Giving Guide: The Benedictine Sisters Of Pittsburgh

In 1878, the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh moved into a small house on Washington Street in Allegheny City. Despite being unsettled and in need of more suitable housing, the Sisters immediately began living their work. Within four years they opened missions inTexas, New Baltimore, and Florida, were teaching in five local schools and opened the first Academy for girls in Pittsburgh. Within five years they moved into the monastery where they would remain in until 1926.

For the next 150 years the Sisters educated over six thousand young women, fought against social injustice for minorities and coal miners, opened an Academy for girls, served as administrators in schools, mental health facilities and homeless programs. They worked tirelessly as foster parents, in jails, youth ministry, held specialized art classes, and were professors in local universities. Collectively, the Sisters provided countless hours volunteering in food banks and elder day programs, and serving on community councils and boards. They provided pastoral counseling and established an internationally attended leadership coaching program.

Just like the many well-established and much needed nonprofit organizations in the area, the Sisters have served the community well. Unlike nonprofits, the focus of the Sister’s mission-seeking God in community, ministry, and prayer-is inclusive of all people and all needs. There are fewer Sisters today, and age is catching up to the strongest of them, yet their commitment to the wellbeing of humankind, their outrage at injustice, and their desire to learn more about the many beautiful cultures that make up our community, has never been stronger.

The Sisters begin and end each day in devotion. Throughout the year they commit themselves to challenging social hardships through the power of their collective prayer. Requests by countless donors arrive daily by phone, email, or mail for the Sisters to bend their will toward this illness or that, the needs of this relative or that sick child. The words of the Prioress, Sister Karen Brink, found on Facebook and Instagram, never cease to encourage the many followers of the Sisters to find their better self and unleash goodness and courage in the face of adversity and injustice.

In a return to the days of long ago, the Sisters have slowed down the rhythm of their lives. Only a few Sisters now share the schedules of others with jobs outside the monastery. But behind the walls of their home the hard work of a spiritual life continues. Sister Jeanne and Sister Benita pass on the requests for prayers, Sister Mary James and Sister Anne dedicate hours every day in chapel prayer, Sister Florence delivers Communion to patients in a hospital. It never ends, from Sister Julie to Sister Anne, to Sister Mary Agnes, and Sister Michael and on and on, our losses, our shortcomings, our dreams, and our futures are ever present and live like music in the prayers of the Sisters.

To donate to the Benedictine Sisters, visit



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