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Our History

The Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh is a monastic community of women that traces its roots back over 1500 years to its fifth century founder, St. Benedict of Nursia, Italy and his twin sister, St. Scholastica.  The first Benedictine Sisters who traveled to America came from St. Walburg’s Abbey in Eichstatt, Bavaria. From this ninth century Abbey, Sister Benedicta Riepp and her two companions established the original branch of the Benedictine Sisters in America in 1852. The first Benedictine Sisters' Monastery was located in St. Marys, Elk County, Pennsylvania where it remains to this day.

These Benedictine pioneer women came to teach immigrant German children on the farms and in the villages of the United States in the 1850’s. Under the leadership of Mother Adelgunda Feldmann, the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh were established in 1870 in Carrolltown, PA. Like their original foremothers, these women spread throughout southwestern Pennsylvania and Ohio, educating children and bringing the Gospel message to their families. Upon their arrival on the Northside of Pittsburgh in 1885, this monastic community founded the Monastery on Canal Street. The School they started was especially known for teaching fine arts, primarily music, painting, and needlework. The Sisters were also asked to staff St. Mary’s Commercial High School on the Northside.

In 1927 the Benedictine Sisters moved their monastery to Ross Township. Mount St. Mary’s High School for Girls opened in 1931 to meet the educational needs of young women. By 1936, Mount St. Mary’s had evolved into a secondary high school known as St. Benedict Academy. The Sisters owned and staffed the school until 1985.

As they broadened their ministries to include human and social services as well as their involvement in education, their commitment to the Benedictine charism and mission continued to guide them.

These women of St. Benedict continue to be faithful to his rule and the Gospel values through their devotion to prayer, community life and ministry. They reach out to the people in the community-at-large by their involvement in: social services; care of the aged; education; counseling; pastoral ministry; daycare; visual arts; administration; hospital ministry; foster parenting; tutoring; nursing; peace and justice advocacy; and spiritual direction.

The original monastery was built to be both the academy and the home for the Sisters. By 1947, the school enrollment had grown so large the monastery building could no longer adequately provide for the students’ needs.  So a four story building was built for St. Benedict Academy and from 1950 to 1985 thousands of young women passed through its doors.

When St. Benedict Academy closed, the building became known as St. Benedict Hall and the non-profit service agencies with whom the Sisters collaborated. From 1985 to 2010 countless people received care through HEARTH, which provided housing for homeless women with children; Meals on Wheels, Mercy Behavior Health , the Benedictine Senior Center, and Easter Seals Adult Day Care Center.  Sisters served as staff and helped these programs in numerous ways.

The ever increasing cost of maintaining large buildings impelled the Sisters to seek new ways to be good stewards of the gifts entrusted to them.  After a thorough study of possibilities and much prayer, the Sisters decided to build a new, smaller monastery that would be environmentally sound and more appropriate to the needs of the Benedictine Community.  In December of 2011, land was purchased in Bakerstown, PA; the current monastery was sold in May, 2012; the Sisters celebrated the groundbreaking for the new monastery in June, 2012.  Now the Sisters continue their age-old monastic way of prayer, community life, and ministry at the new St. Benedict Monastery in Bakerstown.

Today the Benedictine Tradition LIVES at 3526 Bakerstown Road!

 

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  Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh  |  3526 Bakerstown Road  |  Bakerstown, PA 15007  |  724-502-2600
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