Press Release: Sea Services Personnel to Join in Annual Pilgrimage on October 2 at the Seton shrine - Seton Shrine

Press Release: Sea Services Personnel to Join in Annual Pilgrimage on October 2 at the Seton shrine

The Pilgrimage brings together Sea Services members to ask their patroness for her continued intercession for the safety of those serving our Nation at Sea.

EMMITSBURG, MD (Sept. 28, 2021) –  The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton will recognize and pray for those who go to sea at the annual Pilgrimage for the Sea Services on Sunday, Oct. 2. At this special Mass, members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and Public Health Services will join others in prayer to thank Mother Seton for her protection and to ask for her continued intercession for all Sea Services personnel and their families back home.

The Pilgrimage Mass will take place at 3:30 p.m. in the Basilica at the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, located at 339 South Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, MD. The Mass will also be broadcast live on EWTN for those who cannot join in person. The Pilgrimage is co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Military Services USA.

The celebrant is Cardinal Edwin Frederick O’Brien, Grand Master Emeritus of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and former Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Military Services and of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese of Military Services will concelebrate the Mass. The U.S. Naval Academy Catholic Choir will lead the singing for the Mass, and the Ceremonial Honor Guard, Military District of Washington, will present the colors.

As the Patroness of the Sea Services, St.  Elizabeth Ann Seton has deep 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 on the USS Cyane and USS Macedonian, respectively. Her father, Richard Bayley, was a prominent New York City physician in the 18th century and the city’s first chief health officer.

“St. Elizabeth Ann Seton understood what our Sea Service personnel and their families experience every day in serving our nation and the sacrifices that such service demands,” said retired Admiral William J. Fallon, chair of the Pilgrimage Sponsoring committee. “By her prayers and example, Mother Seton remains a faith-filled inspiration and guiding light for those in uniform, their families and friends.”

In addition to asking Mother Seton to intercede for the safety of all those who serve, those who have fallen, and for our country, attendees at the Mass will also pray for more Catholic priests to serve as chaplains. Catholic chaplains in the military numbered in the thousands during World War II. Today, the Navy has less than 50 active Catholic priests to serve hundreds of thousands of Catholic Sailors, Marines, Merchant Mariners, Coast Guard and Public Health Service personnel.

The late Cardinal John J. O’Connor of the Archdiocese of New York, alongside the late Admiral James D. Watkins, advocated for Mother Seton’s designation as the Patroness of the Sea Services in 1977 when O’Connor served as the Navy Chief of Chaplains and Watkins was Chief of Naval Personnel.

Cardinal O’Brien, who was consecrated an auxiliary bishop of New York by Cardinal O’Connor, was a civilian chaplain at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point before his commission as a military chaplain in 1970. Cardinal O’Brien was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., and trained as a paratrooper. He deployed to Vietnam in 1971, often flying by helicopter to defensive outposts in the countryside to provide for the spiritual needs of the soldiers.

Cardinal O’Brien was appointed as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of the Military Services in 1997, ministering to service men and women around the world. He later served as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 2012.

“We’re excited to welcome Cardinal O’Brien, who knows first-hand the needs of those who wear the uniforms of the Sea Services in their devotion and service to our country,” said Rob Judge, executive director of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. “Mother Seton offers something for everyone, but she is 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.”

More about Dr. Bayley and Mother Seton’s sons can be found at the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Seton. 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

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

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