EMMITSBURG, MD – The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton celebrated the feast day of its patroness Jan. 4, with an eye to the past and her consequential role in American history and a view to the future with the opening this year of a new museum dedicated to her life and legacy.
Seton Shrine Chaplain Fr. Theodore Trinko, IVE was the main celebrant at the Mass in the shrine’s basilica in Emmitsburg, Md. The Mass was broadcast live on EWTN and Salt + Light TV. His homily highlighted how Mother Seton was a seeker of God her entire life before she found Him in heaven.
“Seeking was a notable feature of Mother Seton’s life,” he said. “She sought after souls gone astray. But most especially Mother Seton was somebody who sought after God and after the Truth. Her passionate pursuit of God was one of her most remarkable attributes.”
Her life shines as an example for all Catholics today, he said.
“Just as Mother Seton’s seeking didn’t cease once she entered the Church, nor should we who already form part of the Church desist from this endeavor,” he said. “Through our entire lives, like Mother Seton, there is a need to continuously look for God. As long as we are on our earth, we are on the way. We are not home.”
Highlighting Elizabeth Seton’s journey as a seeker will be a prominent focus of a $4 million fully renovated and redesigned museum and visitors center that is scheduled to open in September. The modernized museum will bring state-of-the-art and interactive techniques, aimed at strengthening knowledge of and devotion to Mother Seton and her message of faith, hope and perseverance in the face of adversity.
Plans call for the reconfiguration of the original grand entrance near the Basilica into a spacious and welcoming visitor center that will lead people into the new museum. In the museum, visitors will see artifacts such as her iconic bonnet, her rosary and crucifix, her daughter’s christening gown, the Commonplace Book that her daughter used as a student and her miniature wedding portraits and brooch. The museum also will highlight the efforts to have Seton formally declared a saint and the legacy of her work that continues to this day.
Fr. Trinko also highlighted the impact Mother Seton continues to have with those in need through the work of the Sisters and Daughters of Charity, who trace their roots to Emmitsburg, where she founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s in 1809.
“Mother Seton changed the world from this place,” said Rob Judge, executive director of the shrine. “In this humble setting, she began a global movement that continues to bring solace, help and hope to those in need around the world. In her, people today find a friend in heaven who understands their problems and struggles because she endured so much grief herself.”
Mother Seton’s feast day on Jan. 4 each year is an occasion to commemorate her stature as the first native-born American saint. The shrine recently completed a “Prayer for America” campaign aimed at sowing national unity during a time of division and bitterness. The campaign sought a new beginning in the country of healing, hope and holiness. As part of that effort, the shrine collected prayer intentions from thousands of people that were laid at the altar in the basilica where she is entombed.
Visitors to the shrine also will be able to participate in ministries such as its Seeds of Hope retreat program for the poor and marginalized, in-person and virtual living history tours, an online book club, the annual Sea Services Pilgrimage and the popular Back from the Dead program that was recently featured on Salt + Light TV’s “Behold” program.
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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