The Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center is a Faith- based facility. The Center is named after Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, who was born in New York City in 1774 and proclaimed a saint in the Christian-Catholic tradition in 1975.
Elizabeth’s life was filled with contradictions from the time she was born. She knew what it meant to be motherless, to have an often absent father who was constantly traveling to England to increase his knowledge of surgery, and she never knew until he arrived home if he was still alive – sea travel was quite dangerous. She knew death intimately, having lost her husband, her father, and buried two children of her five within a ten-year period. She knew rejection by family and friends, was left penniless, and had little more to survive except her faith. She left her native city, for Baltimore, Maryland to begin a school and within the year walked 50 miles to Emmitsburg, MD with her little band of children and women wanting to work with her. There she began a community of women, sent them out to different places in NYC, Philadelphia, and Ohio, and died before reaching 50 years of age.
But, Elizabeth was a woman to be reckoned with. Uncommon for a girl of her time, she read every book she could get her hands on, mostly her father’s medical books, and he encouraged her to do so. She belonged to the Episcopalian Church, and was active in social justice in her works of charity. She made clothes, brought food to the widows and orphans in the city; she and her little group were known as the Episcopalian Sisters of Charity. When her father died from yellow fever, she was not allowed to take his body to Staten Island because of the disease; she got a barge, and she delivered her father’s body to St. Andrew’s Church in Staten Island via the creek that ran along the Church’s property. In Emmitsburg, she opened a school going from house to house in the farmland advocating for the children to be educated, both rich and poor alike. She was infinitely creative.
Elizabeth is the model of our mission here. Our children and our families come to us with a variety of difficulties, hopes, broken dreams and pain; they look to us for acceptance as they are and for help in their struggles; to hold them and their child in their need as they find their balance. They teach us courage, determination, and trust. We find the strength we need in our own faith traditions, in one another, and in the example of Elizabeth Seton. They have the right to expect our compassion, our ability to listen vigorously, our collaborative spirit, our ever-growing expertise, in short, our very best, and we give it to them in the same manner Elizabeth exhibited in her life.
Here at Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center, no matter where you work, no matter what your work entails, your work is all about the children – this is the Mission that was the vision of Elizabeth; integrating it into our daily work is our goal.