The Story

August 20, 1817The Sisters arrived in New York eager to see their new home on Prince Street and start to make it ready for the children they were privileged to assist. 

The house, of course, was not ready. In the meantime, Robert Fox, his wife and daughters offered them the hospitality of their home. When they were finally able to move in, they discovered their “home” had been part of a hospital dating back to the Revolutionary War. It was known as the “dead house;” there were still bloodstains covering the floors where autopsies were performed. 

With the help of new-found friends among the Catholics of the city, the Sisters transformed these grim rooms into a home for the first orphans, five boys, ranging in age from eleven months to eight years. The Sisters lived for a time on carrot coffee, soup and potatoes to be able to provide the children with nourishing fare.

This humble beginning of the Sisters of Charity presence in New York anticipates the work—and works—the Sisters would carry out in their 200-year history. Orphanages, schools, hospitals, social service agencies, and more, would involve the Sisters and their lay colleagues in outreach and compassionate care for many in need, especially the poor. 

Scripture, Matthew 25: 34–40

“Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”

Then the righteous will answer him and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?” 

 And the king will say to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least of mine, you did for me.” 


How have I reacted when I encounter a person caught in the grip of poverty? Can I recall a special relationship that I have been blessed with because I risked speaking or reaching out to a stranger? 

Words of Elizabeth

“The joy of my soul at the prospect of being able to assist the poor, visit the sick, comfort the sorrowful, clothe little innocents, and teach them to love God!”

Virtual Retreat prepared by Sisters Maria Iglesias, SC, and Mary E. McCormick, SC

New Beginnings—The Journey, August 13–20, 1817

New Beginnings—Leave-Taking, August 13, 1817

New Beginnings—Dying, August 14, 1817

New Beginnings—Leadership and Support, August 15, 1817

New Beginnings—Planting Good Seed, August 16, 1817

New Beginnings—The Mass, Our Center August 17, 1817

View 200th Anniversary Prayer by Regina Bechtle, SC