The Opportunity for a Richer Understanding of Canonization

This is a guest post by our archival intern for the semester, Jenna Brady, Mount St. Mary’s University class of 2023.

Throughout my internship with the Daughters of Charity Archives, I have had the unique opportunity to go through the past newsletters of sisters from the West Central Province in the 1970s. The West Central Province was established in 1969 by the Daughters of Charity in St. Louis as one of five provinces located in the US. While there are several interesting topics and vast stores of history that I have read and learned about, one of the most exciting events was the Canonization of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. This momentous event took place on September 14, 1975 and was an event that many Daughters of Charity petitioned and prayed hard to achieve.

Elizabeth Ann Seton

The newsletters that I have had the opportunity to read and index recount the journey toward canonization and the great anticipation throughout the early ‘70s. The letters make constant reference to the different preparations that were being made by the provinces in anticipation of the canonization of their namesake. The newsletter from October 1975 is completely devoted to the events throughout the province; such as different Masses and talks that were held during the months preceding the canonization.  This description not only shows how important and monumental the canonization was to all involved but as the newsletter states, “brings into focus the oneness of thought and of purpose in the Daughters of WC Province…” (West Central Province Newsletter, October, 1975, 1).  It then goes on to include an excerpt from a sister in each province discussing the steps that were taken in their own province to prepare and celebrate. Many of these sisters are those who had been featured throughout the course of the newsletters regarding different matters of the province.

View of the crowd at the canonization in Vatican City

While the details of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s canonization are easily accessible today, being able to read firsthand accounts of the celebrations and the profound impact this had on her order gives a deeper meaning to the event. Through reading these newsletters, I have been given the opportunity to come to view the canonization not just as a celebration of a new Saint but rather as the canonization of the woman many sisters considered their mentor in faith and mother in life.

Special Edition of the Marillac Provincial Newsletter, October 1975

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