In Port Chester, Seton Circle Is Mercy in Action

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At St. John Bosco parish in Port Chester, the Seton Circle parish ministry continues to be an extension of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s work as a “missionary of mercy.”

The ministry, which celebrated its 100th anniversary April 28 (Divine Mercy Sunday), sees Mother Seton as a true model of missionary mercy. She was a wife, mother, widow, convert to Catholicism and foundress of the Sisters of Charity.

“To have a parish organization go on for 100 years is cause alone for celebration,” Father Patrick Angelucci, S.D.B., parish pastor, said July 29 in a phone interview with CNY.

“But more than that, it’s the work that they’ve done throughout all those years, reaching out to children and young people...Right now they have members that were from all four churches in the parish merger. It is the parish’s oldest organization.”

Father Angelucci stressed that Mother Seton spent her life filled with intense love for Jesus and for her neighbor. He also noted that her sisters, with their schools, hospitals and nursing homes, remain witnesses to that love.

In 1919, inspired and encouraged by the Sisters of Charity, who taught in the former Our Lady of Mercy School for more than 100 years, a group of women in Our Lady of Mercy parish joined to support Mother Seton’s works and to be an extension of her mission of love and charity. Thus, the Seton Circle was born.

Following the recent parish reconfiguration, the Seton Circle carried on this mission in St. John Bosco parish, and continues to support the work of the New York Foundling Hospital in the Bronx, and the Sisters of Charity’s works on behalf of young people in need. (The Foundling was founded by the Sisters of Charity in 1869 as a home for abandoned children; today it offers an expansive array of services for underserved children, families, and adults with developmental disabilities).

The Seton Circle is “mercy in action,” and something that the parish rightly feels proud about, needs to celebrate, and hopes to see still flourish in another 100 years, Father Angelucci said.

The way to celebrate Divine Mercy every day, he said, is to witness to it by following the example of Mother Seton, by bringing mercy to others, especially the young, the poor and the most marginalized.

Pat Barr, president of the Seton Circle, said the group now has 25 members; two who attended the anniversary celebration also attended the canonization of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Rome in 1975. Ms. Barr also noted that three Sisters of Charity who served at Our Lady of Mercy School attended the anniversary Mass and reception as special guests —Sister Nancy McNamara, who was a principal, and Sister Sheila Brosnan and Sister Helen Wade, who were teachers.

“We have two bake sales every year, and we make donations to the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center in Yonkers,” Ms. Barr said, adding that the Seton Circle also helps support parish charitable programs, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas projects that benefit needy families.

Joan Greve, 89, one of the members who attended the 1975 canonization in Rome, recalled it as “a very special and spiritual day for us.”

Barbara Celestino, 88, a member and past president of the Seton Circle, said she joined the group in 2005 “because I was very impressed with Mother Seton’s work. She was a very spiritual lady. We do our fundraising in her name.”

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