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Mother Seton celebration begins

(1/12) The Daughters and Sisters of Charity, Emmitsburg, held commemorative festivities last week marking the beginning of a year-long celebration of the legacy of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first United States-born saint, founded the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph’s, the first native community for religious women to be established in our country, July 31, 1809.

Seton also established Saint Joseph’s Academy and Free School in Emmitsburg, the first free Catholic School for girls.

On Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009, the Daughters and Sisters of Charity along with hundreds of visitors celebrated the Saint’s feast day along with marking the opening of the the bicentennial celebration of the saint’s legacy in the Emmitsburg area that began nearly 200 years ago.

The event last Sunday opened with a mass in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, 333 South Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

The Daughters unveiled a three-dimensional art display that commemorates the two hundred years of history, service, and dedication that was begun in 1809 by a small band of young women under the inspiration of Elizabeth Ann Seton.

The 63" by 42" by 5" collage, created by artist Lawrence M. Romorini, features over 215 photos, publications, and pieces of actual memorabilia portraying the chronology of events reflecting the story of "the (local) religious community, rooted in Vincentian values, the extraordinary life of Elizabeth Ann Seton, and the compassionate ministry that grew from a mustard seed into a world-wide mission of charity in health, education, child care, and social services to persons in need, of many cultural and ethnic backgrounds," Mary Staub, spokeswoman for the Daughters of Charity, reported.

Themes are embroidered on a ribbon to reflect the enduring values of "Humility, Simplicity, and Charity’"characteristic of the Sisters and Daughters of Charity, Staub said.

Other events planned during the year-long celebration include retreats and pilgrimages for youth and adults, special masses, and a live reenactment the weekend of July 31, August 1 and 2.

A list of events can be found at

Sister Betty Ann McNeil, provincial archivist, stated, "We would hope that anyone who visits the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Saint Joseph’s Valley will appreciate the beauty and peace of the area and to reconnect to the legacy of charity that has grown over the past 200 years."