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Mercyhurst professor collaborates on new Joan Chittister book

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

(l-r) Sister Mary Lou Kownacki, Sister Joan Chittister, Mary Hembrow Snyder

Mercyhurst professor Mary Hembrow Snyder, Ph.D., has collaborated with Benedictine Sister Mary Lou Kownacki on Joan Chittister: Essential Writings, the latest addition to the prestigious Modern Spiritual Masters Series from Orbis Books.

"When Mary and I were asked to select the essential from Sister Joan’s voluminous body of work, the theme we traced through all her writings was passion," Kownacki explained. "So we made our choices around the three passions that drive Joan’s life—Passion for God, Passion for Life and Passion for Justice."

The Modern Spiritual Masters Series has gathered together the writings of some 53 major spiritual figures from many religious traditions, including Thomas Merton, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Simone Weil, Dalai Lama, St. Therese of Lisieux, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Flannery O’Connor. Erie Benedictine Joan Chittister, best-selling author of more than 50 books, columnist and noted international lecturer, now joins that select group.

Each book in the series contains an introduction about the teacher's legacy, along with relevant biographical information and commentary. Kownacki provided the introduction in this book and Snyder the commentaries. "Sister Joan will celebrate her diamond jubilee as a Benedictine this fall," Snyder said. "Sister Mary Lou and I are overjoyed that the publication of our book honoring her life’s work coincides with this milestone in her religious life."

Kownacki has worked with Joan Chittister for more than 45 years. She is the author of A Monk in the Inner City. Snyder is a professor of religious studies at Mercyhurst, where she also directs the Center for Mercy and Catholic Studies. She has edited Spiritual Questions for the Twenty-First Century: Essays in Honor of Joan D. Chittister (Orbis 2001). This spring, she coordinated the creation of the Helen Boyle Memorial Archive in Honor of Joan D. Chittister, OSB, on the Mercyhurst campus.

Tom Roberts, an editor-at-large for The National Catholic Reporter who is writing a biography of Chittister, writes, "Sr. Joan Chittister, richly formed by tradition, but refusing to stay mired in past centuries, carries the questions and seeks the insights that will shape the future. This collection provides an authoritative introduction to the breadth and depth of her considerable body of work."

The book is available for early purchase from Benetvision.