Feast Day of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is January 4

“The accidents of life separate us from our dearest friends, but let us not despair. God is like a looking glass in which souls see each other. The more we are united to Him by love, the nearer we are to those who belong to Him.”
Elizabeth Ann Seton

On Jan. 4, we celebrate the Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. A wife, mother, widow, sole parent, foundress, educator, social minister and spiritual leader, Elizabeth Bayley Seton, born Aug. 28, 1774, was the first person born in the United States to become a canonized saint by the Catholic Church.

After the death of her husband, she converted to the Catholic faith. She was asked by the bishop to be the foundress of a community of women to serve people in need in the recently independent United States. She brought this community together in Emmitsburg, MD. From there they went to various places in the United States to serve the sick and establish schools and homes for orphans of the epidemics that were frequent at the time. Several of these local communities joined with the Daughters of Charity in 1850, and so Elizabeth Seton is seen as the American foundress of the Daughters of Charity, who with the Sisters of St. Joseph, sponsor Ascension Health. Our four Daughters of Charity who arrived to begin our St.Vincent Health ministry in 1881 also came from Emmitsburg.

The legacy she left now includes six religious communities with more than 5,000 members, hundreds of schools, social service centers and health ministries throughout America and around the world. Her life of prayer strengthened her to be a loving person toward God, her family, her neighbor, and all of creation. She undertook works of mercy and justice. Not only did she and her community care for orphans, widows and poor families, but they also addressed unmet needs among persons oppressed by multiple forms of poverty, with special concern for children who lacked educational opportunities.

Today, with the Daughters of Charity, we remember Elizabeth Ann Seton. Through her example, may we learn to live lives of prayer and serve the other, so the love of God is present to those in need. May our ministry continue her work, serving all with mercy and compassion.