St Elizabeth Ann Seton and a small band of sisters moved to Emmitsburg MD in 1809. A friendship was born between Mother Seton, as she was known then, and Father John DuBois. Her small group accepted Fr. DuBois’ hospitality and lived for six weeks in his mountain cabin while their first home in the Valley, the Stone House, was readied. Elizabeth and her sisters founded Saint Joseph’s Academy and Free School, which eventually evolved into St. Joseph College.
When I moved to Whiting and St Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in December, I felt like I’d come full circle. You see, I was a student at St. Joseph College in the late 60’s. I’ve walked the ground St Elizabeth Ann Seton trod with her sisters and her children, and I’ve climbed the mountain where she stayed in Fr. DuBois’ cabin.
When I arrived freshman year, I was a Protestant. I wasn't require to take the Scripture classes or to attend mass, but I did. There were the usual college campus distractions, but I was hearing a clear call to investigate this Catholicism that was all around me. I studied the Baltimore catechism with the college chaplain for several months, all the while attending mass nearly every day.
Like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, I came to see the Blessed Virgin as my own mother. Like her, too, I fell in love with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It was almost painful for me to remain on my knees while others went forward to receive Holy Communion. Finally, six months after arriving at St. Joe’s, I became a Catholic; the next day I was privileged to receive the Blessed Sacrament for the first time.
My Protestant family did not ostracize me like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s did, but they were none too happy. Nor were they pleased when I married a good man from the Catholic men’s college down the road, but they eventually got over it. Many years later, I sponsored my own mother as she made her profession of faith and entered the Catholic Church. I thank God for Mother Seton’s little school that grew into the fine college that brought me and my mother into the Church.