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William C. Sennett Institute for Mercy and Catholic Studies

Dr. Hembrow Snyder's class serves lunch at Lodge on SassDr. Hembrow Snyder's class serves lunch at Lodge on Sass

The work of the Institute for Mercy & Catholic Studies includes an innovative effort to enhance both the mission and Catholic identity of Mercyhurst University.

To this end, it will highlight the breadth and depth of the Catholic intellectual tradition, as well as the five critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

They are:

Caring for the poor, especially women and children

Caring for immigrants

Caring for the earth/creation

Promoting nonviolence

Combating racism

The Center will also collaborate with the Diocese of Erie to provide educational opportunities that can vitalize faith/reason through public scholarship and hospitable dialogue.


Endowed Chair


The Endowed Chair in Mercy and Catholic Studies owes its birth to the generosity of two Erie Catholics and college trustees: immediate past president, William C. Sennett and the late Charles A. Dailey, Jr.
Dr. Mary Hembrow Snyder, Professor of Religious Studies, is the first recipient to hold the Endowed Chair in Mercy & Catholic Studies. A member of the faculty of Mercyhurst University since 1986, Dr. Snyder has a doctorate in theology from St. Michael's College, University of Toronto, and has authored/edited four books, the most recent being Joan Chittister: Essential Writings, edited with Mary Lou Kownacki and published by Orbis Books in July 2014. 


Dr. Hembrow Snyder's class serves lunch at Lodge on Sass



The William C. Sennett Institute for Mercy and Catholic Studies has sponsored a variety of public events and lectures, including:

"The World Will Be Saved By Beauty"
Speaker: Kate Hennessy
Oct. 9, 2018

"Spirituality and Gender"
Speaker: Dr. Gregory Baker
Oct. 4, 2017

“Professing Faith in a Post-9/11 World” 
Speaker: Richard Rodriguez
Sept. 29, 2016

Religious Life: Crossroads or Crisis?
Panelists: Daniel P. Horan, OFM; Sister Anne Curtis, RSM; Brother Anthony Weber, OCSO; Sister Charlotte Zalot, OSB
Sept. 24, 2015

Is Economic Solidarity Bad Economics?
Reflections on Pope Francis and Catholic Social Thought
Speaker: Christine Firer Hinze, Ph.D.
Oct. 1, 2014

Opening of the Helen Boyle Memorial Archive in honor of Joan D. Chittister, OSB
Speaker: Tom Roberts, author of the biography Joan Chittister: Her Journey from Certainty to Faith
April 30, 2014

Aquinas and Natural Law: Resources for Women’s Equality
Speaker: Dr. Lisa Sowle Cahill

Faith and the Cosmos: Exploration into God, Evolution and the Mystery of the Universe
Speaker: Dr. Ilia Delio

The Future Church 
Speaker: John Allen, National Catholic Reporter

The Catholic Intellectual Tradition 
Speaker: Dr. Terrence Tilley, Fordham University


Joan Chittister Archive

Mercyhurst partnered with Penn State University and the Erie Benedictine Community to preserve the literary archives of Sister Joan, a 1962 Mercyhurst graduate. While the archive will be housed on Penn State’s main campus, both Mercyhurst and Mount St. Benedict will maintain permanent archive rooms with access to her books, articles and other memorabilia. In addition, Mercyhurst will host the annual lecture series.

chittister eventchittister event

See more photos and video here