Meet the Author of the Latest Biography about Elizabeth Ann Seton at The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Catherine O’Donnell

Emmitsburg, MD — Arizona State University professor and author Catherine O’Donnell will be at the Seton Shrine’s Chat with an Author event on Sunday, April 14, to talk about her new book, Elizabeth Seton: American Saint. O’Donnell will be chatting with Sister Betty Ann McNeil, D.C., who has also extensively researched Elizabeth Ann Seton’s life.

There are a variety of books about Elizabeth Ann Seton, but O’Donnell’s book is the first biography of Seton in over 67 years. O’Donnell spent quite a bit of time researching Seton’s life, using correspondence, journals, reflections, and community records. O’Donnell’s writing enriches readers’ understanding of women’s friendships and choices within the often-opaque world of early religious communities, and upends conventional wisdom about the ways Americans of different faiths competed and collaborated during the nation’s earliest years. In her book, O’Donnell reveals Seton the person and shows how, with both pride and humility, she came to understand her own importance as Mother Seton in the years before her death in 1821.

If you can’t attend in person, you can see the Chat on Facebook. The Shrine will streaming the Chat live on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethAnnSeton/, beginning around 3:30 pm on April 14.

“When the idea of this book came about, I wanted to make a valuable addition to the reference information already in existence about Elizabeth Seton,” said O’Donnell. “Annabelle Melville wrote her biography of Elizabeth Seton back in 1951 using many letters and resources from the Daughters of Charity in Emmitsburg. I wanted to accurately portray Seton’s background like Ms. Melville did, but also wanted to delve into her life from different contexts to give people a sense of the person she was and provide a new perspective on the life she led.”

O’Donnell continued, “I’m delighted to return to the Shrine on April 14 to talk about the book with Sister Betty Ann McNeil. I have such a high regard for Sister Betty Ann and her wealth of knowledge about Elizabeth Seton. There are so many interesting aspects of Elizabeth’s life to share with the audience. I’m looking forward to engaging with attendees and helping them discover facets of her life they may not know about.”

Mark your calendar to attend Chat with an Author at the Seton Shrine on Sunday, April 14, at 3:30 pm. The Chat is free, and you can reserve your free ticket at setonshrine.org. Attendees will have a chance to ask questions, and O’Donnell will sign books at the end of the event. Light refreshments will be served as well.

If you can’t attend in person, you can see the Chat on Facebook. The Shrine will streaming the Chat live on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethAnnSeton/, beginning around 3:30 pm on April 14.

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Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first native-born U.S. saint. The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton promotes her life and legacy to inspire everyone. More than 200 years ago, she came to Emmitsburg as a bankrupt widow with five children, and went on to found the first free Catholic school for girls staffed by sisters in the U.S., and the first community of religious women established in the U.S. Today, her legacy includes several religious communities with thousands of sisters, who serve others through schools, social service centers and hospitals throughout the world. Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized in 1975. Her remains are entombed at the National Shrine that bears her name.


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