By Christina Hermoso
Commemorative masses will be held in many parts of the world, including the Philippines, today in honor of the holy woman who laid the foundation for the parochial school system in the United States – Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint.
The well-loved founder of the Sisters of Charity was born in New York in the year 1774. She was pious from youth and became known for her initiatives to educate young people. In 1809, she established the first religious order in America, the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, which was modeled after the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, with the main apostolate of setting up educational facilities as well as hospitals.
St. Elizabeth died in 1821 and was canonized by Blessed Pope Paul VI on Sept. 14, 1975 during the observance of the Holy Year and the International Year of the Woman.
When former President Benigno Aquino visited the U.S. in 2010, he was conferred the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton medal, the highest award being given by the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York, in recognition of his service as a public official. The same institution offers the Aquino scholarship in honor of one of its distinguished alumni, the late former President Corazon Aquino.