The first part of this article gives the political, social, economic, and religious context of the world in which Elizabeth Seton lived. The second part describes the establishment and work of the Sisters of Charity. Education for all was important to early Americans, largely because everyone was supposed to read the Bible. Women had more agency than their European counterparts, although their influence was still mostly confined to the home. They were charged with instilling morality in children, and through them, in society in general. This was reflected in the curriculum of Elizabeth Seton’s school, Saint Joseph’s Academy. The outlook and influence of John Carroll, the United States’ first bishop whose diocese comprised the entire country, is discussed. He was a friend of Elizabeth’s and was among those who supported the opening of Saint Joseph’s. Enlightenment ideals, especially openness, tolerance, and optimism about human nature, were embodied in the attitudes and work of the Sisters of Charity.
“Elizabeth Seton: Her World and Her Church” is an article published in the Vincentian Heritage Journal, Volume 14, Issue 2, Article 1, (1993) and is available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol14/iss2/1