Feast of St. Joseph

(portions of the text below are based on research by Sr. Betty Ann McNeil, D.C.)

March 19 marks the feast of Saint Joseph, a saint who was especially dear to the heart of Elizabeth Ann Seton.

During her year in Baltimore, Elizabeth discovered the significance of Saint Joseph. The Sulpicians obtained the first statue of Joseph for their newly dedicated chapel at Saint Mary’s Seminary (Paca Street). Saint Joseph was also gaining prominence on the liturgical calendar. No doubt his guardianship of the Child Jesus must have been consoling to Mrs. Seton as a widow and sole parent of five young children. According to tradition, Mother Seton named the area where she settled Saint Joseph’s Valley, and the area is still informally known by that name.

Mother Seton originally planned to name her community Sisters of Saint Joseph. After arriving in Emmitsburg she chose the title Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph’s. This legal name was used by the Province of Emmitsburg until 2011 when it combined with three other former provinces to create today’s Province of St. Louise.

The building known today as the White House was built by Mother Seton in 1810 and originally known as Saint Joseph’s House. It was the Mother House for her community until ca. 1845. Saint Joseph’s Central House, headquarters from 1845-1964, is now the site of the National Emergency Training Center, part of FEMA. Headquarters for the Emmitsburg Province from 1964 to 2011 was St. Joseph’s Provincial House, the building we occupy today. The building, known today as St. Joseph House, houses the Provincial Archives, the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, active communities of Daughters of Charity, retirement facilities for Daughters and lay people. The life of Saint Joseph is depicted in stained glass windows located in the foyer of the Basilica at the Seton Shrine.

Mother Seton instructed Saint Joseph’s Class, comprising pupils from the Emmitsburg area. Her school, founded 1810, became Saint Joseph’s Academy. The current Mother Seton School traces its roots to her establishment. Developing from Saint Joseph’s Academy, Saint Joseph College was a liberal arts college for women which chartered in 1902 and served until 1973. The college grounds are now part of the National Emergency Training Center.

On the feast of St. Joseph in 1885, a fire broke out at St. Joseph’s Central House. Seminarians from Mount St. Mary’s, along with townspeople and fire companies, worked together to put out the fire. Since then, seminarians from the Mount have been invited to a special dinner on the campus on St. Joseph’s feast day in gratitude for their help in putting out the 1885 fire. Learn more about the 1885 fire

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Filed under Emmitsburg, Feast Days, Paca Street, Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's, Sulpicians

Feast of Louise de Marillac

Louise de Marillac

Louise de Marillac (image used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

Today, we mark the feast day of St. Louise de Marillac, who died March 15, 1660.

“In the name of God, my dear Sister, reflect often that it is not enough to have good intentions or for our wills to be inclined to do good solely for the love of God because, when we received the commandment to love God with all our heart, we also received a second commandment which is to love our neighbor.”

(Louise de Marillac to Anne Hardemont, November 13, 1653. L.383 – Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac: Correspondence and Thoughts, edited and translated by Sr. Louise Sullivan, p. 434-435)

Links to related content on our blog:
Louise’s first letter to Vincent de Paul

Louise’s Pentecost Experience

Series of posts from 2013 with accounts of Louise’s canonization in 1934

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National Catholic Sisters Week – Sister Phylis Peters and Proyecto Juan Diego

Sister Phylis Peters (image courtesy of the Diocese of Brownsville, TX)

Sister Phylis Peters (image courtesy of the Diocese of Brownsville, TX)

For National Catholic Sisters’ week, we have been featuring the work of individual Daughters of Charity. We close our series with a story on a current ministry of the Province of St. Louise, Proyecto Juan Diego, in Brownsville, Texas. The story below originally appeared in the newspaper of the Diocese of Brownsville, TX.

Cameron Park programs offer families a hand up
The Valley Catholic

BROWNSVILLE – Minerva Zamorano, 33, who relocated to this country from Matamoros, Mexico a year ago, is taking GED classes at Proyecto Juan Diego in Cameron Park.

Having a high school equivalency certificate means a better life for her and her two children, ages 10 and 16, she said.

“I want to earn my GED and then pursue an education in the medical field,” Zamorano said in Spanish. “All of the schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED, so this is the first step.”

For the last 11 years, Proyecto Juan Diego has given families like the Zamoranos a hand up in life.

Proyecto Juan Diego, a non-profit organization, was established in 2003 by Sister Phylis Peters of the Daughters of Charity. The mission of the organization is to educate and empower low-income families to make healthy choices and become socially responsible members of society. This is done through various programs that promote health care, families, education, social and civic engagement.

Proyecto Juan Diego is located at 2216 Eduardo Ave. in the heart of Cameron Park, one the largest and poorest colonias in the United States. The latest census figures estimate the neighborhood has a population of 6,963 with about 40 percent under the age of 18.

The need for an organization like Proyecto Juan Diego in Cameron Park became evident when Sister Peters, a registered nurse, completed a medical survey of 755 homes in the neighborhood.

“We noticed that health care and family social issues were major areas of concerns for the residents of Cameron Park,” Sister Peters said.

One of the oldest and “most successful” programs, according to Sister Peters, at Proyecto Juan Diego has been the family program. Staff and trained volunteers make regular home visits and assist families for an extended period of time to help meet their health and social needs with the goal of improved outcomes for children and families.

The home visitors serve as a link between the family and the services available through Proyecto Juan Diego, government programs and other resources.

Programs include afterschool tutoring, health screenings, citizenship classes, English as a Second Language classes, stress management activities and more.

Although Proyecto Juan Diego serves families of all faiths, some Catholic programs, such as a summer Bible program, are offered in partnership with San Felipe de Jesus Church. The parish is located a few blocks from the center.

Residents and community leaders have also advocated for better public safety in Cameron Park. Street lights have been installed throughout the neighborhood, more roads have been paved and there is increased presence of law enforcement. Voter turnout has also increased by almost 20 percent, thanks to several outreach programs.

Brownsville resident Carolina Herrera has been volunteering or working with Proyecto Juan Diego since its first days. The Reynosa, Mexico native is now a supervisor with the organization, overseeing several parenting classes, the summer Bible program and other programs.

Several volunteers and even some clients have gone on to earn paid positions at Proyecto Juan Diego, Herrera noted.

“Proyecto Juan Diego not only helps the community but its workers as well,” she said. “I have earned several certifications since I began serving here. I have a job that allows me to work in ministry while taking care of my family. I couldn’t be happier.”

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