EMMITSBURG, MD – His Eminence, Edwin Cardinal O’Brien, Grand Master Emeritus of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and former Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, will be the main celebrant and homilist at the annual Pilgrimage for the Sea Services Mass on Sunday, Oct. 2, at 3:30 p.m. EDT, at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 339 South Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, MD, 21727-9297. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, will concelebrate the mid-afternoon Mass.
The annual pilgrimage draws hundreds of people each year to the Seton Shrine for a special Mass and dinner where members of U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, and Public Health Service join family, friends and members of the public in prayer to ask Mother Seton, the Patroness of the Sea Services, for her continued intercession for the safety of those serving the country in the Sea Services. The Mass will also be televised live on EWTN for those who cannot join in-person.
The Pilgrimage and dinner that follows is made possible each year by the Seton Shrine Sea Services Committee, which is a group of retired service members and their spouses chaired by Admiral William J. Fallon, USN (Ret.). Due to COVID-19 precautions, the dinner will be distributed in “take-home” containers again this year. Please RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org for the meal count.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), a Catholic convert and founder of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, was the first native-born American to be canonized by the Catholic Church. Pope Paul VI declared her a saint in Rome on Sept. 14, 1975, after which then-Chief of U.S. Navy Chaplains Monsignor John J. O’Connor—later His Eminence John Cardinal O’Connor, the Archbishop of New York—took the initiative to have her proclaimed Patroness of the Sea Services. Admiral James D. Watkins, then Chief of Naval Personnel, collaborated closely with Rear Admiral O’Connor in that effort, and in 1977 they created a medal honoring Mother Seton because of her link to the Navy through her two sons, William and Richard, both seafarers.
From 1977 to 1993, the Daughters of Charity at Emmitsburg hosted an annual day of prayerful observance for Catholic sailors devoted to Mother Seton as their patroness. In 1994, due to the increasing demands of a smaller Navy, the event was discontinued, but through the efforts of Admiral Watkins and his dedicated group, it was reinstated in 1998, and continues to be observed every year on the first Sunday in October, giving military personnel, veterans, and their families an opportunity to seek the intercession of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton for the safety of all who serve at sea.