SSJ Annual Thanksgiving Dinner

The Sisters of St. Joseph are once again offering a free, traditional Thanksgiving Dinner to anyone alone, in need, or who 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, Erie, PA. 

The meal is free, and reservations are not required. Individuals who are homebound can request a home delivery by calling 814-836-4198 between 9 and 11 a.m. Tuesday, November 26, 2019. 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. The dinner became an annual tradition. Home deliveries were later added to accommodate those who are homebound.  In 2009, Gannon University became a partner providing a larger venue while still offering a convenient, downtown location.

 “Thanksgiving is one of our favorite days of the year,” said Sr. Mary Drexler, SSJ, president. “This simple ministry brings hundreds of volunteers and donors together to feed hundreds of neighbors a warm holiday meal. It’s unity. It’s neighbors loving and serving neighbors, and that’s what we’re all about.”  

Since the Sisters’ first Thanksgiving Dinner in 1989, it is estimated that nearly 26,000 meals have been served.  Last year, alone, close to 800 meals were served, including nearly 500 home deliveries.

“Gannon University and the Sisters of St. Joseph share a rich history and a mission of service to the neighbor,” said Keith Taylor, Ph.D., president of Gannon.  “Supporting the Sisters on Thanksgiving Day is a perfect fit for us. 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 gifts cover the cost of the dinner and provide needed resources to local shelters, food banks, and agencies throughout the year.

“It is kindness and generosity that make our Thanksgiving Dinner possible,” said Betsy Wiest, social justice coordinator for the Sisters of St. Joseph. “And these gifts just keep on giving after the holiday as we distribute leftover funds to area agencies that serve thousands of people throughout the year. We are so grateful to everyone who supports us in continuing this long-standing tradition.”

All volunteer positions are filled for this year.

Donations to the Thanksgiving Dinner Fund are always welcome and appreciated. For more information, call 814-836-4198. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *