Oldest Benedictine convent in U.S. closing in Elk County

01.16.14 | Bob Price

The nation's first Benedictine convent, which opened more than a century ago, is closing after its 17 remaining members unanimously agreed it was time to dissolve the Pennsylvania community. The Benedictine Sisters of Elk County agreed this week to close St. Joseph Monastery. Located about 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, the convent was founded in 1852. The remaining nuns, who range in age from 58 to 91, hope to relocate or transfer vows to other Benedictine communities,  The sisters formerly served as teachers at area schools and health care providers, including the former Andrew Kaul Memorial Hospital in St. Marys, which they administered until 1978. Benedictines follow the guide to religious life set forth in the rule of St. Benedict, which calls for devotion to prayer and work.