Category Archives: Sisters of Charity of Convent Station

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

Beatification of Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, S.C.

Today the first ever beatification to occur on US soil will give the title “Blessed” to a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, New Jersey (SCNJ), Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, S.C. Sister Miriam’s beatification will be held at 9:30am at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey. In 2005 the Church adjusted the process by which saints are named. As part of this, it is now permitted for beatifications to occur in the native land of the person to be beatified.

Sister Rosemary Moynihan, General Superior of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, said of Sister Miriam Teresa:

“God makes saints out of the simple events of life. Holiness is not beyond any one of us in our daily, ordinary lives. Miriam Teresa made it clear that the grace of God is given to each of us freely. Each day we are given the invitation and strength to live in union with the Spirit of God found in each and every one we meet and in all creation.”

Our colleagues at the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton will be holding a special Mass in the Basilica today at 1:30pm to mark the beatification. The Mass is open to the public. For more information see the Shrine’s website

Learn more about Sister Miriam Demjanovich’s life and cause for canonization in this site from the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth.

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Filed under Announcements, Sisters of Charity Federation, Sisters of Charity of Convent Station

A Seton in New Jersey

Robert Seton portrait

Portrait of Robert Seton (courtesy Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth)

Guest post by Sister Noreen Neary, SC, Archivist, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, Convent Station, NJ

The Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth have a unique connection to Mother Seton’s family through her grandson Robert. Born in Italy in 1839, he was the fourth of William and Emily (Prime) Seton’s seven children. While he never knew his grandmother, clearly she had a strong influence on him. As a young man he studied at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Maryland, a stone’s throw from where his saintly grandmother lived, worked, died and was buried. Robert pursued his theological studies at the American College and the Academia Ecclesiastica in Rome where he was ordained to the priesthood in 1865. While in Rome he was made the Private Chamberlain to Pope Pius IX and dean of the Monsignori in the United States.

Upon his return to the U.S. Monsignor Seton was granted faculties in the Diocese of Newark, headed by Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, Mother Seton’s cousin. Having spent two years as a curate at Saint Patrick parish in Newark – the site of the founding of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth – he was named the chaplain at our Motherhouse in rural Morris County and served in that capacity from 1867 to 1876. Then Monsignor Seton left the countryside to work with the Sisters of Charity at Saint Joseph parish in Jersey City. He recalled later:

God favored me in letting me find a small but exemplary community of Sisters already established in the Parish and conducting a school alongside the Church. They were angels of kindness and efficiency and a comfort in my long years of trial and discomfort.

His long tenure (1876-1901) as pastor was marked by the building of the rectory, convent and parish school hall. Monsignor Seton returned to Rome in 1901 and was appointed Archbishop of the titular See of Heliopolis in Phoenicia by Pope Leo XIII in 1903.

Upon his retirement in 1921 Archbishop Seton returned to Convent Station. A student at Saint Elizabeth’s Academy recalled the elderly gentleman: “We were also honored with Archbishop Seton’s presence in his retirement years. He was a grandson of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. To escort his Grace on an afternoon stroll usually ended with the gift of a large red apple and a ‘thank your girls.’” (Adria Winser Walsh ’22)

Archbishop Seton wrote a number of books, including Memories of Many Years 1839-1922 (1923), Memoirs, Letters, and Journal of Elizabeth Seton (1869) and An Old Family, the Setons of Scotland and America (1899), a privately published, well researched genealogy of his father’s family.
Archbishop Seton’s generosity led him to donate his grandmother’s desk and footstool to the Sisters who cared for him until his death in 1927. Ave Maria magazine (April 2, 1927) noted that his funeral was attended by representatives of the Daughters of Charity and the Sisters of Charity from Cincinnati, New York, New Jersey and Greensburg, PA, although the Halifax, Nova Scotia, congregation was unable to send representatives in time for the service. Archbishop Seton’s body is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Newark.

Mother Seton desk

Mother Seton’s desk (courtesy Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth)

Robert Seton tombstone

Tombstone of Robert Seton (courtesy Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth)

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Filed under Elizabeth Ann Seton, Sisters of Charity Federation, Sisters of Charity of Convent Station