Anne Merwin has almost literally walked in the shoes of Elizabeth Seton. Like Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Anne Merwin has been a debutante, wife, mother Episcopalian, convert to Catholicism, and a resident of New York City and Baltimore. (1)
And these are just some of the parallels!
On the recommendation of Regina Bechtle, SC I began to read “Saints by Our Side: Elizabeth Ann Seton”. I was not disappointed.
One of the marks of a good biographer is the ability to capture something of the spirit of the person. With so much in common, she used her excellent writing skills to put hElisabeth’s spirit into words… and in less that 100 pages of text that fit easily into purse or pocket.
The text lends itself to savoring short segments but is such that some might find it difficult to put down. Beyond the text, she offers a set of excellent reflections at the end. For example
“3. The many dimensions of human experiences connect saints to people in any time and place. Elizabeth experienced a wide range of challenges and joys as a daughter, wife, mother, laborer, and convert to Catholicism. God’s love and the hope for eternal life gave purpose, meaning, and direction to Elizabeth’s life. Elizabeth’s life. Elisabeth’s sacrifice and service to others gave her peace. That peace of God is also meant for us. She changed “Why, God?” into “With God’s help, why not?”
How might Elizabeth’s life resonate with your own experience? Have you ever asked ,”Why, God?” How might God be calling you to deeper trust in his wisdom and providence?
The book also provides a quick chronology and excellent list of resources for further reading.
I was intrigued enough to visit Anne Merwin’s website. Again, I was not disappointed. I found what amounts to an excellent photo gallery of key places and memorabilia in Elisabeth’s life.
The same page offers links to historic sites in New York, Baltimore and Emmitsburg.
The Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in New York City
Located across from the Staten Island Ferry in the Battery Park area of Lower Manhattan
The Mother Seton House in Baltimore
Saint Mary’s Spiritual Center & Historic Site
This site at 600 North Paca Street is less than a mile from Baltimore’s Basilica and less than two miles from Baltimore’s Amtrak station, baseball and football stadiums.
The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
in Emmitsburg, Maryland
The Shrine in Emmitsburg is over an hour’s drive from both Baltimore and Washington, D.C. It is about a half an hour’s drive south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
To read about the Sisters and Daughters of Charity, who trace their roots back to the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s, founded by Mother Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland in 1809, please visit the following websites:
The Sisters of Charity Federation
The Federation includes the Sisters and Daughters of Charity.
The Sisters of Charity of New York
I am an Associate of this congregation.
Anne Merwin has a B.A. in History and Music from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She has worked in public radio, classical music management and time management. However, when she converted to Catholicism and was introduced to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Anne found her vocation.
As a past President of the Mother Seton House in Baltimore and now as an Associate of the Sisters of Charity of New York, Anne enjoys each opportunity to share the legacy of the Sisters’ foundress, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. She looks to Elizabeth Ann Seton for guidance and inspiration in her daily life as a wife, mother and grandmother.
(1)In her own words… “I met Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton because of my husband. One weekend in the early 1990’s he suggested that we visit her house in Baltimore. He told me I had a great deal in common with her. I reluctantly agree to put our active youngs sons in the car and go to a museum, where I would have to prevent them from running through the exhibits. When I arrived and walked through the front door of the Mother Seton House, I felt a peace that engulfed my mind, my body, and my soul. I knew I belonged there. From that day on, I have tried to learn as much as possible about Saint elizabeth An Seton. Wht I did not realize was how much she would teach me about my own life through her example.
We are all part of God’s family through the communion of saints. My relationship with Elizabeth has another, earthly dimension, however, because I am related to her sister-in-law Mary Hoffman Seton. I have other things in common with Elizabeth. She and I were both Episcopalians from New York City who converted to Catholicism while we care for our young children. Her maternal grandfather was a Protestant clergyman as was my maternal great-great-grandfather. Religion was engrained in our families. Brought up to be debutantes, we sent to private schools for girls and studied music. We both married men from New York who changed the direction of our lives. Circumstances concerning our husbands led us to Catholicism and to Baltimore at the age of thirty-three. Elizabeth found her mission in life while living at her house on Paca Stree, and at that same house I discovered joy in promoting her legacy.
The other similar circumstances in our lives are too numerous to list here. They helped me understand Elizabeth’s sotry. I never planned these events; they just happened. In retrospect, my connections to Elizabeth gradually nad gently unfolded like a sunrise at dawn. Divine education teaches through revelation. My personal connections to Elizabeth can be best understood in light of a short over of her life.