“The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly to do it in the manner he wills it; and thirdly to do it because it is his will.” — Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
The first native born saint of the United States of America, Elizabeth Ann Seton greatly impacted the growth of the Roman Catholic Church in America. She founded the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows With Small Children, New York City’s first private charitable organization, and the U.S. Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph.
Seton was also responsible for the foundation of the parochial school system in the United States. All this she did in the span of forty-six years while rearing her five children as a widow. In a letter to a friend, she wrote, “But God has given me a great deal to do, and I have always and hope always to prefer his will to every wish of my own.” A wonderful example of trusting in the goodness of God’s providence.
Hallmarks of Seton’s spiritual life include fervent devotion to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and having lost her mother at an early age, Elizabeth found great comfort in the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Church says officially: “In Emmitsburg, Maryland, USA, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton who, after having been widowed, professed the Catholic Faith and worked competently at educating girls and feeding impoverished children as a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph, which she founded.” (Martyrologium Romanum, 2005)
Interesting fact: Seton is buried in Emmitsburg, Maryland, beside her nephew, James Roosevelt Bayley, who became bishop of Newark in 1853 and the eighth Archbishop of Baltimore in 1872.
For Further Learning…
Several weeks ago I learned about a terrific resource by Diana von Glahn called The Faithful Traveler™, a TV series available on EWTN that tours amazing churches, shrines, and places of pilgrimage throughout the United States. Two places Diana explores are the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in New York City and the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in historic Emmitsburg, Maryland, a small town in the foothills of the Catoctin Mountain which is part of the Blue Ridge chain. The Faithful Traveler provides insights on the history, art, and architecture of many American sites and is accompanied by an outstanding soundtrack featuring music by many well-known Catholic musicians.
Season One of the series is now available for purchase on DVD and includes all thirteen episodes aired on EWTN. I have been watching and enjoying my copy the last two weeks and have learned a great deal about Elizabeth Ann Seton while taking a pilgrimage with Diana from the comfort of my home. When my two-year old looks at the DVD cover, she points to Diana and says, “Mary Poppins!” While Diana is every bit delightful and entertaining, Mary Poppins she’s not. She’s better, and the Faithful Traveler she is! Do yourself a favor and explore the sites with her, too.