Sister Mary Joy meets Philadelphia’s new Archbishop

Sister Mary Joy Benson attended the installation Mass for Archbishop Nelson J. Perez as the 10th Archbishop of Philadelphia on February 18. She was among the overflow crowd of about 1,500 people who filled the cathedral church. Hundreds more watched the Mass on screens in the adjacent chapel.

Archbishop Perez greeted everyone in attendance at the cathedral’s communion rail after the ceremonial Mass. Sister Mary Joy was shaking his hand when photographer Sarah Webb, with Catholic News Service, snapped her photograph.

Sister Mary Joy’s signature hat

“I was fourth in line to greet him,” said Sr. Mary Joy. “I didn’t even know about the photograph being taken until two people recognized me by my hat and told me that I was in the Archdiocese magazine!” she said.

Archbishop Perez was ordained a priest in 1989 in the Cathedral Basilica SS Peter and Paul — the same cathedral where he was installed as archbishop on February 18. The new archbishop is entering the Archdiocese of Philadelphia amid several trials and tribulations. He has spoken openly about the challenges and has pleaded with the region’s 1.5 million Catholics to return to the church. “It’s time to come back to the Church,” he said.

You can find more photographs of the February 18 Mass online at

Sister Mary Joy is active in the Philadelphia community. In 2015 she participated in a Quaker-led action to end Mountaintop Removal and came away from the experience enlightened and inspired. After reading Sr. Sharon O’Grady’s book review of Father Thomas Berry’s Selected Writings on The Earth Community in the February 2015 issue of the Province newsletter Items of Interest, Sr. Mary Joy felt moved to share with readers the impact the eco-action had on her. Read the story.

Story extracted from and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette is the Communications Coordinator for Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America. She is a career photojournalist who has served in various capacities of print, broadcast, and corporate communications. Jeanette is devoted to creation and is particularly focused on saving pollinators and other wildlife species and their habitat. She is an ethical vegan and created the website