Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton
Born - August
Died - January
Best known as Mother Seton. Among her firsts were the following:
First American woman to be beatified
Founded the first American order of nuns
Initiated the formation of the parochial school system
Established the first Catholic orphanage in the United States.
She was the daughter of one Richard Bayley, a health officer for the port of New York and a professor of anatomy at King's College. The family was very active in the Episcopal Church.
She grew up in the fashionable part of New York society. In 1794 she married one William Seton, a banker and merchant.Elizabeth Seton was very active in the community, most noted for her work with the sick and the poor. She became known as the Protestant Sister of Charity.
In 1803, the Setons were on a trip to Italy when Mr. Seton took ill and died. It was while she was in Italy that Mrs. Seton was exposed to Catholicism. Upon her return to America, she converted to Catholicism in 1805.
For her conversion, Seton was ostracized by the New York Society and considered moving into a convent. She wound up moving to Baltimore and on the advice of the clergy, established a boarding school for girls. She and her assistants adopted the name Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph.
I believe Seton Hall University in New Jersey is named for Mother Seton as are many other Catholic institutions and schools.
A timeline of the events in Elizabeth Seton's life:
1805 - Reception into the Catholic Church
1805 - First Communion
1806 - Confirmation
1808 - Arrives in Baltimore
1808 - Opens her first school
1809 - Takes her first vows. Received title of "Mother"
1821 - Death of Mother Seton
1907 - Informative Process of Cause begins
1940 - Introduction of Cause at Rome
1959 - Heroicity of virtues declared - She becomes Venerable
1963 - Beatification is granted. She becomes Blessed
1975 - Canonization into Sainthood