Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
Jesus’ question in today’s Gospel is one He addresses to each of us: “What are you looking for?” The two disciples of John the Baptist heard John speak of Jesus as the “Lamb of God”…and thus wanted to get to better know Jesus. Jesus invited them to “come and see” – and the rest is history!
The appeal of Jesus’ loving personality has touched the hearts of many people over many centuries, to ourselves as women and men of the 21st Century. We human beings seek fulfillment, and love, and a sense of purpose and self-worth, and companionship…to name but a few longings of our hearts! As the Holiday Season winds down and we embrace the New Year we realize the blessings of God that are our faith, our Church, and our vocation; we have reason to hope, to embrace the opportunities and challenges of each day.
And so today we celebrate the life of a disciple of Jesus who graced our American soil: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a holy woman of the 18th Century, and the first American-born saint.
Born in 1774, Elizabeth Ann was raised as an Episcopalian. She married William Seton and helped rear their five children. She was drawn to the Catholic faith by an Italian Catholic family she met while traveling in Italy with her husband. After her husband’s untimely death from tuberculosis at age 30, Elizabeth Ann fully embraced the Catholic faith – and subsequently opened a parish school in Baltimore to support her family and witness her Catholic faith, despite protests from her anti-Catholic family and friends.
Drawn by Elizabeth’s faith and fervor, other young women joined Elizabeth Ann in her approach to education and the Christian life. In 1809 they formed the American Sisters of Charity, following the rule of St. Vincent de Paul; later they helped found other schools and orphanages. By the time of her death on January 4, 1821, the community had expanded their ministries as far west as St. Louis with some twenty schools and orphanages.
Like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton we respond to Jesus’ question / invitation and seek to live for God as we share the Good News of Jesus in our needy world. May the new year 2020 be blessed by God, as inspired by great women and men saints — including our own holy Founder, St. Paul of the Cross, whose birthday we celebrated yesterday. May we “Sing to the Lord a new song, for God has done wondrous deeds…” Jesus calls us, Jesus loves us, Jesus missions us to help share the Good News!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the Vocation Director for Holy Cross Province. He lives at St. Vincent Strambi Community in Chicago, Illinois.