Beginnings

From Vincentian Encyclopedia

Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul (D.C.) of the United States [Catholic Directory 0760]. Founded 1633 in Paris by Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac as a lay confraternity to serve Jesus Christ in persons who are poor and marginalized. Today in the United States this society of apostolic life traces its roots to the 1809 foundation by Elizabeth Bayley Seton under the direction of the French Sulpicians of Baltimore. After receiving orders for the Sulpicians to return to their principal work of conducting seminaries, Deluol accelerated strategies to unite the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's with the Company of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of Paris, France. The Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of New York (1846) and the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati (1852) developed directly from the Emmitsburg foundation. The Daughters of Charity of the United States was one of six congregations which founded (1947) the Sisters of Charity Federation in the Vincentian and Setonian Tradition.


Mother Elizabeth Boyle
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Sisters of Charity of New York
Birth 1788
Death 1861

Sisters of Charity (S.C.) of New York [CD 0650]. Originated in the 1809 foundation by Elizabeth Bayley Seton and began (1817) at New York City, as a mission from Emmitsburg to educate and care for children and other works of charity. Became autonomous (1846) under the sponsorship of Bishop John Hughes of New York (1797-1864) with Mother Elizabeth Boyle (1788-1861) as the first superior (1846-1849). She been formed by Mother Seton in the Emmitsburg community and in a letter of October 25, 1820, Mother Seton referred to Elizabeth Boyle as “dearest old partner of my cares and bearer of my burdens.” This congregation is rooted in the Regulations for the Society of the Sisters of Charity of America which it modified to allow for the care of male orphans. This congregation later assisted in establishing the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of Halifax, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, and the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception. This institute of diocesan right was a founding member of the Sisters of Charity Federation.


Margaret Cecilia Farrell George
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Sisters of Charity of Cincinatti
Birth 1787
Death 1868

Sisters of Charity (S.C.) of Cincinnati [CD 0440]. Originated in the 1809 foundation by Elizabeth Bayley Seton and began (1829) at Cincinnati, Ohio, as a mission from Emmitsburg. Became an independent institute (1852) under Archbishop John Baptist Purcell (1800-1883). Mother Margaret Cecilia Farrell George (1787-1868) was the first superior (1853-1859). She had also been a prominent member of the Emmitsburg community. Mother Seton wrote her a prophetic letter dated May 28, 1819, in which she told Margaret George: “You have so much to do for our Lord.” The Cincinnati community retained the Regulations for the Society of the Sisters of Charity of America but added the care of male orphans. This congregation assisted with the establishment of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth and the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill. It became a pontifical institute (1927) and was a founding member of the Sisters of Charity Federation.




Sisters of Charity (S.C.) of Saint Vincent de Paul [CD 0640]. Founded 1856 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, by William Walsh, bishop of Halifax (1844-1858), with the assistance of the Sisters of Charity of New York who had established (1849) a mission in Halifax and supplied the first sisters and officers for the new institute. Mother Basilia McCann (1811-1870), who had formerly belonged to the Emmitsburg community (1830-1847), was the first superior (1849-1855;1855-1858). Their rule, derived from the Regulations for the Society of the Sisters of Charity of America and based on that of the New York institute, was modified for Canada. This congregation became a pontifical institute (1913) and was a founding member of the Sisters of Charity Federation.


Sister Mary Xavier Mehegan George
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Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth
Birth 1825
Death 1915

Sisters of Charity (S.C.) of Saint Elizabeth [CD 0590]. Founded 1859 at Newark, New Jersey, by James Roosevelt Bayley (1814-1877), bishop of Newark and a half-nephew of Elizabeth Bayley Seton. Sister Margaret George who had lived with Mother Seton, directed the formation of the first novices, who were trained in Ohio by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. The Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of New York sent Sister Mary Xavier Mehegan (1825-1915, superior 1859-1915) and Sister Mary Catherine Nevin (d.1903, Mother Assistant 1859-1903) to organize the new institute in New Jersey. They both later opted to join the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth when it became autonomous (1859). The institute is rooted in the Regulations for the Society of the Sisters of Charity of America. This congregation was a founding member of the Federation and later became a pontifical institute (1957).






Mother Aloysia Lowe
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Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill
Birth 1836
Death 1889

Sisters of Charity (S.C.) of Seton Hill [CD 0570]. At the request of Bishop Michael Domenec, C.M., (1816-1878), bishop of Pittsburgh, the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill were officially established (1870) as a separate congregation for the Pittsburgh diocese. Mother Regina Mattingly (1826-1883) of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati installed Mother Aloysia Lowe (1836-1889, superior 1870-1889). The first novices were trained by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. Originally the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati had anticipated that their sisters who were sent to Altoona would eventually return to Ohio; gradually, most of them were recalled. In 1888, however, at the advice of Bishop Richard Phelan (1828-1904) of Pittsburgh, Mother Aloysia and Sister Ann Regina petitioned the superiors of the Cincinnati motherhouse for permission to remain permanently with the new foundation. The permission was granted. This congregation is rooted in the rule from Cincinnati derived from the Regulations for the Society of the Sisters of Charity of America. It was a founding member of the Federation and later became a pontifical institute (1957).


Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception (S.C.I.C.) [Canadian Religious Conference 119]. Founded 1854 at Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, by Honoria Conway (Sister Mary Vincent, 1815-1892) to care for children left orphaned after a cholera epidemic. The foundress, a novice with the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of New York, volunteered to go to Saint John at the urgent request of Bishop Thomas Connolly, O.F.M.Cap., (1815-1876). Sister Ermelinda Routanne (1822-1894), who previously had belonged to the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's at Emmitsburg (1842-1848?), became a founding member of this congregation (1854) and was known as Mother Mary Frances (second superioress,1862-1865). This congregation is rooted in the Regulations for the Society of the Sisters of Charity of America. This congregation became a pontifical institute (1908) and joined the Sisters of Charity Federation in 1979.


Suzanne Cyr (Soeur Marie Anne)
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Les Religieuses de Nôtre Dame du Sacré-Coeur
Birth 1850
Death 1941

Les Religieuses de Nôtre Dame du Sacré-Coeur (N.D.S.C.) [Canadian Religious Conference 177]. Established (1871) as a mission at Bouctouche in New Brunswick, Canada, of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception to minister to French-speaking Acadians in order to help them preserve language, culture, and faith. Encouraged by Bishop Edward Alfred LeBlanc (1870-1935), Suzanne Cyr (Soeur Marie Anne, 1850-1941), an Acadian, and fifty-two other Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception formed (1924) an independent congregation. This congregation is rooted in the Regulations for the Society of the Sisters of Charity of America and was founded as a pontifical institute. It joined the Sisters of Charity Federation in 1986.








Mother Catherine Spalding
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Sisters of Charity of Nazareth
Birth 1793
Death 1858

Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (S.C.N.) [CD 0500]. Established 1812 in Nazareth, Kentucky, by Reverend John Baptist David, S.S., (second bishop of Bardstown, Kentucky, 1832-1833), and cofounder Mother Catherine Spalding (1793-1858, superior 1813-1819; 1824-1831; 1838-1844; 1850-1856) to minister to Catholic families on the frontier. Simon Bruté, S.S., made a handwritten copy of the Regulations for the Society of the Sisters of Charity of America for the Nazareth community. Six sisters withdrew (1851) to establish a new congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Nashville, Tennessee, which later became the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas. This congregation became a pontifical institute (1911) and joined the Sisters of Charity Federation in 1991.






Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy (O.L.M.) [CD 0510]. Established 1829 at Charleston, South Carolina, by Bishop John England (1786-1842) to teach young girls, instruct African-American slaves, and care for the sick and infirm. Bishop England obtained the Regulations for the Society of the Sisters of Charity of America. His successor Bishop Ignatius Reynolds (1798-1855), who had served previously as chaplain and second superior of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (1833-1835), modified the rule according to England's recommendations. This institute of diocesan right joined the Sisters of Charity Federation in 1994.


Mother Xavier Ross
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Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth
Birth 1813
Death 1895


Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth (S.C.L.) [CD 0480]. Developed from a mission of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth at Nashville, Tennessee, under Bishop Pius Miles, O.P., (1791-1860), and initially became the Sisters of Charity of Nashville (1851). After a misunderstanding, the sisters left Nashville and went to Leavenworth at the invitation of Bishop John Baptist MiPge, S.J., (1815-1884), vicar apostolic of Indian Territory, Kansas, and continued to follow the same constitution under the title of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth (1858). Mother Xavier Ross (1813-1895), formerly of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, was the first superior (1858-1862; 1865-1877) of the Leavenworth community. The institute received the Regulations for the Society of the Sisters of Charity of America through Bishop John Baptist Purcell of Cincinnati. This congregation became a pontifical institute (1915) and joined the Sisters of Charity Federation in 1995.




The Sisters of Saint Martha (C.S.M.) were formally established as a religious congregation in 1900 after a providential beginning six years earlier. The first members came from a group of women who had responded to a call from Bishop John Cameron of Antigonish , Nova Scotia, in 1894. They were to be part of an auxiliary congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Halifax, and prepared for the ministry of household management at St. Francis Xavier College. A surprising change of direction occurred in July, 1900, when, in the silence of a retreat, the sisters were invited to establish themselves as a new and separate religious congregation, and to indicate their choice by standing. One by one, fifteen women stood and together they marked the beginning of an incredible journey into history. This Congregation joined the Sisters of Charity Federation in 2003.

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Conclusion The Federation honors the particular history of each member congregation and their common charism rooted in the founding spirit of Louise de Marillac and Vincent de Paul who instructed the early servants of the poor November 24,1658: “How consoled you will be at the hour of death for having consumed our life for the same purpose as Jesus did! It was for charity, for God, for the poor . . .” (Poole, 7:397). In instructions and meditations Elizabeth Seton reminded her companions of the significance of their name, Sisters of Charity, exhorting them to be faith-filled women of mission. “No personal inconvenience should prevent Sisters of Charity [from] doing what duty and charity require” (Council, August 20 1814). The members of the Federation provide mutual support to one another in living their mission of Charity in the modern world through their shared legacy of the Vincentian and Setonian Tradition.