Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American-born saint and “foundress of modern-day Catholic Education” was born in New York City of a wealthy and devout Episcopalian family, the daughter of a professor of anatomy at Columbia University. She was the stepsister of Archbishop James Roosevelt Bayley of Baltimore. In 1794 Elizabeth Ann Bayley married William Magee Seton, a wealthy merchant with whom she had five children. After the death of her husband, during a trip to Italy, she converted to Catholicism in 1805. In 1809 with 4 companions she founded a religious community near Emmitsburg, Maryland. Thus began the first American religious society, The Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph.
By the time of her death the new order had spread through the United States. The Sisters of Charity opened an asylum for girls in Harrisburg in 1828. The Sisters also staffed Saint Catherine Laboure School in Harrisburg from 1949 until 1975, the year of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s canonization.