‘Friendship of My Soul,’ a book of selected letters of Elizabeth Ann Seton, first native-born Saint of the United States – compiled and edited by Sister Betty Ann McNeil, D.C., provincial archivist for the Daughters of Charity, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Compiled and edited by Sister Betty Ann McNeil, D.C., provincial archivist for the Daughters of Charity, Emmitsburg, Maryland, this new presentation of Seton letters chronicles her relationship with three women on the themes of friendship, faith, and family from 1803 to 1809.

This period spans the period of Elizabeth Ann’s life as Mrs. William Magee Seton, the Widow Seton, and Mother Seton.

An inspiring introduction and postlude offers insights into her life context in order to bring the human and spiritual struggles of Elizabeth Ann Seton to light. The Seton letters selected by Sister Betty Ann highlight the many realities which Elizabeth Ann Seton faced as a wife, mother of five children, devoted Christian, Catholic convert, and foundress of the Sisters of Charity, a courageous pioneer in founding the first free school for Catholic girls staffed by religious women.
Rarely does a story come along where a reader feels effortlessly transported back through Time— where words and thoughts vividly convey a feeling of Life some two hundred years past. Friendship of My Soul presents the reader with a true sense of personal challenge and self-fulfilling destiny from the writer’s own hand.

In Friendship of My Soul, Sister Betty Ann presents letters penned straight from the emotions of the heart—detailing Mother Seton’s courage and her religious quest. These writings serve as a ‘silent witness’ to Elizabeth Ann’s search for inspiration and hope in her God, her new Catholic faith, and her Spirit-driven desire to begin what she sees as her mission to help poor persons in need and to educate children in the faith.
“It sometimes reads almost as if she is sitting next to me, pouring out memories of happenings,” noted one reader. “The heart cries for her pain, and we feel her gratitude.” Another reader reported that she read this work before retiring at night but simply “couldn’t put it down because Elizabeth was speaking so intimately to her.”
Friendship of My Soul serves all as an insightful account of the life and times of one grace-filled woman some 200 years ago. Her experiences are relevant today for others whose struggles are similar—and who search for the Faith necessary to overcome challenges today.

Friendship of My Soul follows Sister Betty Ann’s compilation of daily reflective quotes entitled Light & Grace, Elizabeth Ann Seton on Life, Faith, and Eternity (Emmitsburg: 2009) and her editorship of the recent revision of the definitive biography by Annabelle Melville, Elizabeth Bayley Seton 1774-1821 (Hanover), updated and published in 2009.

A native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Sister Betty Ann earned a master’s degree in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1975. Since 1988, she has represented the Emmitsburg Province of the Daughters of Charity on the Vincentian Studies Institute of the United States, and presently serves on the editorial board of Vincentian Heritage for the Vincentian Studies Institute at Chicago’s DePaul University.
Both Friendship of My Soul and Elizabeth Bayley Seton 1774-1821 are available for sale through the Gift Shop of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Orders may be placed by calling (301) 447-7122, by e-mailing giftshop@setonshrine.org or ordered online at http://www.setonshrine.org/shop/contact_shop.htm.

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