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Elizabeth BAYLEY (Mother Seton) was born in New York City in - page 9 / 12





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Archbishop o f t h e Diocese where the Motherhouse was situated, and the

Mother Superior herself. Sometimes it is forgotten that the s u cces s of religious congregations,

their buildings, their numbers, but abo v e al l their works – is due to the leadership of great individuals giving their lives t o God. It has been the

fashion in the past for religious sisters, much to the unhappiness of historians, to p l ay down the roles of individuals whose leadership made possible great

works of chari t y and benevolence around the world. In the presentation of a

close-up of a congreg ation the individual leaders assume their right ul place as key elements in the progress of the work of t h e Ch u rch . Fortunately the

biographies ofour earlier Mothers Superior have been written. A s o u r congregation moved into the twentieth century. the stron g

leadership of Mother Mary Berchmans Walsh had its impact and met with the response that moulded the congregation into readiness for Vatican II.

Mother Berchmans was irst elected to the Council in 1884 for ive years,

then again in 1895; she served as Mother Superior rom 1901 and then became the irst Mother General in 1908, when the Congregation became a

ponti ical institute and the role of a priest Superior General disappeared. She remained Mother General until 1926, but even a ter that was elected assistant

to the next General for two more terms. Mother Berch mans served fortythree

years in one ofice or another. During Mother Berchmans’ terms in ofice the Congregation continued

to open new missions and take on new tasks. There was vision, in the educat i o n , both spiritual and temporal, given the Sisters to prepare them for

the apostolate both current and uture. When s h e became Mother Superior in 190 1 , Mother Berchmans had already been local superior, school principal

and spiritual director in Nova Scotia, Massachusetts, and Ontario, in addition

to having been assistant to three Mothers Superior. Her irst priority was the spiritual life. Despite her love ofSaint Vincent de Paul, and her respect for the

v irtues of simplicity, charity, and humility which she urged for the Sisters o f Charity, Mother Berchmans concurred with the strong contemporary tendency

t o favour directors

Jesuit spirituality. Jesuit Fathers and lecturers. More basic still

came was

to the Mount as retreat

Mot h er

B e r ch man s ’ s

determination that novices complete th ei r t w o-year novitiate before being

missioned. This was to replace the apprenticeship-style oflife. Two p riests especially gave Mother Berchmans the encouragement and

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