Joined Together in the Mission of Charity

January 4: A Day for a Saint

The founding congregations of the Sisters of Charity Federation trace their roots to the first sisterhood native to the United States, the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph’s (S.C.), founded in 1809 by Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (Mother Seton) near Emmitsburg, Maryland.

In a letter dated March 23, 1809, Elizabeth exclaimed enthusiastically about “the joy” of her “soul at the prospect of being able to assist the Poor, visit the sick, comfort the sorrowful, clothe little innocents, and teach them to love God!” Two days later on March 25 Elizabeth pronounced private vows of chastity and obedience at Saint Mary’s after which Archbishop John Carroll bestowed the title “Mother” on her. On July 31, she, her sister-in-law Cecelia, and nine young women who had joined them, began what was to become the American foundation of the Sisters of Charity.

Mother Seton and the early members of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph’s shaped the first native sisterhood in the United States, creating a truly American community, based on the Vincentian Rule of the Daughters of Charity. Despite their humble beginning, the American Sisters of Charity launched multi-faceted ministries and became trailblazers in many fields, especially in education.

Mother Seton died January 4, 1821, and became the first American-born citizen to be beatified (1963) and canonized (1975). January 4th is a day for celebrating the Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. For additional resources: Learn more about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg, MD. View the FAMVIN collection of Mother Seton resources.


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