"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

“Be diligent in serving
the poor. Love the poor,
honor them, my children,
as you would honor
Christ Himself.”

St. Louise de Marillac

 

Timeless Love for Mother Seton

By Katelyn Rieder, Communications coop

S. Pat Newhouse volunteering at the front desk of The National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s welcome center.

On Sept. 22, 2023, The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland, opened a new feature that excites many: an interactive museum dedicated to Mother Seton’s life, accomplishments, and more. People flocked to the ribbon-cutting ceremony to see the $4 million installment for themselves. One of these people was Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, Pat Newhouse, who was volunteering during the month as a docent at the shrine.

S. Pat made her first journey to the shrine with a few other Sisters in 2004—nearly 20 years ago. “I’ve been coming ever since, I’ve only missed three times,” she said.

When she is not volunteering at the shrine by giving tours in the basilica, working in the gift shop, or doing other helpful tasks, S. Pat enjoys participating in the Seton Book Club. Every several months, the shrine welcomes individuals to read a book related to Elizabeth Seton. During the weeks allotted to each book, the club meets to discuss the most recent section of reading. S. Pat either acts as a regular member or as a guest speaker to wrap up a given book.

“I’ve made a lot of friends,” said S. Pat—both through the book club and as a docent. People come from all over the world to visit the shrine, and the new museum has only amplified that.

There are three main sections to the museum: Seeker (before Elizabeth Seton became Catholic), Servant (when she started her community in 1805), and Saint (becoming canonized). Each section has various artifacts, interactive displays, and hands-on activities to help visitors learn about Elizabeth’s life.

Additionally, two rooms are dedicated to revolving displays. Currently, various needlework art from the schoolchildren of St. Joseph’s School is displayed in “Fancywork,” and “Getting in the Habit,” shows the kind of apparel Daughters of Charity have worn throughout the years.

“In the Servant room they have Mother Seton’s cap and shawl, rosaries that the kids had, just a lot of things that went way back. The cap and shawl look so tiny,” said S. Pat. “I always thought Mother Seton was tall like me at 6 feet, but she was tiny—only 4 feet, 10 inches!”

(From left) S. Louise Lears, Ann O’Neill (the second miracle of St. Elizabeth Seton’s canonization), S. Lois Jean Goettke, and S. Pat Newhouse at the new museum’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

One particular artifact of note is the portraits of her maternal grandparents—Dr. Richard Charlton and Mary Bayeux—donated by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. These two portraits help give museum-goers a better understanding of what Elizabeth Seton’s young life looked like. They have been essential, particularly in the “Seton Family Treasures” area of the museum, where artifacts and other photographs showcasing the Seton family are displayed.

Across from the exhibits, the shrine also has an extensive gift shop, where items range from rosaries to socks. S. Pat especially enjoys helping out there—as she can spread the joy of some of the books she has read and talked about in book club. “There’s always a job—they could always use the help,” she said.

When asked what she would tell someone considering making a visit to the shrine, she enthusiastically responded: “Come! I’m always inviting people to the shrine, because it just brings you closer to Mother Seton. She is a woman for everyone.”

To learn more about The National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, visit their website here.

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