Join us at the 30th annual SSJ Thanksgiving Dinner

The Sisters of St. Joseph will mark a milestone this year when we serve the 30th annual free Thanksgiving Dinner to anyone who is alone, in need or would otherwise not celebrate the holiday. The dinner will be served from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day at Gannon University’s Waldron Campus Center, 124 West 7th Street.  This year also marks the 10th year that Gannon University has hosted the event.

The meal is free and reservations are not required. Individuals who are homebound can request a home delivery by calling 814-836-4198 on Tuesday, November 20, 2018, between 9 and 11 a.m. This is the only time that requests for home deliveries will be accepted.

In 1989, Peter Lyons, owner of the Marketplace Grill restaurant in downtown Erie and Sister Theresa Marie Bohren, SSJ, teamed up to offer a Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant to those in the Erie community who might otherwise not enjoy the tradition. Nearly 140 meals were served and the dinner became an annual tradition. Home deliveries were later added to accommodate those who are homebound.

The event continued to grow and, in 2009, Gannon University became a partner providing a larger venue for the event while still offering a convenient, downtown location. Gannon has hosted the dinner ever since

“With the addition of Gannon University as a partner in 2009, we have been able to continue this long-standing tradition,” said Mary Herrmann, SSJ, president.  “And we will always be grateful to Peter Lyons and Sister Theresa Marie Bohren whose vision and desire to serve the community have made this possible. It is estimated that since the dinner began, more than 27,000 meals have been served.  Last year, close to 800 meals were served, including nearly 300 home deliveries.

“Supporting the Sisters of St. Joseph on Thanksgiving Day is a perfect fit for Gannon University,” said Keith Taylor, Ph.D., president of Gannon University. “Gannon and the Sisters share a rich history and a mission of service to the neighbor.  We’re delighted to open our campus on Thanksgiving and honored to be a part of this very special ministry.”


The annual Thanksgiving Dinner is possible because of hundreds of volunteers who lend time on Thanksgiving Day to work at the dinner. Equally as important are the hundreds of donors whose donations cover the cost of the dinner and provide needed resources to local shelters, food banks and agencies throughout the year.

“The generosity of all those who contribute in so many ways make the dinner possible.  In addition, thousands of people will benefit throughout the year from the services of local agencies who receive donations from the fund. We are grateful to Gannon University and to everyone who supports us in continuing this long-standing tradition,” said Betsy Wiest, social justice coordinator for the Sisters of St. Joseph.   

Donations may be made online (click here) or may be sent to the SSJ Thanksgiving Dinner Fund, Sisters of St. Joseph, 5031 West Ridge Road, Erie, PA, 16506-1249. For more information, call 814-836-4198.