EMMITSBURG, MARYLAND —The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton will welcome visitors on October 6 at 3 p.m. for its annual Pilgrimage for the Sea Services. Members of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and The United States Public Health Service along with family members and friends will gather at the Basilica in Emmitsburg. The event is held each year to honor Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton as Patroness of the Sea Services and ask for her intercession for all the men and women serving in our nation’s Sea Services.
The Sea Services Pilgrimage draws hundreds of visitors to the Shrine for a Mass and reception. “We are honored to have Admiral William Fallon, U.S. Navy (Retired) chair the Sea Services committee,” said Rob Judge, executive director of Seton Heritage Ministries. The committee is instrumental in coordinating the annual event and spreading devotion to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton as the Patroness of the Sea Services, and we are blessed to have Admiral Fallon leading a renewed effort to further this great devotion.”
Fallon, a four-star admiral, served for 41 years in the U.S. military and his last assignment was a Commander, U.S. Central Command from March 2007 to March 2008. The Sea Services Pilgrimage was previously chaired by the late Admiral James D. Watkins, who in 1977 successfully petitioned the Holy See to establish Saint Elizabeth Ann’s patronage of the Sea Services.
“It is my honor to serve as chair of this committee, assisted by Vice Admiral Bill Earner,” said Fallon. “Admiral Watkins laid the foundation and inspirationally led the committee for over 30 years. It is my desire to bolster participation in the pilgrimage and devotion to our Patroness through greater outreach to our active duty ranks. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is a beacon of hope for the men and women serving our country at sea.”
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s link to the sea services stems from the U.S. Navy service of her two sons, William and Richard. Her deep concern for William, who was appointed midshipman on the fourth of July in 1817, is evidenced in the many letters she wrote him during his 17 years of service. In February 1818 he reported for duty aboard the USS Independence, and in July, he was assigned to the USS Macedonian, which sailed from Boston around Cape Horn to Valparaiso, Chile. While he was on this voyage, his mother died on January 4, 1821. Mother Seton’s letters to her sons at sea showed a mother’s concern in startling clarity. Elizabeth Ann would worry that she didn’t know where they were at sea and if they were okay. “Now men and women at sea can know they have a Saint watching over them. They can entrust their loved ones to her care,” said Admiral Fallon.
The Naval Academy Catholic Midshipmen Choir will provide music at the Mass, which will be celebrated by Monsignor Stuart Swetland, S.T.D., a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and currently serving as the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Chair for Christian Ethics at Mount St. Mary’s University. To add a dignified and patriotic sentiment at the Mass, The Military Ceremonial Honor Guard from Washington, D.C. will present flags with an Honor Guard from the Knights of Columbus. Deacons and altar servers will be the seminarians from Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary.
Contact 301.447.6606, or visit www.setonheritage.org for more information.
About The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton:
Two hundred years ago in Emmitsburg, Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s, the first new community for religious women to be established in the United States. She also began St. Joseph’s Academy and Free School, the first free Catholic School for girls staffed by Sisters in the United States. Her enduring legacy now includes six religious communities with more than 5,000 members, hundreds of schools, social service centers, and hospitals throughout America and around the world. She was canonized on Sunday, September 14, 1975 in St. Peter’s Square by Pope Paul VI. The first citizen born in the United States to be raised to the altars, her remains are entombed here in Emmitsburg in the Basilica and National Shrine that bears her name. Seton Heritage Ministries, founded in 2011, promotes the life and legacy of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, as a source of inspiration and encouragement for all people.
About the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS):
The AMS was created as an independent archdiocese by Pope John Paul II in 1985 as the only Catholic jurisdiction responsible for endorsing and granting faculties for priests to serve as chaplains in the U.S. military and VA Medical Centers. AMS-endorsed priests serve at more than 220 U.S. military installations in 29 countries, making the AMS the nation’s only global archdiocese. AMS-endorsed chaplains also serve at 153 VA Medical Centers throughout the U.S. The AMS service population also includes American Catholic civilians working for the federal government in 134 countries, but currently, due to limited resources, the AMS cannot adequately serve this population. Worldwide, an estimated 1.8 million Catholics depend on the AMS to meet their spiritual and sacramental needs. For more information on the Archdiocese for the Military Services, visit www.milarch.org, the only official Web site for Catholics in the military and for the Cause of Father Vincent Capodanno, MM.