An American saint

Daily Reading for January 4 • Elizabeth Seton, Founder of the American Sisters of Charity, 1821

Elizabeth Seton did not live long ago and far away. She died a little over 150 years ago. New York, Baltimore, and the Maryland countryside were the setting for her work and growth in holiness. She was a wife and mother, a religious sister and educator, a woman who faced crises and setbacks which she surmounted by love, devotion, and openness to the grace of God. In proclaiming her a saint, the Church invites each of us to respond like her to the challenges in our own life.

She was an American religious and foundress of a religious community, and she remains a model for religious today. She was the “mother” of the Catholic school system in the United States, whose efforts underline the importance of the educational apostolate. She was a Roman Catholic whose spiritual life was nourished by long membership in the Episcopal Church. The coming-together in her of two great Christian traditions is an inspiration to contemporary work for Christian unity.

Archbishop Joseph Bernardin, quoted in The Soul of Elizabeth Seton by Joseph I. Dirvin, C.M. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990).

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