Category Archives: Sisters of Charity Federation

Tracing the Rule: A Look at Charity Federation Treasures

Dee Gallo
Provincial Archivist

September 13 was a special day at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. As part of their celebration of the 40th anniversary of the canonization of Mother Seton, Seton Heritage Ministries hosted a gathering of sisters from the congregations of the Charity Federation. There were tours of the Shrine, its museum, and the historic houses in which Mother Seton and her Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s lived in the early 1800s. In addition, the Provincial Archives, along with our fellow Federation archives, arranged a special display of copies of the Federation congregations’ Rules, nineteenth-century documents that defined the religious characteristics and activities of their early sisters.

Some of these Rules clearly trace back to a single source: a manuscript copy of St. Vincent de Paul’s Regulations for the Daughters of Charity, the community he began in Paris in 1633. In August of 1811, Bishop Benedict Flaget brought the volume to Emmitsburg where it was adapted by Rev. John Dubois, founder of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. Then, with the approval of Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore and Rev. John Tessier, the new “American Rule” (Image 1) was presented to and accepted by Elizabeth Ann Seton and her community on 17 January 1812. In brief, this new Rule was clearly crafted for women religious working in the New World.

The Provincial Archives is privileged to have among its Rare Books the copy of the Vincentian Rule brought over by Bishop Flaget as well as the original American Rule accepted by Mother Seton. We shared those precious links to Setonian and Vincentian heritage with other Federation archivists who graciously brought their own copies of their Rules for the display. In addition to Emmitsburg’s , on exhibit were original copies of the Rules of the Sisters of Charity of New York (Image 2); the Sisters of Charity of Convent Station, New Jersey (Image 3); and a scan of the first page of the Rules for the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, KY (Image 4). In this blog, we share those images along with others from the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati (Image 5) and the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, Charleston, S.C. (Image 6).

By comparing and contrasting the various Rules, one finds that the links among the Charity congregations are as rich as threads in a tapestry. For example, Bishop Flaget, then prelate of neighboring Bardstown, KY, brought to Catherine Spaulding’s congregation in Nazareth a copy of the same Rule accepted by Elizabeth Ann Seton’s community; Mother Spaulding, however, chose to adapt theirs slightly differently– and in definitely more “American” English. Showing yet another link is a page from the manuscript of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati’s Rule which bears the language of the approvals of both Archbishop Carroll and Rev. Tessier given to the Seton document in 1812. Finally, the Rule for the South Carolina Sisters shows a link to Emmitsburg via Bishop John England of Charleston, who had procured a copy and proposed it for the congregation of Sisters which he started in 1829.

Our thanks to the archivists of the Sisters of Charity of New York, Sisters of Charity of Convent Station, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, and Sisters of Charity of Nazareth for granting permission to share images from their Rules. Thanks to Sr. Noreen Neary, archivist of the Sisters of Charity of Convent Station, for assisting with the Rules display at the National Shrine.

Image 1: Daughters of Charity, Emmitsburg (image courtesy of Daughters of Charity Province of St. Louise Archives, Emmitsburg, MD)

Image 1: Daughters of Charity, Emmitsburg, MD

Image 2: Sisters of Charity of New York (courtesy Sisters of Charity of New York)

Image 2: Sisters of Charity of New York

Image 3: Sisters of Charity of Convent Station, NJ (image courtesy of Sisters of Charity of Convent Station, NJ)

Image 3: Sisters of Charity of Convent Station, NJ

Image 4: Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (image courtesy of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth)

Image 4: Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, KY

Image 5: Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati (image courtesy of Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati)

Image 5: Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, OH

Image 6: Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, Charleston, S.C. (image courtesy of Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy)

Image 6: Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, Charleston, S.C.

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Filed under Sisters of Charity Federation, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Sisters of Charity of Convent Station, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Sisters of Charity of New York, Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's

Preservation Projects: Margaret George Treasurer’s Notebook

Treasurer's Notebook of Sister Margaret George (used with permission of the Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

Treasurer’s Notebook of Sister Margaret George (used with permission of the Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

The Provincial Archives is rich in collections that span the American Daughters’ of Charity history from their origins with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s to the missions they continue to staff today. It only stands to reason, though, that some of our earliest manuscript sources have suffered the effects of time. The photo shows one of the most valuable items in our collection, the Treasurer’s Notebook of Sister Margaret George. This book, which contains entrance records for the earliest Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s, holds significance as well for the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and of Seton Hill, PA, because of Mother Margaret George’s role in their communities. It was treated in 2013 by local hand bookbinder Mary Wootton. The treatment included rebinding and construction of an archival storage box specific to the dimensions of the book.

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Filed under Sisters of Charity Federation, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's

New Federation Exhibit; Upcoming Celebration of Seton Canonization

Ruth Bielobocky and Tony DiIulio in front of the new Sisters of Charity Federation exhibit at the Seton Shrine (Photo  reproduced with permission of Ruth Bielobocky and Tony DiIulio)

Ruth Bielobocky and Tony DiIulio in front of the new Sisters of Charity Federation exhibit at the Seton Shrine (Photo reproduced with permission of Ruth Bielobocky and Tony DiIulio)

The Provincial Archives has been assisting our colleagues at Seton Shrine as they prepare new exhibits for the upcoming commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the canonization of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. One of the collaborations involved the archivists from the other eleven congregations of the Sisters of Charity Federation. Each sent in an image of their First Mother, and exhibit curator Ruth Bielobocky designed this wonderful panel that traces that history. The panels were installed today along with other images and artifacts. Ruth stands near her work along with Tony DiIulio of Seton Heritage Ministries who has been coordinating the exhibit changes. Check for our posts next week as we document the installation of the crowning item in the new exhibit: the original banner for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton that hung in Vatican Square at the canonization on Sept. 14, 1975.

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Filed under Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg, Sisters of Charity Federation