepares in Ireland for upcoming lectures.
She just finished her latest book, ‘The Time is Now… A Call for Uncommon Courage’. That makes between 50 and 60 books. Her inspiration coming first from the woman who raised her.
She says, “My mother was a strong and brilliant woman, and everything I do is in her name.”
Sister Joan also credits the nuns who taught her and still fuel her desire for change.
“They ate brown bread and black coffee so we could be educated. For what? For what? It has to be for something.”
On the state of the church, Chittister agrees with Pope Francis on the issue of clericalism and the push for reform.
“We have made the priestly class some sort of special human being and we wonder why we can’t deal with it. And yet, it was nuns in Erie and all over the world who 50 years ago, began the declericalization of the church…said, ‘we don’t have to appear to these women as products of the 13th century'”.
Sister Joan Chittister has worked in more than 40 countries so far and has no plans to slow down.
“Until women in Erie, Pennsylvania can walk down the street at night and come home safe, until our daughters can go to campuses where parents can hope they will not be found beaten in bushes… until women have that kind of dignity and security, I will not quit. I will not quit.”
For the extended interview with Sister Joan Chittister, see below: