By Sister Elizabeth Vermaelen, SC
Shortly before Elizabeth Boyle died (June 21, 1861) she was reflecting on the growth of the community and the passage of time.
“But the sturdy old oaks were beginning to fall now. Ellen Timon and Susan Knott were gone and dear Sister Williamanna. The community would soon be in the hands of a new generation whose roots were entwined around the granite anchorage of this great city. They had never waited for Spring to come to St. Joseph’s Valley. Well, it would be easier for them…”*
And for us, in our day, the sturdy old oaks who carried the charism of charity over so many years are gone as well. I am thinking not only of those elected to leadership, but more of those who day after day, year after year were faithful to our mission and whose very being spoke the name of charity.
Elizabeth Boyle acknowledged that it’s in the hands of a new generation to open the future for us. So much has changed over these 200 years. We grieve the diminishment of our numbers and the loss of so many ministries, even as we welcome new ventures. We must accept the “loss” so to be free enough to allow a new birthing to come even as we allow the dying to happen. We shall continue to strive to be faithful to our traditions, to our values, to our style – traits which have characterized us as Sisters of Charity of New York!
Elizabeth Seton encouraged a Sister going on mission, perhaps to Philadelphia or New York. She encourages us also…
“Keep well to what you believe to be the grace of the moment. You will often be at a stand for what is best in a situation so new, but only do your best as you have always done and leave the rest for our dear God”**
*Walsh, Mother Elizabeth Boyle, p.177
**Regina M. Bechtle & Judith Metz, editors, Elizabeth Bayley Seton, Collected Writings, Vol 2, p. 702.