National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton to Honor Saint as Patroness of the Sea Services at Annual Pilgrimage for the Sea Services on October 7 at 3 pm

Admiral William J. Fallon, U.S. Navy (Ret.) Chairs Pilgrimage Committee

Emmitsburg, MD —The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton will host hundreds of visitors on October 7 at 3 pm 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 only event of its kind in the United States, the Sea Services Pilgrimage draws hundreds of visitors to the Shrine for a Mass and reception. “This year we are honored to have Admiral William Fallon assuming the chairmanship of 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 Admiral James D. Watkins, who in 1977 successfully petitioned the Vatican to establish Saint Elizabeth Ann’s patronage of the Sea Services. “The Shrine is tremendously grateful to Admiral Watkins for his strong, faithful leadership of the Sea Services Committee,” said Judge. “Because of Admiral Watkins an entire generation of Catholics in Naval Uniform and their families have had the peace and consolation of knowing that they have a saintly intercessor who understands the challenges associated with serving at sea.” Judge continued, “We are equally grateful that Admiral Fallon has stepped forward to lead the committee and grow the awareness and devotion to Mother Seton as Patroness of the Sea Services.”

“It is my honor to serve as chair of this committee,” said Fallon. “Admiral Watkins laid the foundation and successfully led the committee for over 30 years. It is my intent 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 the Bishop of Richmond Francis Xavier DiLorenzo. The Ceremonial Honor Guard from Washington, D.C. will present flags and add a dignified and patriotic sentiment at the Mass. Deacons and altar servers will be provided by seminarians from Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary.

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