A Benedictine Sister of Erie, Pennsylvania, Joan Chittister is a best-selling author and well-known international lecturer on topics of justice, peace, human rights, women's issues and contemporary spirituality in the church and in society. She presently serves as the co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, a partner organization of the United Nations, facilitating a worldwide network of women peace builders, especially in the Middle East. Chittister has won 14 CPA awards for her books. Her most recent include Between the Dark and the Daylight (Random House), Two Dogs and a Parrot (Blue Bridge, 2015) and In God’s Holy Light (Franciscan Media, 2015). A biography, Joan Chittister: Her journey from certainty to faith, by NCR’s Tom Roberts, was released in 2015 by Orbis Books. Chittister is the founder and executive director of Benetvision, a resource center for contemporary spirituality in Erie.

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What the US needs most right now, what we lack, is community

Joan Chittister: The sense of "community" in the U.S. is broken in two. How can a nation, an institution, a people, a family function well without the sense of community that carries us through dark and dangerous times?

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Me? Be a sister? You're not serious.

Joan Chittister: I came to understand that I am simply "this kind of person." The magnet in me pointed to the prayer life, the life of prophetic witness, the life of the conscious spiritual relationship with God.

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'I thought of religious life, but feared I wouldn't make it'

Joan Chittister: Too often, it is the desire to be perfect that traps us from becoming everything — anything — we might possibly become. Fear of failure is particularly toxic where the spiritual life is concerned.

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What are we seeking? Old orders or new? Or not at all?

Joan Chittister: The orders of sisters are dwindling in number. Can the church as we know it function as widely as it has without a body of sisters who model the faith and give their hearts to the world around them?

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