EMMITSBURG, MD (Sept. 29, 2021) – This Sunday, Oct. 3, people from across the country will come together for the annual Pilgrimage for the Sea Services, a special Mass where members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and Public Health Services join family and friends in prayer to thank Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton for her protection and ask for her continued intercession.
The Pilgrimage Mass will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3, in the Basilica at the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, located at 339 South Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, Md. The Mass will be shown live on EWTN and livestreamed on www.ewtn.com for those who cannot join in-person. Free take-home dinners will be available for those who attend.
As the Patroness of the Sea Services, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton has strong connections to those who spend their lives at sea and those devoted to public health. Two of her sons, Richard and William, served in the Navy, and her father, Richard Bayley, was a prominent New York City physician in the 18th century and the city’s first chief health officer.
The late Cardinal John J. O’Connor of the Archdiocese of New York, advocated for her designation as the Patroness of the Sea Services in 1977 when he served as the Navy Chief of Chaplains.
This year, the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton welcomes Bishop Neal J. Buckon, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Military Services, as the main celebrant of the Sea Services Pilgrimage Mass.
“Mother Seton’s help and intercessions are needed every day by those who serve in the Sea Services,” said retired Admiral William J. Fallon, Chair of the Pilgrimage Sponsoring Committee. “As a shepherd of our military’s Catholic service members and their families, Bishop Buckon has a unique perspective that will resonate with those in uniform, as well as those who send family and friends to sea. We are grateful for his presence and support.”
In addition to asking to Mother Seton to intercede for the safety of all those at sea, for those who have fallen and for our country, those in attendance will also pray for more Catholic priests to serve as chaplains. Catholic chaplains in the military numbered in the thousands during World War II. In 2013, there were fewer than 240. Today, the Navy only has about 50 active Catholic priests for its roughly 107,000 Catholic sailors and Marines, which means that one priest serves more than 2,000 men and women.
“We’re excited and honored to welcome back all of the servicemen and women to the Seton Shrine this year,” said Rob Judge, executive director of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. “Mother Seton offers something for everyone, but she’s especially connected to the sea services because of the love and support she offered to each of her sons. To those on the sea, Mother Seton’s prayers bring hope, solace and the strength to complete their missions.”
This year’s pilgrimage will be especially meaningful for those in the health services who have been on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. In the 1790s, Richard Bayley was at the forefront of New York’s fight against the yellow fever epidemic before contracting the illness himself and dying in 1801.
More about Dr. Bayley and Mother Seton’s sons can be found at the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Seton, which is commemorating the 200th anniversary of her passing into heaven. Mother Seton was the first native-born American saint, and her shrine includes the buildings where she lived, taught school, prayed and eventually died. Her final resting place is in the shrine’s Basilica.
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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