The Story

August 13, 1817Let us imagine Mother Seton as she stood at the door of the White House in Emmitsburg on the morning of August 13, 1817, and wished Cecilia and Felicity God-speed.

She, a native New Yorker, knew what neither Sister could have imagined; indeed, she understood well the challenges they would face. New York at the turn of the 19th century was a daunting place for those caught in the grip of poverty, or who were new to the country. There were few “safety nets” to relieve the suffering of those who had scarce resources on which to depend.

And the Sisters themselves?

Surely they were curious, excited and a bit anxious about what they were about to undertake. They needed Mother Seton’s assurance they would find affirmation and support from the Catholic community who were longing for them to come.
“Do the best you can and leave the rest to our dear God,” was Mother Seton’s advice.
Picture a time in your own “life’s journey” when you had to leave a place you had called home. Was the leave-taking hard? Spend a few minutes recalling the scene.

Acts 1: 6–9, 11

Now having met together, they asked him, “Lord, has the time come for you to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided on his own authority, but you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will come to you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judea and Samaria, and indeed to earth’s remotest end.”

As he said this he was lifted while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight.
“Why are you Galileans standing here looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way as you have seen him go to heaven.”


The Book of Acts suggests we must experience leave-takings to become witnesses. Recall a time when you were a witness to the truth of Jesus’ presence. Perhaps it was when you engaged in a new ministry, or when your life circumstances changed. What were the blessings found there for you?

Words of Vincent

“So, give yourselves to God, my dear sisters, humble yourselves profoundly and never 
be afraid…Is it not this very confidence in God which should induce you to undertake 
all those charitable deeds in which you are to be employed? You are aware, Sisters, that 
it is not you who give yourselves the strength and courage to undertake all that you do through charity.”

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

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

View 200th Anniversary Prayer by Regina Bechtle, SC