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Elizabeth BAYLEY (Mother Seton) was born in New York City in - page 4 / 12





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Born in Ireland in 1811, she was educated at Emmitsburg, Maryland, and

entered the Sisters ofCharity there at the age of eighteen. Tradition has it that she was prepared for her Fi rs t Communion by Mother Seton herself. This is

quite possible, for Rose was ten years o f age before Mother Seton died in 1821, and it is known that even in the midst o f h eavy administrative duties

an d h er p hysical weakness, Elizabeth Seton made it a point to spend some time daily with the chil d ren of the school. However, even without that

gracious personal t o u ch , Sister Basilia McCann certainly received the ull

lavour of Elizabeth Seton’s in luence rom her own pioneer Sisters at E mmi t s b u r g . W i t h Sister Basilia came Sisters Mary Cornelia Finney and Mary

Vincent Conklin, who had both trai n ed at Emmitsburg ; and Sister Mary

Rose McAleer, a newly professed Sist er o f 2 2 w ho was to become the next Mother Superior when the other three returned to New York.

Sister Basilia’s training was in child care, and it was in this that Bishop

Walsh of Halifax had asked the Sisters to labour. H al ifax in 1849, like many other North American cities, was looded with re ugees, es p eci ally the Irish,

victims of the potato famine. Organizing the care of their children was the beginning ofthe Sisters’ work. Halifax was a lively city. Garrison and seaport, it b u s t l ed with military

and merchant business. Its people appear to have been endowed with a social consciousness that had echoes across the land and down the years. It appears

t h at t h e v ery pluralism of its society made it possible for a minority group like Cat h o l i cs to make a stand for their rights. Nova Scotia passed the irst

anti-slavery laws in the Brit ish Empire. Richard John Uniacke fought for and

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    b tained the emancipation of Catholics in Nova Scotia. Need I menti o n Jo e

Howe and his defence of reedomofthe press, and its in luence on the granting

of responsible government in the colonies. Needless to say, i n s u ch a socio-polit i cal cl imate, Catholics were encouraged to ight for and maintain

their particular institutions. A s t h e city expanded, so did the newly established congregation o f

Si s t ers. In a few short years the Sisters became solidly accustomed to th e educational systemof the city. They were granted provincial teachers’ licenses

in 1851. They insured their own continuity by sending six young women to


Mother Stella Maria Reiser

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