The Sisters of Charity is a religious order following the tradition of Saint Vincent, by devoting their lives to others living in poverty.
Who was Saint Vincent?
Saint Vincent (Vincent de Paul) was born in Gascony, France in 1581 and devoted his life to serving those in poverty. In 1625 he founded the Vincentian order and later the Daughters of Charity. ST. Vincent was canonized in 1737 and declared patron saint of the Sisters of Charity. His bones and heart are considered relics and are housed in Paris. Followers of Saint Vincent commit their lives to helping the poor.
What is the legacy of the Vincentian tradition in America?
The patron saint of the Sisters in America is Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, the first native born American canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. She was born in New York City to a wealthy businessman but organized trips with other well-to-do ladies to poorhouses. Her organization was called the “Ladies of Charity” and is the ancestor of today’s Sisters of Charity. St Seton is also the patron saints of parochial education, Shreveport, Louisiana and the State of Maryland. Educational institutions such as Seton Hall University and the College of Mount Saint Vincent trace their roots to Vincentian traditions.
How are the Sisters of Charity organized?
Several American congregations are represented by the Sisters of Charity Federation in the Vincentian-Setonian Tradition. The federation was originally conceived to advocate for the canonization of Elizabeth Seton in 1947. Today the federation represents the sisters at the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The Executive Director is Sr. Mary Ann Daly, SC. She serves as a liaison to federation members and speaks on behalf of the federation.
What are some traditions of the Sisters of Charity?
The Sisters of Charity wear a modernized version of the traditional Catholic habit. The traditional habit is a distinctive black ankle-length outfit but during the warmer months, sisters wear a white habit. Sisters engaging in community work, such as nursing homes and infirmaries wear a white dress for health and practical reasons. All Sisters wear a cross in the letters JMJV (Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Vincent) as well as a skull and crossbones at the base of the cross, signifying their belief that they must die to the world in order to serve Christ.
How does one become a Sister of Charity?
For those interested in a life in the Sisters of Charity, Our Lady Mother of the Church in Connecticut invites prospective sisters to join them for three days at their Motherhouse where they can witness and experience the lifestyle firsthand. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org