Seton Shrine Initiatives in 2022 Aimed at Expanding Awareness and Spirituality of First U.S-Born Saint

Programs dedicated to prayer and the intersection of faith and culture, along with outreach to the poor and a museum groundbreaking highlight plans announced on Mother Seton’s Feast Day.

EMMITSBURG, MD (Jan. 4, 2022) – The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton announced several  initiatives for 2022, including a series devoted to the intersection of culture and the Catholic faith and an expansion of its Seeds of Hope retreat program for the poor and marginalized. The announcement comes as the Catholic Church celebrated the feast day of Mother Seton, the first American-born saint, who founded the first order of sisters to be established in  the United States.

These initiatives build on the momentum of a year-long commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Mother Seton’s passing. This effort by the Shrine reintroduced Mother Seton to Catholics and non-Catholics alike around the world, showing how this truly American saint remains a relatable spiritual guide, historical figure and role model for people today.

“Underlying all that we do at the Shrine is the strong belief that Mother Seton does not belong to the past; she belongs to all of us today and all those in the future who seek greater meaning in their lives and a friend in heaven,” said Rob Judge, executive director of the Shrine. “Each of these initiatives powerfully communicate Mother Seton’s spirituality and love for our Lord, while highlighting her evangelism and relatability to diverse audiences in need of her grace during these uncertain and sometimes fearful times.”

The initiatives for 2022 are:

  • Seton & Culture Series: Starting this week, the Shrine will begin publishing a bi-weekly series of spiritual essays by leading writers that will profile great Catholic artists, novelists, poets and visionaries, from the perspective of Elizabeth Seton’s life and spirituality. The first essay is by noted Catholic poet Paul Mariani, and describes the sensations of a concerto and the profound feelings it elicits through the eyes of Thomas Merton and Mother Seton. Other essay subjects to be published in coming weeks include the poet and Catholic convert Denise Levertov, and former Hollywood actress Mother Dolores Hart.

“Throughout her life, Mother Seton was devoted to the good, the true and the beautiful, especially as expressed through culture and art,” Judge said. “This series will allow us to explore another side of Elizabeth Seton, through distinguished writers who are using their gifts to turn our attention to the higher things.”

  • Seeds of Hope expansion: The Shrine hopes to resume a regular schedule of retreats for the poor onsite this year, but now for the first time the Shrine will offer a written, at-home retreat for individuals who seek to follow God’s will for their lives more closely, through the writings and spiritual wisdom of Mother Seton.

Seeds of Hope is one of the only retreat programs in the U.S. geared primarily to those on the margins of society. The at-home, one day retreat guide will be based on the Seeds of Hope retreat model and will give individuals across the nation who are struggling with anxiety and despair a method for applying Mother Seton’s spirituality to their lives, to build up faith, hope and resiliency in a time of uncertainty.

This effort is in keeping with the mission of the Sisters and Daughters of Charity, the religious congregations who trace their roots back to Mother Seton and who, for two centuries, have cared for those who need it most. The at-home retreat program is scheduled to be released during the Easter season.

  • Seton Museum/Visitor Center: The Shrine expects to break ground by the summer on a fully renovated and expanded Museum that will highlight the life and legacy of Mother Seton and the sisters who took her message to the world. Funds for the new Museum and Visitor Center are coming from the Shrine’s “New Century of Charity” capital campaign that is close to reaching its $7 million goal.
  • Lift Up My Soul: 15 Days of Prayer with Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton: Mother Seton’s life was full of crisis and discouragement, and yet she persevered and became a saint and one of the most revered figures in the history of American Catholicism. Where did she find the strength to continue? By turning to prayer and a deeper devotion to God. 

Lift Up My Soul is a free, 15-day email prayer program, based on a book by Betty Ann McNeil, D.C., that uses the writings of Mother Seton to help readers integrate 15 themes of her Catholic faith into daily life. Through these meditations, subscribers will develop a deeper, more personal relationship with the Living God. The program’s website page can be found here. The email sign-up page can be found here.

Along with these initiatives, the Shrine will continue its already extensive collection of ministries. These include Living History activities on the grounds where Mother Seton and the sisters built their community; the Sea Services Mass honoring U.S. service personnel and the Back from the Dead Cemetery Walk and Door to Bethlehem Christmas programs. More than 60,000 people visited the Shrine and the Museum last year for these ministries or for daily mass.

Besides the Shrine’s first-ever capital campaign, other programs in 2021 included the “Seeker to Saint” video series and “Seton Family Treasures,” a temporary exhibit of relics and artifacts from Mother Seton and her family. The elements of “Seton Family Treasures” will be incorporated into the renovated Museum.

Mother Seton’s feast day mass will be celebrated in the Shrine’s Basilica and broadcast live on EWTN starting at 3:30 (EST).

For more information about the Shrine, please visit setonshrine.org.

The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Md., is a place of God and of history, where visitors can walk in the footsteps of a saint. The Shrine offers pilgrims prayerful comfort from Mother Seton’s story and her intercessions as a friend in heaven. It is an active Basilica and has a wide range of historical buildings and programs that show what life was like when Mother Seton lived here more than 200 years ago. It was here that she founded the first community of religious women established in the U.S., created the first free Catholic school for girls staffed by sisters in the U.S. and fulfilled her mission of serving those in need. Today, her legacy includes several religious communities with thousands of sisters, who serve others through schools, social service centers and hospitals throughout the world. She was canonized in 1975. Her remains are entombed at the National Shrine that bears her name. For more information, please visit https://setonshrine.org/.

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