Mary Claire Kennedy, SSJ, to be recognized during National Catholic Sisters Week

Mary Claire Kennedy, SSJ, along with two other well-known Erie Catholic Sisters, Marlene Bertke, OSB, and Rita Brocke, RSM, will be honored for their many years of dedicated social activism as part of National Catholic Sisters Week, on Sunday, March 11 at 2 p.m. at Mount St. Benedict, 6101 E Lake Rd. The public is welcome. 

The title of the event, Women Who are Called, reflects the local theme for National Catholic Sisters Week which is celebrated each year from March 8-14.  The event will include a short video tribute to each Sister, produced by Lilly broadcasting.  Additional honors and a blessing also will be part of the afternoon.  Each sister will be presented with a tree to be planted in her community as a living and growing reminder of her contribution to social justice.  Another tree will also be planted in the community in an area yet to be identified with a plaque honoring the three sisters. 

Sister Mary Claire Kennedy, SSJ, ministered as Social Justice Coordinator for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania from 2000-20017 after a distinguished career in science education and research. As Social Justice Coordinator, Sr. Mary Claire was known as an outspoken crusader against human trafficking. She organized a local collaboration in 2005 that offered a series of presentations and workshops featuring Dr. Kevin Bales, author of Disposable People. She helped form the Northwest Pennsylvania Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition.  She was involved in many local and global initiatives to promote peace and justice, providing advocacy and action on issues from war to health care, from the environment to human rights. She led the SSJ Thanksgiving Dinner for numerous years which has provided thousands of free Thanksgiving dinners to those who are alone or less fortunate. In 2015 she received the Archbishop Oscar Romero award from Mercyhurst University which recognizes the accomplishments and commitment of local and international peace and justice leaders. She worked closely with other Erie Catholic Sisters in coordinating the local Take Back the Site vigils and she worked tirelessly to engage members of her congregation and the local community in advocating for the rights of others.

For more information on the Women Who are Called event, contact Betsy Wiest, Social Justice Coordinator,

The Sisters of St. Joseph will also host an evening for young women, ages 17-25, during National Catholic sisters Week, on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, beginning at 5:00 p.m. at the Sisters of St. Joseph Community Living Center, 5031 West Ridge Road. The evening will include an informal dinner and fireside chat about the many things God calls us to in our lives and how to be open to God’s call.  For more information or to RSVP (by March 9), contact Sr. Rosemary O’Brien or 814-836-4212

Billboards and television spots will also promote this year’s National Catholic Sisters week throughout the area and are funded through a grant from National Catholic Sisters Week.