Celebrating 150 years – Sisters of Charity of New Jersey

by | Jul 12, 2014 | Sisters of Charity, Vincentian Family

scnjWho are the Sisters of Charity of New Jersey and what have they done over 150 years?

Click this link to see fine video presentation of their history.

The history of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, who are sometimes referred to as the “New Jersey Sisters of Charity” or the “Convent Station Sisters of Charity,” is especially interwoven with the founding and development of the Catholic Church in New Jersey, just as Mother Seton’s story is interwoven with the early history of our nation and of the Catholic Church in the United States. Under the authority of the first American bishop, John Carroll, Bishop of Baltimore, Mother Seton founded the American Sisters of Charity in 1809 in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Fifty years later, Sister Mary Xavier Mehegan was assigned by the New York Sisters of Charity to take charge of the new community that the first Bishop of Newark, James Roosevelt Bayley, nephew of Mother Seton, wished to establish. 

For fifty-six years, from 1859 until her death June 24, 1915, Mother Xavier headed the Sisters of Charity. Parish schools, academies, hospitals, a day nursery, orphanages, a home for the incurably ill, and a residence for working women were established. In 1899, a time when New Jersey had no baccalaureate-degree-granting college for women, Mother Xavier founded the College of Saint Elizabeth, New Jersey’s oldest four-year college for women and one of the first colleges for women in the United States. 

Even in Mother Xavier’s lifetime, the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth extended their ministries outside New Jersey to Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. Within twenty-five years after her death, they expanded to China, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands and opened a school for black children in Pensacola, Florida.