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Saints in our midst: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

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photo credit: A.Currell via photopin cc

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Motherhouse in Baltimore. Photo credit: A.Currell via photopin cc

How has St. Elizabeth Seton, whose feast day we celebrate today, influenced your life? Her presence spreads across the Valley. There are several Sisters of Charity, the first American congregation of religious sisters she founded, serving locally. The diocese is also home to a West Valley parish and an East Valley high school named in St. Elizabeth Seton’s honor.

THE SAINT:

  • 1774-1821. Converted from the Episcopalian faith, which alienated much of her family.
  • Also known as Mother Seton. She raised five children, established the Catholic school system (including the first free school) and founded the Sisters of Charity.
  • Pronounced her vows in 1809.
  • Fine musician and an accomplished horsewoman, according to one bio.
  • Canonized in 1975.  First native-born saint to be canonized.

THE SISTERS OF CHARITY of SETON HILL:

  • Mother Seton’s three daughters, her sisters-in-law and four young women were among the first to  join the order.
  • Eight religious women migrated from Pennsylvania to Arizona in 933 at the invitation of Tucson’s bishop. Ultimately opened eight Catholic schools in the southwest including four in the Phoenix Diocese.
  • The sisters also taught on reservations including children with diseases like tuberculosis, which Mother Seton also battled.
  • Roughly nine sisters now serve the Phoenix Diocese, including one who made her final vows this summer. The sisters also have an eco-justice coordinator, who lives locally for part of the year.

PARISH FACTS:

  • Established Sept. 16, 1976 and was one of four parishes established that year. It also marked the last parish established under Phoenix’s first bishop.
  • Sits north of 99th Avenue and Bell Road in Sun City.
  • Served 300 families at the beginning, which has ballooned to 2,453 families.
  • Unique ministries include: Seton Society (women’s group), Bus Ministry, a library and Solo Spouse Group. Visit parish online.

SCHOOL FACTS:

  • Established in Chandler in 1954 with grades 7-9. Staff was largely religious for several decades.
  • Became a diocesan school in 1973.
  • Fire destroyed the campus in 1980 and it was rebuilt at its current site (on Dobson north of Ray in Chandler) in 1983.
  • Irish Christian Brothers operated it until 1995.
  • School bought 13 acres adjoining the property in 2002 and dedicated the St. Elizabeth An Seton Chapel in 2008 followed by the fine arts/academic building in 2011.

 

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