"At times when I might have
been met with difficulties,
Providence suddenly placed
in my path people who could
help me.”

St. Louise de Marillac


Elizabeth the Mother

By S. Judith Metz

Elizabeth at the bedside of her ill oldest daughter Anna Maria. Drawing by S. Ruth Jonas, SC.

We continue to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s death this week looking at Elizabeth’s many attributes. In the following article, S. Judith Metz remembers Elizabeth as mother, a role she cherished.

From her earliest years Elizabeth Seton was attracted to the image of God as her father; later she grew to love Mary as her heavenly mother. These spiritual relationships proved to be models for her own parenting. Being a mother is a place where she met her grace in a most fulfilling way. She thrived on walking with her children through each step of their lives, yet she was able to release them to their own destinies blessed with her unconditional love.

Elizabeth clearly cherished her maternal role. She delighted in her children and devoted a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to caring for them in every step of their development. The young woman became the mother of five within seven and a half years of her marriage, and in her way of reckoning, each child was born to be treasured. Her oldest, Anna Maria, was from the beginning her companion and comfort. Two sons, William and Richard, followed. Both were sources of delight as well as concern to their mother as they sought to find their ways in the world. Catherine and Rebecca were the youngest, and to their doting mother, the brightest of the lot. From the start, Elizabeth’s children “wound themselves around her heart.”

When they were young she referred to them most frequently as her “angels.” Using affectionate nicknames, she effused over their small accomplishments in her correspondence. She describes how “there is as much kissing and admiring Ricksy as there used to be nursing him,” and how she was so taken with Catherine’s red locks and “saucy behavior” that she “could have ate her up.” She told her friend, Julia Scott, “My world is my family and all the change to me will be that I can devote myself unmolested to my treasure.”

  The joy Elizabeth experienced in her family life was not without tension and anxiety, as she endured illness, the threat of epidemic disease, bankruptcy, and finally the death of her dear husband, William, just 10 years into their marriage. The turn of events left Elizabeth a single parent raising her children in severely reduced circumstances. Despite the challenges of their situation, Elizabeth looked back on this period in their “dear little humble dwelling” with delight “at the hours of love around [their] fire, or little table or at the piano, [their] little stories every evening, lively tunes, and thousand endearments after the lessons, and work of the day when each one helped [their] dear Mother.”    

After the family’s move to Baltimore, Maryland, and with discussions of the formation of the Sisters of Charity, Elizabeth made clear her first priority when she wrote to a friend, “[F]or me, here I stand with hands and eyes both lifted, to wait the adorable Will – the only word I have to say to every question is, I am a Mother, whatever Providence awaits me consistent with that plea I say Amen to it.”

During her years in Emmitsburg, Maryland, as Mother of the Sisters of Charity, Elizabeth continued to nurture and support her children. She suffered untold anguish over the long illness and deaths from tuberculosis of her oldest and youngest daughters, Anna Maria and Rebecca. As her sons moved toward adulthood and set out on their own paths she never hesitated to support them in any way she could, despite setbacks and disappointments. And through it all she cherished the support and friendship of her dear Catherine. As she herself attested: “I am a Mother, whatever providence awaits me consistent with that plea I say Amen to it.” 

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Directed Spirituality Retreats
Jun 4 @ 4:00 pm – Jun 10 @ 12:00 pm

S. Judith Bonini, IHM, has been involved in retreat/spiritual direction for more than 20 years. Presently she is pastoral services director at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Motherhouse in Monroe, Michigan. Her deep love is spiritual direction and retreat ministry. S. Judith invites the person to name God’s invitation, to reverence and to respond to this mystery as it unfolds in one’s life experiences.

S. Maureen Heverin, SC, received formal training in spiritual direction at the Jesuit Renewal Center in Milford, Ohio, in 1990. Her ministry experience includes elementary and adult education, social service work, spiritual formation, and leadership in the Sisters of Charity. Presently, S. Maureen’s ministry in the Spirituality Center includes spiritual direction, directing retreats and facilitating various spiritual programs.

S. Mary Ann Humbert, SC, participated in the summer Institute in Spiritual Direction out of Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois, and studied in the Christian Spirituality program at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska. She completed her internship in retreat and spiritual direction at Milford Spiritual Center where she subsequently worked as part of the internship training team. She has conducted prayer classes, retreat opportunities and adult educational sessions for men and women from diverse religious traditions. She is trained in bio-spirituality and focusing and has been journeying with others as a spiritual director since 1973.

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S. Marie Vincentia Roney

Sister Marie Vincentia Roney died June 1, 2023 at the age of  90 in Mother Margaret Hall, the nursing facility for the Sisters of Charity, Cincinnati, Ohio. Sister Marie Vincentia was born on July 8, 1932 to Edward M. and Josephine (Lerch) Roney in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was one of 13 children, six girls and seven boys. She was a Sister of Charity for 71 years. READ MORE.