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placeholder Martyred
Salvadoran bishop
in Oakland

Passion of the
Christ, on a
grand scale

Mass remembers
sacrifice of slain
Oakland police

40 Days for
Life stands a vigil
in Hayward

Pupils display
their know-how at
diocesan science fair

Dominican Sisters
break ground
on expansion

Magazine honors
Moreau Catholic
for innovation

El Heraldo Católico
launches website

Lively boys' basketball playoffs end with final
double-OT game

40 teams compete
in CYO Girls
Basketball Playoffs

Diocese gets
thumbs up on safe
environment audit

Church audit: Abuse
allegations down,
training up in 2013

Sister Marion Loretta Carr, PBVM

Father William R. Stoeger, SJ

New members welcomed into
Church at Easter Vigil

'I'm going to know
the right way
to do things'

'The way God
worked in my life
was amazing'

'A joy to go through
this with my mom'

St. Elizabeth Ann
Seton's Lenten

Lent: the annual

Boomers can have
a good Lent even when not needing
to fast

Sacramento bishop

placeholder April 7, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
Holy Week & Easter Liturgies

An exterior view of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in New York is seen on March 11. The building with the columns served as a mission for young women who emigrated from Ireland to the United States from 1883 to 1954.
Photos by Gregory A. Shemitz/cns

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's Lenten message

A statue of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is seen on one of the two restored bronze doors at the main entrance of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York following their installation Aug. 14, part of the three-year, $177 million restoration of the cathedral.

The Church has recognized the shining example of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who exemplified the human quest for God and our yearning for union with Him in holiness.

Elizabeth Bayley was born into a wealthy, Episcopalian, New York family in 1774, two years before the Declaration of Independence. Her family sided with the American Revolution.

In 1794 she married William Seton, a successful businessman, and they raised three daughters and two sons. As problems befell the family, William's business failed in 1801 and so did his health.

The Fillichi family of Livorno, Italy, invited the Setons to stay with them and offered to help William on the road to recovery. William, Elizabeth, and their oldest daughter arrived in 1803, but William died within a short time. The Fillichis comforted the widow and child, and impressed them deeply with their vibrant Catholic faith. Elizabeth became interested in visiting various Catholic churches and developed the practice of praying before the Blessed Sacrament.

Brother John Samaha, SM

Before a year lapsed Elizabeth returned to New York and was reunited with her other children. Then she decided to become a Catholic, and Father Matthew O'Brien, pastor of St. Peter's Church in lower Manhattan, received her into full communion with the Catholic Church. Sadly her family and friends abandoned her; but Antonio Fillichi, who was in New York at this time, encouraged her.

Now Elizabeth needed to earn a living to support her family. She was interested in opening a school. Bishop John Carroll invited her to open a school for girls near St. Mary's Seminary on Paca Street in Baltimore. This became the springboard for her to become the foundress of the American Sisters of Charity and to lay the foundation for the United States' Catholic school system. While accepting tuition from those who could afford payment, she provided free education for the poor.

Cecilia O'Conway of Philadelphia teamed with her to begin a new religious congregation to continue this special ministry, and they established a motherhouse at Emmitsburg, Maryland.

In the midst of this venture Mother Seton also provided for the education of her own children. Her daughters were educated in her school, and her sons at Georgetown College. One of her grandsons became an archbishop.

Elizabeth Ann Seton died in 1821 at the age of 46. In 1975 she was canonized by Pope Paul VI as the first native-born saint of North America. Her feast is celebrated on Jan. 4.

This Lent Pope Francis calls us to renew and deepen our faith, and to recall the universal desire for God and call to holiness. The life of St. Elizabeth Seton reminds us that in all of us there is a longing to know God and to draw closer to him. She is an example of how to respond to the human longing and capacity for God. The desire for God is written in the human heart, because we are created by God and for God.

(Marianist Brother John Samaha is a retired religious educator who worked for many years in the catechetical department of the Oakland diocese. He now resides in Cupertino.)

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