Presenter Information

Kathleen Flanagan S.C.


Elizabeth Seton was influenced by three men: John Henry Hobart, an Episcopalian minister; Louis William Dubourg, a powerful Sulpician; and John Carroll, the bishop of Baltimore. Hobart represented minority views even within his own church because he was “High Church”— he believed in the importance of the episcopacy and of the sacraments. He inspired Elizabeth and strengthened her scriptural and sacramental piety. He provided readings that made her reason her decision about which church to belong to, although she did not rely on reason alone. Dubourg suggested that Elizabeth move to Baltimore, was highly instrumental in establishing Saint Joseph’s Academy, and was the first superior of the Sisters of Charity. Both Dubourg and Carroll believed that women’s education was as important as men’s and that education would be the means for Catholics to be accepted into American society. They thought that if Protestants and Catholics shared schools, they would also learn to live together. Elizabeth shared their ecumenism and accepted Protestant students at her academy. The Sulpicians’ influence on her is described, as is her experience as a member of Saint Patrick’s parish in New York.