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St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Lessons of the Eucharistic Revival

MANHATTAN, May 26 — The eastern Route of the National Eucharistic PIlgrimage is under the patronage of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), wife, mother, and, as a young widow, religious foundress who helped build the Catholic School system in the United States.

There are four principal stops along the eastern route of the Pilgrimage that are associated with her. Pilgrims visited two of them on Sunday.

The first was the Church of St. Peter, the first and oldest Catholic Church in New York City, where St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was received into the Church on March 14, 1805, received her first confession six days later on March 20, and received Jesus for the first time five days after that, on March 25. She regularly attended Mass there afterward, until she would move to Maryland to found a school and a religious institute.

The visit of the pilgrims providentially coincided with the 218th anniversary of her Confirmation, on May 26, 1806, received by Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore, the first bishop of the United States and, two years later, first Archbishop.

At St. Peter's, where more than 1,000 pilgrims were welcomed by St. Peter's pastor Fr. Jarlath Quinn, Fr. Roger Landry, chaplain to the Seton Route, gave a reflection on the Eucharistic dimensions of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's life. He focused on her Eucharistic Desire, the importance of Eucharistic Processions, and the zeal with which we should seek to pass on Eucharistic knowledge, faith, amazement, gratitude, love and life to others.

With regard to Eucharistic desire, Fr. Landry recalled Jesus' words, in the famous Bread of Life Discourse, that no one can come to Him unless God the Father draw him, and Elizabeth Seton was indeed drawn.

Prior to her conversion, the future saint wrote to her sister-in-law Rebecca, "How happy would we be if we believed what these dear [Catholic] souls believe, that they possess God in the Sacrament and that he remains in their churches and is carried to them when they are sick." She would eventually find that happiness on the day of her first Communion, at St. Peter's Church, when she would say, "At last, God is mine and I am his."

Fr. Landry underlined to those on the 14.5 mile Eucharistic Procession that one of the pivotal moments in her conversion was a Eucharistic Procession. She wrote to her sister-in-law Rebecca, "The other day in a moment of excessive distress, I fell on my knees without thinking when the Blessed Sacrament passed by, and cried out in an agony to God to bless me if he was there, that my whole soul desired only him." Her prayer was heard.

Fr. Landry said that St. Elizabeth couldn't keep her Eucharistic amazement and love to herself. After her conversion, she sought to pass it on to her children, to the Sisters of Charity whom she would form around her, and to the girls they would educated. Fr. Landry stressed that she was helped by the gift of the Holy Spirit, whom she had received in a special way in the Sacrament of Confirmation exactly 218 years prior.

Fr. Landry also mentioned in his reflection that the Seton pilgrims are traveling with a first-class relic of the saint along their pilgrimage, on loan from the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland, another of the four sites associated with the saint along their journey.

It was generously driven from Maryland to New Haven by Becca Corbell, associate Program Director of the Shrine, before the pilgrimage began.

The second Seton site of the day was the Seton Shrine in New York, where the future saint lived and where now the Sisters of Life run their Visitation Mission to vulnerable pregnant women and young moms.

There Sr. Gianna Maria Solomon, SV, gave a beautiful reflection on St. Elizabeth's motherhood and love for the Eucharist.

The fourth site associated with the saint that the pilgrims will visit will be the Basilica of the Annunciation in Baltimore, America's first Cathedral, where before Archbishop John Carroll St. Elizabeth Seton would profess her vows as a Sister of Charity.


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