Presenter Information

Maryanna Coyle S.C.


This article does not address specific decisions and methods of decision making in Elizabeth Seton’s life and in the life of the community she founded. Rather, it identifies five qualities of Elizabeth’s formation and shows how they influenced her life and thought. These qualities are “a contemplative spirit, a discerning heart, a compassionate presence, faithful service, and a courageous vision.” Elizabeth was contemplative from an early age, which strengthened her and helped her sense God’s presence and love. She “totally entrusted herself to God” and incorporated prayer and counsel into her discernment, using them to counter or at least interpret her strong emotional responses. The development and application of her compassion is described. Compassion helped the Sisters of Charity make decisions because it drew them together as a community. The questions Elizabeth posed to determine whether service was faithful are included. Examples of her vision are given.