Presenter Information

Vie Thorgren


Vie Thorgren identifies three “gifts of relationship” in Elizabeth Seton’s life that empowered her and others around her. She explains how these are relevant to us and how they are “helpful for an understanding of charity that embraces justice.” First, Thorgren explores Elizabeth’s relationship with her father, and with God by extension, and how both gave her the first gift, “the authority of the Father’s Daughter.” In Jungian psychology, the Father’s Daughter is a woman who is practical, adaptable, and capable of gaining others’ trust. As a Father’s Daughter, Elizabeth knew the difference between authority and control. Authority is legitimate because it is exercised within the context of a relationship. Control is simply domination. Thorgren says the second gift was Elizabeth’s capacity to “midwif[e] the laboring Spirit”—she was able to make death a “blessed time” for the dying because she was unafraid of it. Similarly, Thorgren concludes, we must be unafraid of the death of old ways of life as fairer ones are created. The third gift, “real presence,” enduring love without barriers, is something we must demonstrate to bridge the gap between rich and poor.