More than 300 Sisters, Associates, Companions, and colleagues came together in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mount Saint Vincent for the Evening Prayer Service on Sunday, January 8 that ushered in the Congregation’s 200th Anniversary celebration. As music and song filled the chapel, a procession featuring gifts symbolic of the “enduring bond of Charity” of the past two hundred years were presented. The gifts included:

The life of prayer at the heart of our service.

A tapestry worked by an orphan girl in the 1800s, a globe and a stethoscope
Child care, education, and health care—our three earliest ministries in New York.

A Bahamian conch shell and Guatemalan weavings
Our missions outside of the U.S.

The Scriptures and the first and current Constitutions of the Sisters of Charity of New York
The words that inspire and give direction to our life.

Sister Jane Iannucelli, SC, then welcomed all gathered with these words:

It is so good for us to be here in this magnificent chapel where generations of Sisters of Charity have prayed. It is most fitting that you who have been such a part of our lives are here to share this day with us. We gather in prayer to ask God’s blessing on this New Year, a year of special celebration for us. We begin this celebration of the 200th Year of Sisters of Charity presence to the people of New York with you, our Sisters, brothers, priests, colleagues, families and friends.

Our service here in New York has, by the grace of God, continued without interruption for two centuries. Over the years, that service has spread to many other places in our country and beyond, especially to the Bahamas and Guatemala. Even as we rejoice in the blessings of these 200 years, we focus our vision on a future full of hope. The graces of this new time of Charity are before us —as yet unknown and unseen. We open our minds and hearts, waiting for these graces to be revealed to us and eager to receive them.

As we continue our journey together, we will carry these graces to our city and beyond. We are like those seekers of the light, those wise ones who long ago looked for the sign that God was with them —and weren’t they surprised with the sign that God had given them: a young couple, a helpless child, poor migrants without a home. Our God comes to us in surprise in many ways, probably —as Elizabeth Seton says— when we least expect it. The future does hold so many surprises!

Prayers for the evening included readings from Psalm 118, Psalm 23 (Elizabeth Seton’s favorite), and Psalm 112, as well as Ephesians 3:14-21. Sister Mary McCormick, SC, offered the reflection for the evening, weaving the theme of the Magi and the king whom they sought with the challenge accepted by Elizabeth Ann Seton “to bring God’s love to a place of poverty and desperation,” the arrival of the three Sisters in New York to care for orphan children, and the ensuing mission of the Sisters of Charity as it grew and has continued for two hundred years. Click here to download Sr. Mary’s reflection.

After the prayer service a new video created to commemorate the anniversary titled, “Rebuilding Lives with Love,” was introduced by Sister Sheila Brosnan, SC, in Smith Hall.

At the conclusion of the evening, Sister Jane extended the Congregation’s heartfelt gratitude to all  who made the Evening Prayer possible, especially Sisters Maryellen Blumlein and Regina Bechtle, who coordinated the event and prepared the prayer service, and the 2017 Anniversary Committee headed by Sister Sheila Brosnan, Regional Coordinator.

A Special Note of Recognition and Gratitude
Under the direction of Andrew Bauer, the choir—which had been practicing for months—and the musicians braved the cold and the snowy roads the previous evening in order to raise the music to a level of perfection. The music truly made the Evening Prayer Service all the more beautiful and memorable. Thank you!

For a limited time, a streaming of the service will be available for viewing. Please note that due to technical difficulties, the first ten minutes of the service is not shown.