Nurturing the Mind and Spirit

Give some time in every day…

“…Give some time in every day if it is only half an hour to devotional reading—which is as necessary to the well ordering of the mind as the hand of the gardener to prevent the weeds destroying your favorite flower.” St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1.171, To Anna Maria Seton, 1803, Collected Writings, p. 219.)

Like people trying to crowd onto the “L” during rush hour, sometimes our lives seem too busy to accommodate another demand placed upon them. Elizabeth Ann Seton—wife, mother, widow, nun—knew something of life’s harried pace. She also believed the most effective response to this was preserving time each day for nurturing the mind and spirit. For Mother Seton, this hallowed time was spent in devotional reading, a practice she encouraged her daughter Anna to cultivate. Like a well-tended garden that produces a beautiful flower, so too will a well-tended mind and spirit produce a similarly rich reward.

What do you do each day to care for your mind and spirit?  How have you experienced rewards from this special time? 

Reflection written by:           

Tom Judge, Chaplain for Faculty/Staff Engagement, Mission and Ministry

“Debating Immigration Law in the Midst of Exile” The 2018 Sister Mary Schmidt, SC Lecture

Recognizing the pressing needs of refugees at our nation’s borders, the 2018 Sister Mary Schmidt, S.C. lecture at Seton Hill University proposes to re-examine Catholic Social Thought and the biblical narrative in seeking new responses to refugees and immigrants. After reviewing United States immigration law in the light of the biblical narrative and Catholic Social Thought, the lecture argues against deportation and private detention as a state remedy to unauthorized immigration or as a deterrent to asylum applicants. Relying upon the framework of the Seton Hill University Centennial in 2018, the lecture recalls that deportation did not arise as a significant remedy for violations of immigration law until 1918. Through understanding the biblical narrative within its context of exile, the lecture urges people of faith to work towards eliminating deportation and private detention as our mission in the century ahead.

Newsnote: New Elizabeth Seton Biography Published

In 1975, two centuries after her birth, Pope Paul VI canonized Elizabeth Ann Seton, making her the first saint to be a native-born citizen of the United States in the Roman Catholic Church. Seton came of age in Manhattan as the city and her family struggled to rebuild themselves after the Revolution, explored both contemporary philosophy and Christianity, converted to Catholicism from her native Episcopalian faith, and built the St. Joseph’s Academy and Free School in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Hers was an exemplary early American life of struggle, ambition, questioning, and faith, and in this flowing biography, Catherine O’Donnell has given Seton her due. O’Donnell places Seton squarely in the context of the dynamic and risky years of the American and French Revolutions and their aftermath. Just as Seton’s dramatic life was studded with hardship, achievement, and grief so were the social, economic, political, and religious scenes of the Early American Republic in which she lived. O’Donnell provides the reader with a strong sense of this remarkable woman’s intelligence and compassion as she withstood her husband’s financial failures and untimely death, undertook a slow conversion to Catholicism, and struggled to reconcile her single-minded faith with her respect for others’ different choices. The fruit of her labors were the creation of a spirituality that embraced human connections as well as divine love and the American Sisters of Charity, part of an enduring global community with a specific apostolate for teaching. The trove of correspondence, journals, reflections, and community records that O’Donnell weaves together throughout Elizabeth Seton provides deep insight into her life and her world. Each source enriches our understanding of women’s friendships and choices, illuminates the relationships within the often-opaque world of early religious communities, and upends conventional wisdom about the ways Americans of different faiths competed and collaborated during the nation’s earliest years. Through her close and sympathetic reading of Seton’s letters and journals, O’Donnell reveals Seton the person and shows us how, with both pride and humility, she came to understand her own importance as Mother Seton in the years before her death in 1821. Hardcover: 552 pages Publisher: Three Hills (September 15, 2018) Language: English ISBN-10: 1501705784 ISBN-13: 978-1501705786

Newsnote: Rare Seton Letter Acquired

DePaul University
Vincentian Studies Institute of the United States

The Vincentian Studies Institute of the United States located at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, is happy to announce the acquisition of a four-page manuscript Seton family letter. The handwritten letter is dated May 18, 1816. It is addressed to William Seton (1796-1868) at Leghorn (Livorno) Italy with portions written by his two younger sisters and his mother. The first page is from Rebecca Seton (1802-1816). The second page is from Catherine (Kit) Seton (1800-1891). Saint Elizabeth Seton adds 18 lines on the final two pages. The Seton autograph of this letter is found as 7.25 in Elizabeth Bayley Seton Collected Writings, volume 2, p. 396-397. The editors of this series noted the letter was based on a photo-copy, and the location of the original was unknown. Just over two hundred years after it was written, this precious document returns to the possession of the Vincentian family. The letter will join the extensive Vincentiana Collection in the Archives and Special Collections of DePaul University’s, John T. Richardson Library.

Newsnote: “Elizabeth Seton’s New York: A Guidebook.”

New from the Sisters of Charity of New York Elizabeth Seton’s New York—A Guidebook 200th Anniversary Edition Adapted by Regina Bechtle, SC 20-Page Booklet, Illustrations in Color Visit sites where Elizabeth Seton lived and prayed in downtown Manhattan, Staten Island, and New Rochelle. Follow in the footsteps of this intrepid woman of New York and first native-born saint of the United States. COST 1 to 4 copies $ 8 per copy (includes shipping) 5 to 9 copies $ 7 per copy (additional shipping costs will be added when order is received) For 10 copies or more, please call Sr. Regina Bechtle at 718.549.9200 Please make check payable to Sisters of Charity, New York. Send payment & order to: Sisters of Charity Center EAS Guidebook 6301 Riverdale Ave Bronx, NY 10471 ATTN: Sr. Regina Bechtle

Newsnote: Revised edition of “Praying with Elizabeth Ann Seton” is published by the V.S.I.

By Margaret Alderman and Josephine Burns, D.C.

New edition edited by Betty Ann McNeil, D.C.



As the first saint to grow from the soil of the United States, Elizabeth Ann Seton holds a special place in the story of the Catholic church in America. A wife and widow, mother of five children, founder of a new community of religious women, teacher and administrator, Elizabeth was remarkable by any standard. Most importantly, Elizabeth Seton was a holy person who companioned other people to a greater love of God and of their sisters and brothers.



Praise for Praying with Elizabeth Ann Seton:


Elizabeth Seton has great name recognition among many around the world. Some know the basic outline of her life, but few know with any depth the beauty and profundity of her spiritual life. Sister Betty Ann McNeil, D.C., has provided a great service by overseeing the revised republication of Praying with Elizabeth Ann Seton. It is one of the few books available that offer an in-depth look at important aspects of the saint’s spirituality. For those who use it to truly PRAY with Elizabeth Seton, it can be an opportunity, not only to appreciate Elizabeth’s spiritual journey, but to open the door to one’s own journey into a deeper relationship with God.


Sister Judith Metz, S.C.

Archivist and Historian

Sisters of Charity, Cincinnati, OH


117 pages

ISBN: 978-1-936696-10-9

Retail price: $16.99

Available from the Seton Shrine Book Shop:

The Woman Elizabeth Ann Seton: 1804–1812


Mary Donovan examines Elizabeth Seton’s experience as a widow and as a mother of a teen daughter and explores the impact of two of Elizabeth’s closest relationships. In these years, the most important relationships in Elizabeth’s life were with her husband’s friend Antonio Filicchi, who played a great role in her conversion, and her daughter Anna. After her husband’s death, Elizabeth had to construct a new identity for herself, and the process is best documented in her correspondence with Filicchi. The two struggled with affection for each other, but ultimately she looked on him as a spiritual friend and he acted as her benefactor. Elizabeth found it difficult to believe she could love her children deeply without losing God’s love but eventually reconciled the two. With time, she learned to put Anna’s needs ahead of her own and respected Anna’s initial reluctance to join the Sisters of Charity. Anna’s death led Elizabeth to greater trust in God.

“The Woman Elizabeth Ann Seton: 1804-1812” is an article in the Vincentian Heritage Journal, Volume 14, Issue 2, Article 4 available at:


The Ecological Spirituality of Elizabeth Ann Seton

We are living in an unprecedented age when ecological concern is rising as the most critical issue for humanity. It is not a lack of scientific knowledge that makes environmental problems so difficult to solve, but rather human arrogance. There are ecologists, however, who draw upon religious traditions to establish models for a healthy and harmonious relationship between nature and humanity. Sr. Sung-Hae Kim interprets the writings of Elizabeth Ann Seton from the perspectives of four contemporary ecological philosophers: Arne Naess, Anthony Western, Murray Bookchin, and Aldo Leopold. Sr. Kim presented the four characteristics that emerge as constitutive elements in Seton’s own ecological spirituality, and which marry contemporary ecological philosophy to Elizabeth Seton’s world-view. Lecture was recorded at Richardson Library at DePaul University on April, 27, 2016.

Elizabeth Seton: Her World and Her Church


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:


Publication Announcement: “Balm of Hope: Charity Afire Impels Daughters of Charity Civil War Nurses”

Betty Ann McNeil, D.C., ed., Balm of Hope: Charity Afire Impels Daughters of Charity Civil War Nurses, Mary Denis Maher, C.S.A., Foreword; Janet Leigh Bucklew, Introduction (Chicago: DePaul University Vincentian Studies Institute, 2015), 558 pp., annotated, 50 historic images, 6 maps and tables, appendix, glossary, and index. Paperback. Available from DePaul University Vincentian Studies Institute Collection at the Seton Heritage Shop of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, 339 South Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727 USA. Available: September 15, 2015 Cost: $30.00 plus shipping & handling

To order Balm of Hope: Charity Afire Impels Daughters of Charity Civil War Nurses, contact the Seton Heritage Shop: On-line: Email: Telephone: 301-447-7122 Sr. McNeil’s discovery of 500 pages of handwritten memoirs by Daughters of Charity Civil War nurses led her into a multi-year project to transcribe, annotate, index, and publish Balm of Hope: Charity Afire Impels Daughters of Charity Civil War Nurses. This compendium includes: 1. Notes of the Sisters’ Services in Military Hospitals; 2. Civil War Recollections and Accounts; and 3. Correspondence.

The texts invite readers to listen to courageous women reminisce in their own words about nursing amid the ravages of war. 