Guest post by Sister Louise Grundish, Archivist, Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, Greensburg, PA
Mother, did you dream
As you opened the door
Of a “home for the Sisters,”
That your fifty spiritual daughters
Would one day number Fifty score and more?
Did your vision see the towers
Rising atop the Hill
A Litany of Homes:
Administration, Saint Joseph,
Marian, Lowe, and Ennis;
Sullivan, Reeves, Lynch,
Brownlee, Canevin, Doran,
Maura, Regina, DePaul,
Bayley and Assumption,
Who followed your footsteps
Up the Hill?
Could your faith, your hope,
Follow Elizabeth Seton’s counsel
To “be children of the Church,”
As seven parish schools
Spread out across the land
To Arizona, California,
Then back again to Maryland
Where it all began?
Did your compassion
In Elizabeth and Vincent’s spirit
Point the way to ministry to His poor,
In health and social needs
Until the charity of Christ
Urged your daughters Across the sea
On that hope-filled day,
Did your visition sense the peace
Of the blessed ground
Where you lie
Encircled by your daughters,
While their sisters come
To pray and ponder
Your courage and perseverance?
Do you, today,
With all our sisters gone ahead,
Look down on this Centennial year
With pride, and joy, and thanksgiving,
For all the wonders
God has wrought
Through your daughters?
–Sister M. Thomasine Steel, S.C.
This tribute to Mother Aloysia Lowe was printed in the Community Newsletter the summer of 1970 as the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill celebrated the 100th year of their foundation. Now as we approach Christmas 2013, we pause to remember this valiant woman whose legacy we cherish. Christmas is the anniversary of her death and each year we pause at evening prayer to pray for this woman who left all that was familiar to travel to the Allegheny mountains and establish a Community for the people of Western Pennsylvania and beyond.
Maria Lowe was born in 1836, entered the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 1852 at the age of 16,was sent to establish a new foundation in Altoona, Pennsylvania then part of the Pittsburgh Diocese in 1870 at the age of 34.
As the Community grew, Mother Aloysia searched for property to provide a home for the sisters.
In August, 1882 at the age of 46 she purchased 193 acres of property in Greensburg, Pa.
Wasting no time, Mother Aloysia took possession of the property, established the Novitiate in Greensburg, opened an Academy and began planning for construction at the top of the Hill given the appropriate name, Seton Hill. Ground was broken and the cornerstone laid in 1887 and in the spring of 1889 at the age of 53 the Motherhouse building was complete. With that work completed Mother Aloysia resigned as superior in August, 1889.
Mother Aloysia had little time to enjoy a somewhat lighter load of responsibility, the years of care and concern for the sisters and their works had taken a toll of the courageous woman. On Christmas Day, 1889 as the Angelus was ringing at noon, with her sisters at her bedside, Mother Aloysia died peacefully. She left very few personal possessions and keepsakes. However, in the Archives of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill a small paint box is displayed.