Category Archives: Sisters of Charity of New York

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

Shared legacy of service in New York

On this day in 1817, Bishop John Connolly wrote to Mother Seton, asking for Sisters to staff a Catholic orphan asylum in her native city, New York.

On August 1, 1817, Mother Seton wrote to Rev. Simon Gabriel Bruté, S.S.


… the poor Lipp tells me Sister Rose [White] is much better-I write her earnestly about New York – the desire of my heart and Soul for her going to New York has been long pressing for so much must depend as says the good gentlemen who write about it on who is sent to my “native city'” they say, not knowing that I am a citizen of the world-the Bishop [John Connolly] also writes about it asking 3 Sisters for such an orphan asylum as in Philadelphia to begin on a small plan-excellent – the little mustard seed — oh if my Rose can go I shall be proud, she will keep so well the dignity of rules and pure intentions …

(Elizabeth Bayley Seton: Collected Writings, ed. Regina Bechtle, S.C. and Judith Metz, S.C. Volume 2, p.494)

A portion of Mother Seton’s original letter from August 1, 1817 is reproduced below. A reproduction of this letter is currently on display in Mother Seton’s White House, located on the Emmitsburg Campus.

Seton letter August 1, 1817

Portion of Elizabeth Ann Seton letter to Simon Bruté, August 1, 1817 (used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s arrived in New York in August 1817. Mother Rose White’s journal records:


In August, 1817 the Sisters were called to New York. Three were sent to begin an asylum, the house purchased by the Managers who formed a society for the relief of orphans-, was an old frame house in Prince Street, the front door was two steps below the street.  The beginning very poor, yet the people very kind.  We began with one orphan & had many difficulties to meet with; the greatest was that we were obliged to admit boys & girls, the same poverty existing, & the same promises made by the Asylum Managers that as soon, as means could be secured there should be a separation.  This, we regret, is not yet effected, though they have a splendid Asylum accommodating two hundred orphans.
(Journal of Mother Rose White, used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

The Sisters of Charity and the Daughters of Charity have shared a legacy of service in New York that stretches nearly 200 years.

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Two Iconic Sisters of Charity of New York

Guest post by Sister Maryellen Blumlein, archivist, Sisters of Charity of New York

Sister Immaculata Burke

Sr. Immaculata Burke, S.C. (Image courtesy of Sisters of Charity of New York)

Sr. Thomas (Trude) Collins, S.C.

Sr. Thomas (Trude) Collins, S.C. (Image courtesy Sisters of Charity of New York)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Within the space of twelve days, two iconic women, both Sisters of Charity of New York, who served the people of God on different continents went home to their loving God. Sr. Marie Immaculata Burke, a nurse, served in Guatemala for 43 years. She began and ministered in several different clinics and served the Mayan people in many different ways. She was beloved by the people, and she loved them in return. She brought the healing touch of Jesus to so many as well as comforted those families who lost loved ones during the Civil War. Nothing was too difficult for Sr. Immaculata to do for “her people.” She recognized needs and did her best to meet them, at times placing herself in possible danger. With the help of other missionaries she worked to help the people regain their health, receive an education, and return to their villages to serve their own people. Her death brought sadness to all who knew and loved this Sister of Charity who clearly practiced “every service in her power.”

Sr. Thomas, a.k.a. Trude, Collins left the classroom in 1967 to work among the people of St. Athanasius Parish and the surrounding area in the South Bronx. Sister’s bright smile and exuberance made her beloved by all of the residents and business people as well. She was a hard worker and staunch advocate for the needs of the people of the South Bronx. She served on various boards and was elected to the Community Board which she remained a member of for many years. Sr. Thomas saw the needs of the people around her and offered them whatever assistance she could. No task was too great, or too small; she was available day or night. Her fun-loving nature was equal to her compassion. She could burst into song at any moment and entertained the senior sisters every year around St. Patrick’s Day at the Convent of Mary the Queen’s annual party. Noted for her large earrings and often colorful clothing, Sister Thomas was a Sister of Charity to her very fingertips. Ask anyone in the South Bronx about her, and they will tell you she was the kindest, funniest, and most loving person they had ever met.

These two women, daughters of Elizabeth Ann Seton, though working thousands of miles apart, were fulfilling Jesus message to go and preach the gospel to all of my people. Their preaching was through their many actions of love and kindness to all whom they met. The Sisters of Charity and the world have lost two marvelous ambassadors of God’s love.

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Filed under Sisters of Charity Federation, Sisters of Charity of New York