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Mercyhurst welcomes Cokie Roberts, Sr. Joan Chittister

Monday, March 27, 2017

Author and political commentator Cokie Roberts and Joan D. Chittister, OSB, have never met in person. But on April 25, these two progressive Catholic women whose voices are heard around the world will appear “In Conversation” at Mercyhurst University.

They’ll take the stage together at 7 p.m. in Mercyhurst’s Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center in this year’s installment of the Joan D. Chittister Lecture Series. The date also marks the release of Chittister’s latest book, Radical Spirit: 12 Ways to Live a Free and Authentic Life, which will be available for sale following the lecture.

The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. They will be available beginning Monday, April 3, from the box office of the performing arts center. There is a two-ticket limit; tickets will not be mailed or held. The box office is open Monday-Friday from noon to 5 p.m.

Roberts has generously donated her customary speaking fee, which will be divided between the Mercy Center for Women and the Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners. Those attending will be invited to make additional contributions to these two causes.

As Roberts and Chittister look forward to their conversation, their admiration for each other is clear.

“Cokie Roberts has been at the center of things, at the heart of U.S. politics, for over 30 years. Her insights—and her honesty about them—are the gold standard of U.S. journalism. That’s why I want to probe her perspective on life as it is now and, more importantly, what she feels will come out of it in the near future,” Chittister said.

Roberts has said of Chittister, “She certainly is willing to speak truth to power and whether it be in Washington or Rome, those domes don’t seem to intimidate her. She fights for peace, for justice and for women’s rights, and for women’s rights particularly within the Church.”

About the speakers:

Cokie Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News and NPR. In her more than 40 years in broadcasting, she has won countless awards, including three Emmys. She has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame, and was cited by the American Women in Radio and Television as one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting. In addition to her reporting, Roberts has written six New York Times bestsellers, most dealing with the roles of women in U.S. history.

In addition to her appearances on the airwaves, Roberts and her husband, Steven V. Roberts, write a weekly column syndicated in newspapers around the country by Universal U Click. The couple also wrote two books together: Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions for Interfaith Families, published in 2011, and From this Day Forward, an account of their now 50+-year marriage and other marriages in American history. The book immediately went onto The New York Times bestseller list, following Cokie Roberts’s number one bestseller, We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters, an account of American women’s roles and relationships over time. Her other New York Times bestsellers include Founding Mothers, published in 2004; Ladies of Liberty (2008); and Capital Dames, about women and Washington in the Civil War (2015).

Cokie Roberts holds more than 25 honorary degrees, serves on the boards of several nonprofit institution, and was appointed by President Bush to his Commission on Service and Civic Participation. In 2008 the Library of Congress named her a “Living Legend,” one of the very few Americans to have attained that honor. She is the mother of two and grandmother of six.

Joan Chittister, OSB, one of the most influential religious and social leaders of our time, is a Mercyhurst graduate who later earned a master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a doctorate from Penn State University. Penn State University is the primary site of her literary archive collection.

For 40 years she has passionately advocated on behalf of peace, human rights, women’s issues, and church renewal. A much sought-after speaker, counselor and clear voice that bridges across all religions, she is also a best-selling author of more than 50 books, hundreds of articles, an online column for the National Catholic Reporter, and a blog for the Huffington Post. She has received numerous writing awards and honors for her work, including 13 Catholic Press Association awards, and is a noted international lecturer as well as a former fellow at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge University, England.

Joan Chittister serves as co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, a partner organization of the U.N., facilitating a worldwide network of women peace builders. She was an adviser for the groundbreaking report, “A Woman’s Nation,” led by Maria Shriver (2009) and was a member of the TED prize-sponsored “Council of Sages,” an interfaith group that developed a Charter for Compassion (2009) being promulgated worldwide with all faith organizations.

She served as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an organization of the leaders of Catholic religious women in the US; as president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses; and as prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie for 12 years. Joan Chittister is executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality, and the founder and animator of Monasteries of the Heart, a web-based movement sharing Benedictine spirituality with contemporary seekers.

Visit for updates on Chittister’s activities.

About the Chittister Lecture Series:

Mercyhurst’s Joan D. Chittister Lecture Series began in 2014, when Mercyhurst also dedicated the Helen Boyle Memorial Archive in Honor of Joan D. Chittister, OSB, in Hammermill Library. The archive space at Mercyhurst and the lecture series have been endowed by the Boyle Family in honor of Helen Loebelenz Boyle, Mercyhurst Class of 1934, a longtime friend of Sister Joan.

For information, contact Mary Hembrow Snyder, Ph.D., professor of theology and religious studies and director of the William C. Sennett Institute for Mercy and Catholic Studies at Mercyhurst, at