Joan Chittister has been one of the church's key visionary voices and spiritual leaders for more than thirty years. A Benedictine Sister of Erie, PA, Sister Joan is an international lecturer and award-winning author of more than 35 books.
She is the founder and executive director of Benetvision: a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality located in Erie.
Currently she serves as co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, a partner organization of the UN, facilitating a worldwide network of women peace builders, particularly in Israel and Palestine. In March she was an organizer of "Making Way for the Feminine for the Benefit of the World Community," a conference held in Jaipur, India.
She is the co-chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives with Rabbi Michael Lerner and Cornel West.
In April 2005, her commentary from Rome on the month-long papal events was aired on CNN, the BBC and all national US media networks. On Easter Sunday 2006, she was a guest on "Meet the Press with Tim Russert" and in 2004, she was a guest of "NOW with Bill Moyers."
A regular columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, Sister Joan has received numerous awards and recognition for her work for justice, peace and equality, especially for women in the Church and in society.
Seven of her books have received awards from the Catholic Press Association, including her 2005 best seller, Called to Question, a spiritual memoir. Her 1990 book on monastic spirituality, Wisdom Distilled From the Daily, is considered a classic in contemporary spirituality. Her most recent books include, Welcome to the Wisdom of the World (Eerdmans 2007) and The Gift of Years, (BlueBridge 2008).
Sister Joan has appeared with the Dali Lama at the First Emory (University) Summit of Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding last October and at Seeds of Compassion in April 2008. She attended the Fourth UN Conference of Women in Beijing and the 1999 Parliament of World Religions in Cape Town, South Africa.
In 1996 she was an invited fellow and research associate at St. Edmund's College, Cambridge University. In 2001 she held the Brueggeman Chair of Ecumenical Theology at Xavier University. She was a member, from 2003-06, of the international and inter-religious Niwano Peace Foundation in Tokyo who award the prestigious annual Niwano Peace Prize.
She has served as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, (an organization of the leaders/superiors of the over 67,000 Catholic religious women in the US), president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses (1974-90), and was prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie for 12 years. Sister Joan received her doctorate from Penn State University in communications theory.