December 31: Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Bishop in the Niger Territories, 1891

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About this commemoration

In Canterbury Cathedral on St. Peter’s Day, June 29, 1864, Samuel Ajayi Crowther (c. 1807 – 1891) was ordained the first African bishop in Nigeria for “the countries of Western Africa beyond the limits of the Queen’s domains.”

Crowther’s gifts to the church were many. A skilled linguist, he helped translate the Bible and Book of Common Prayer into Yoruba and other West African languages. He founded schools and training colleges, where he encouraged the study of the Gospel, traditional subjects, and farming methods that allowed students to raise basic crops and cotton as sources of income. As a child, Crowther had been captured in 1822 during a Nigerian civil war and sold to Portuguese  slave traders. Intercepted by a British anti-slavery patrol, the ship and its human cargo were taken to Freetown, Sierra Leone, a haven for freed captives after the British Parliament abolished the slave trade in 1807. There Crowther was educated at a Church Missionary Society (CMS) school, was baptized in 1825, and became a teacher in Sierra Leone, an active center of African Christian ministry that sent indigenous lay and ordained ministers throughout West Africa.

Crowther’s leadership skills were soon evident, and in 1842 the CMS sent him to their Islington, England, training  college. He was ordained a year later, returned to Sierra Leone, and then moved on to Yoruba territory. He also made extended mission journeys to the interior of Nigeria, where in encounters with Muslims he was known as a humble,  patient listener and a thoughtful, non-polemical partner in dialogue.

At the time of his ordination as bishop, the British tried to keep missionary activity solely under the control of white British clerics, some of whom set about subverting Crowther’s authority, something he patiently endured, while actively continuing his expansive work among Africans. Despite the difficulties, Crowther’s achievement was considerable, and he has been called the most widely known African Christian of the nineteenth century. He created a solid base from which a much later generation of indigenous African leadership emerged to chart their own political and ecclesial futures.


I Almighty God, who didst rescue Samuel Ajayi Crowther from slavery, sent him to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to his people in Nigeria, and made him the first bishop from the people of West Africa: Grant that those who follow in his steps may reap what he has sown and find abundant help for the harvest; through him who took upon himself the form of a slave that we might be free, the same Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

II Almighty God, you rescued Samuel Ajayi Crowther from slavery, sent him to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to his people in Nigeria, and made him the first bishop from the people of West Africa: Grant that those who follow in his steps may reap what he has sown and find abundant help for the harvest; through him who took upon himself the form of a slave that we might be free, the same Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Isaiah 60:4–9

Romans 8:15–23

Matthew 9:35–38



Preface of Pentecost

Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.


We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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46 thoughts on “December 31: Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Bishop in the Niger Territories, 1891

  1. Today marks the ½ way point, which began July 1st, in this democratic adventure of comment on HWHM.

    Though there are but a dozen or so of us who post regularly, I know that we are grateful to the SCLM for providing a way for us to offer our varied comments.

    Hopefully one or two of our comments will make it through to strengthen the 2012 edition of HWHM.

  2. Collect: IMO, this collect reads and prays well.

    Readings. And, IMO, these readings seem to be a good set for the commemoration.

    Bio. He lacks a ‘who is he’ and ‘why is he important’ statement. And, a ‘He died in 1891.’ statement.
    1st paragraph: Listing Bishop Crowther’s birth and death years in parentheses is not consistent with other bios in HWHM.

  3. Yes. I echo Michael Hartney – thanks for the on-going chance to help edit [and sometimes nitpick] HWHM drafts. It has been a learning process for me, the occasion of laughter as well as wonder. A blessed new year to all.

  4. Ditto Cynthia and Michael. Also: what an amazing person and what a dramatic story. I am very glad to know about him–his combination of strength and humility, for one thing. Also glad to know something about Christian mission in Nigeria at that time.

  5. Today and the day after tomorrow we honor Anglicans who were “first” in foreign lands. While being first may well be a forerunner of a holy life, and all these folk, many of them indigenous, seem appropriate for at least local veneration, it does seem to me that many of them will remain obscure to Episcopalians, now and in the future.

    I suggest that this bio should be in the usual chronological form, beginning along these lines::

    “Samuel Ajayi Crowther was born in about 1807, in the Yoruba area of what is now Nigeria. In 1922, as an adolescent, he was captured during inter-tribal conflict, and sold…. “(continuing on line 2 of the third paragraph.)

    Continue with the fourth paragraph, and then this: “On June 29, 1864, Crowther was ordained…” (continuing on line 2 of the first paragraph.)

    I would continue with the second paragraph, and then omit or at least abbreviate the fifth paragraph, which is as much about the evils of British imperialism as it is about Crowther.

  6. Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Bishop in the Niger Territories, 1891
    Again, an impressive and significant Christian example for our commemoration, for which thanks is due to the SCLM. I have to agree with Nigel’s suggestions about the details being presented more chronologically (and, I feel, more logically) than at present.
    In the biography, two sentences could well be shortened. In one, the words, “a haven for freed captives after the British Parliament abolished the slave trade in 1807” could be omitted, or ended with the word “captives.” The Parliament action and its date seems unnecessary in that sentence. The following sentence contains relevant information but could easily be presented in two simpler sentences. (“There Crowther was educated at a Church Missionary Society (CMS) school, was baptized in 1825, and became a teacher in Sierra Leone, an active center of African Christian ministry that sent indigenous lay and ordained ministers throughout West Africa.”) I suggest a period after “Sierra Leone” and a repeated subject for the remaining facts, e.g., “Sierra Leone was an active center…etc.”
    My other comment on the biography concerns the final sentence: “He created a solid base from which a much later generation of indigenous African leadership emerged to chart their own political and ecclesial futures.” It sounds ego-centric, as if it’s about individuals engineering a campaign to gain public office and good paying, high profile ministry positions. “Chart their church’s political and ecclesial future” sounds preferable, to my ears.
    A correct pronunciation of Ajayi would be a help to me. Otherwise, my guess would sound like three letters: A-J-I (with emphasis on the J).

  7. I also have an interminably long and maybe overbearing comment on collects — again. I don’t see the collects as satisfactory, for a number of reasons. Sorry it’s so long.

    Collect: Some of my postings on collects may sound like a “rant,” but that’s not my intention.
    I feel the collect engages the praying person if it’s well conceived, while at the same time filling in a sense of vision about Christian ministry and the Church’s mission. That’s a lot to throw away if we have a poorly constructed collect (or a series of them).
    Although I have seen the elements of a collect reduced to three (invocation, petition, and conclusion), Wikipedia lists these as the elements of a collect:

    Collects (the liturgical action and the prayer) have a recognizable form:
    • 1) Invitation (“Oremus” – Let us pray)
    • 2) Address (the person of the Trinity who is being addressed, but usually the Father)
    • 3) An attribute or quality of the deity, which relates to the petition (often “qui …” – who)
    • 4) The Petition (the matter being asked about or requested)
    • 5) The Reason or Result expected (begins with the word “ut” – that)
    • 6) Christian conclusion (“per Christum Dominum nostrum” – through Christ our Lord), or other longer doxologies
    • 7) General affirmation (“Amen.”, untranslated from the Hebrew) lists the elements this way:
    The traditional collect follows a set format :
    1. Address the Father;
    2. appeal to something about God’s character that is relevant to what is being prayed about;
    3. the request, usually drawn in some way from the Scripture readings for the day;
    4. why you’re asking;
    5. through Jesus;
    6. a praise of God.

    A good collect begins with an invocation of God normally involving something about God’s self-revelation or an attribute that bears on the commemoration at hand. In today’s, the connection might be between Crowther’s having been rescued from captivity or slavery, which in its way recalls God’s leading the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt, or God’s leading Onesimus (in Paul’s letter to Philemon) into Christian ministry from his former slavery. The invocation might say, “O God whose service is perfect freedom” or “O God who leads those you love into the grace of the gospel,” etc. By contrast, “Almighty God” has little apparent connection with the commemoration here, and amounts to a perfunctory generic opening, like “God or Current Occupant.”
    A thanksgiving, although not “officially” part of the collect format, sometimes follows the invocation, connecting the commemoration with the attribute or self-revelation cited. (This is important, I think, not least because God doesn’t just sent programmed robots into ministry to accomplish needed tasks – he gives life in its wholeness to whole persons, and the church’s mission simultaneously thrives as people discover the full parameters of their life through discovering and using God given gifts in God’s work, as God shares life with the world through them, and through the baptismal life of the Church as a Body.) This is very different from merely saying, “You created Joe to do this job.” The thanksgiving credits God “as God,” and also credits God as the caring giver of an intrinsically loved life, in a world worth redeeming, saving, and blessing.
    So far, we have an invocation and a thanksgiving: “O God who leads those whom you love from captivity into the grace of the gospel, we thank you for Samuel Crowther, whom you freed and called to become a bishop in your Church and a pioneer in faith for the people of the Niger Territories.”
    After these, the petition and related “so that” clause follow. They need to be formulated with an eye not just to the ephemeral details of the biography, but to God’s purposes working within the kinds of situations the biography suggests. Today’s would point to a petition that focuses on the saving effects of Crowther’s ministry, rather than simply recalling some of the dramatic details leading to his life as a cleric. (Occasionally, the “so that” clause will suggest how the petition should be framed.) Ideally, I find it most satisfying when there is both a “big picture” (the whole Church’s ministry) and a credible “individual dimension” to the collect. Two things I find objectionable are collects with no “so that” clause (i.e., nothing of consequence for those who are asked to pray the collect) and collects that let God know what he (or others) should do, but which do not touch upon the lives of those praying the collect (e.g., “send more bishops, send more money, send more youth, make the church more relevant” – unspoken – “but leave me out of it because that’s somebody else’s concern.”)
    An example: “Grant that your Holy Word may be heard, loved and lived in all corners of the world, so that with Samuel Crowther, we and all your people may proclaim, by word and example, the Good News of God in Christ.” Finally, comes a Trinitarian ending and an “Amen.” (I thought the ending was excellent today, and unique in the way it did what the invocation failed to do – namely, find and state the link between God’s past self-revelation and the commemoration.) Needless to say, I would love to see more adequate collects with these wonderful commemorations.

    • A friend of many years once suggested this way to remember the elements of a collect:

      YOU – address to God
      WHO – what it is about God that leads us to make this prayer
      DO – what we are asking for
      TO – for whom/what we are asking this
      SO – the outcome we desire
      THROUGH – doxilogical conclusion*

      *John, Is not thanksgiving present in how we speak of the One to whom we pray & through whom we pray?

  8. I feel “shakey” about advocating a thanksgiving line when that’s not a standard part of every collect. Not every collect is for a commemoration, however. Those in HWHM are. A thanksgiving may not be called for in many other cases, but I include it in these comments because it seems entirely appropriate in a commemoration collect.

  9. About John’s comment that the phrase “after the British Parliament abolished the slave trade in 1807” could be omitted: I think that fact and date as related to where freed captives could go are quite important. They jumped at me when I first read the bio, and they add to an understanding of the context of Bishop Crowther’s life story.

  10. In the bio, it would be helpful to put the geographical information into the context of today’s Anglican Communion—is the Nigeria of the bio the same as the nation of that name today? Is there a church in West Africa today that considers Crowther one of its founding fathers?

    There is something misleading in the use of the phrase ‘the British’ when talking about those who tried to keep missionary activity solely under the control of white British clerics. It implies (or it did to me, at least) some arm of the British government, when in fact it was an element within the CMS: the more traditional evangelicals in CMS supported Crowther’s policy of evangelisation by education and the growth of indigenous ministry, while a younger group associated with the ‘holiness’ movement, an English version of the charismatic movement, believed that spiritual power in the missionaries was the key, and apparently thought that Africans were incapable of being vehicles of that power. Not that the bio needs to say all that, but ‘some new members of CMS began trying to put missionary activity back under the control of white British clerics’ would be more accurate.

    The only thing I’d add to John’s helpful summary regarding collects is the note of simplicity—I was taught that a collect should have a single idea animating it, an idea which could be seen at work in the various parts of the collect. When, as at Morning or Evening Prayer services, it is appropriate to bring more than one idea into focus, we use more than one collect rather than trying to put too many ideas into one collect.

    When, as in this case, the life of the person commemorated touches on more than one aspect of the growth of the church’s understanding of its life and ministry, I think it’s better not to try to refer to them all directly in the collect, but to look for some over-arching theme in them which can animate the collect without undermining the essential simplicity of the form. It seems to me that evangelism is the ‘big idea’ here, with education and the building up of indigenous ministry being means to that end, and I’d suggest simplifying the collect around that theme.

    • Well said, Philip. Thank you. (Today’s and the previous one.)
      Celinda, you may be right. I doubt you have anything to fear because I said it. If they were hanginig on every word I type, they’d have run out of rope long ago! I just felt that sentence was overburdened with data, and consequently needed simplifying one way or another.

      Happy Gnu Year, all!

  11. Dear HWHM commenters,

    I have been in contact with Dr. Ruth Myers, Chair of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, and she assures us that they are working to get January’s HWHM commemorations posted in a timely manner.

    In the meanwhile we will just have to be in constant prayer for:
    Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah
    William Passavant
    and Elizabeth Seton.


  12. OK, it’s official.
    The (now ) monthly wait-for-the-HWHM-blog-to-restart limerick contest begins today.
    Such lush rhyming opportunities: Vedanayagam, Azariah, Passavant, and Seton await our twisted minds …

    All right now … run along. 🙂

  13. #1

    Every day his Mom and Dad prayed
    That their son be a kind man.
    And Vedanayagam did just that
    When the bishop would tip his new hat.

    • That should be:

      Every day his Mom and Dad prayed
      That their son would be a kind man.
      And Vedanayagam did just that
      When the bishop would tip his new hat.

      Still lame.

  14. #2

    The good pastor Pass’vant,
    when founding Thiel College,
    made sure all were welcomed
    and assured them of knowledge.

  15. When Elizabeth sailed for old Italy
    She spent all her time with her children
    But then suddenly she
    When confronted with Rome
    Decided ‘twas time to go home.


  16. Crowther is certainly a valuable addition to the calendar. It is importa nt that we recognize the inportance of African Anglicanism, especialy now when our relationship with those churches is so strained.
    I have no particular comments about the bio or the propers.

  17. Can’t the Commission do something to get this show back on the road? Trade months? Bring in a relief pitcher?

    • I’m assuming someone has a serious conflict and is not just ignoring this, and could use some backup. I know nothing about putting up pages on a blog, but I could do some drone work if copying from the print edition and emailing the document to someone who knows what to do with the “copy” would help. I presume my email address is accessible to those in charge. People’s habits change after a while, and I’d hate to lose the participation of those who have been part of this. It’s been a whole week since the 31st, the last posting. That’s unprecedented, so rather than be my “nitpicking” (but oh-so-lovable) self, I’d be willing to help until the logjam is cleared. Then I can go back to nitpicking.

  18. My attempts at limericks were so lame that no one else tries? 😦
    Well, how about we just begin a conversation about the HWHM commemorations so far. We began in July and it has been six months.
    Topics could include:
    * Appropriateness of newly added commemorations for Trial Use
    * Style and composition of the Collects, both old and those for Trial Use
    * What makes a ‘good’ bio for HWHM
    * What are the elements that make Scripture choices appropriate
    * Non-Anglican/Episcopal vs. Anglican/Episopal commemorations
    * Balance of inclusion for women, indigenous people, British vs. non-British, racial diversity, etc, etc..

  19. On the last item listed above: if a person seems included primarily for balance, and not his or her inherent ‘worth’ [sorry – not the best word], then dropping that person may be in order. I don’t mean people posting here have not heard of – I had never heard of Bishop Crowther, and rejoice in his inclusion – but people whose biographies don’t reveal as extraordinary. And a ripe old can of worms that could be, but one, I think, worth opening.

  20. Cynthia.
    I entirely agree.
    And perhaps when all is said and done come June 30th this year we could encourage the SCLM to post a complete list of the commemorations on a Monkey Survey (to the uninitiated a Monkey Survey is a simple online survey instrument that is widely used these days) to let us vote them up or down, or on a scale 1-5. The survey could also allow us to choose why we vote one way or another.

    I do know that the Standing Liturgical Commission (the precursor to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music) made an effort to include more women, persons of color, and indigenous people in previous editions of Lesser Feasts and Fasts. I assume that HWHM continues that effort.

  21. If the Standing Commission on Music and Lit
    Only knew with what gladness we greet each new bit
    Of info received on these most worthy folk,
    They might understand why this delay is no joke!

    These four are all missing from old LFF,
    HWHM’s not on my shelf,
    Without daily bios we wait and we wonder—
    Just who allowed this almighty blunder?

    Hartney suggests we discuss and debate,
    LaVoe volunteers, but I merely wait,
    And try to control th’increasing desire
    To read of this chap (or chapess) Azariah,

    Mysterious Seton, and as for Passavant—
    Have you an idea? I confess that I haven’t.
    But I’m most intrigued by that glorious name,
    Pronounced, perhaps, Vedanayagam,

    Or Vedanayagam—however it’s said,
    What wonders must soon in that bio be read!
    If only the SCLM would wake from their slumber
    And end this long wait for their post-Christmas number…

  22. One more day and I will personally type in the HWHM bios, collects and readings myself. All of you deserve the chance to know more of Bishop Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah – to say nothing of Pastor William Passavant and Mother Seton.

  23. [Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah]
    First Indian Anglican Bishop, Dornakal, 1945

    Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah (1874-1945) was the Anglican Church’s first Indian bishop. Zealous to promote church growth, he was also a strong advocate of ecumenism and church unity among India’s numerous Protestant denominations.

    His father was a village vicar and his mother spent long hours on her son’s religious instruction. After more than a decade working with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), he was ordained a priest in 1909, and in 1912 was ordained bishop of the new Diocese of Dornakal, a populous diocese located in two parts of Madras.

    Azariah was a mainstream broad church Anglican with a high priority for evangelism and much of his preaching centered on the resurrection. His ministry cut across class lines and focused heavily on rural “untouchables” caste members. The bishop’s traditional Anglicanism frustrated many Indian political leaders, who hoped he would be a leading voice for Indian nationalism. Azariah also took sharp issue with Mahatma Gandhi, who was unalterably opposed to Christians trying to convert Indians. Azariah saw conversion as foundational to Christian mission. Gandhi acknowledged the dominant Hindu religious needed reform, but Azariah went further and said it was repressive and grounded in a destructive caste system. He said, “It is by proclamation of the truth that the early Church turned the world upside down … It is this that will today redeem Indian society and emancipate it from the thralldom of centuries.”

    By 1935 the Dornakal diocese had 250 ordained Indian clergy and over 2,000 village teachers, plus a growing number of medical clinics, cooperative societies, and printing presses. Traveling over the vast diocese by bullock cart or bicycle, and accompanied by his wife and coworker, Anbu, Azariah, often built his village sermons around “the four demons – Dirt, Disease, Debt, and Drink.” He believed in adapting liturgy to local cultures. Epiphany Cathedra, Dornakal, which took a quarter century to build, was an architectural statement of the bishop’s vision, mixing Muslim, Hindu, and Christian designs. He saw it as a visual statement of the gifts and beauty of other faith traditions finding their fulfillment in Christianity.

    Contemporary Collect:
    Emmanuel, God with us, making your home in every culture and community on earth: We thank you for raising up your servant Samuel Azariah as the first indigenous bishop in India. Grant that we may be strengthened by his witness to your love without concern for class or caste, and by his labors for the unity of the Church in India, that people of many languages and cultures might with one voice give you glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

    Psalm 37: 23-31
    Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 4: 1-12
    Acts 14: 21-27
    Luke 9: 46-50
    Preface of God the Father

    • Here again we have the inappropriate dates in parentheses.

      Line 1, first paragraph: substitute “was born in a small village in South India during the year 1874” for the rest of the sentence.

      Move the second sentence of the first paragraph to the end of the second paragraph.

      Line 5, second paragraph: I do not understand “located in two parts of Madras”. Substitute “Andhra Pradesh, South India, near Chennai (formerly Madras).” for “two parts of Madras”.

      Line 3, third paragraph: insert “Dalits” and place “Untouchables” in parentheses.

      Line 9, third paragraph: insert “that” after “acknowledged”.

      Line 8, fourth paragraph: either hyphenate “quarter-century” or insert “of a” after “quarter”.

      Add a fifth paragraph: “Azariah died in Dornakal in 1943”.

    • Bio. 1st paragraph: The use of parentheses for dates of birth and death is not consistent with usage throughout HWHM.
      He lacks a ‘He died in 1891.’ statement.

  24. William Passavant
    Prophetic Witness, 1894

    William Passavant was a Pennsylvania Lutheran pastor who left an uncommonly rich legacy of service. He was driven by a desire to see the consequences of the Gospel worked out in practical ways in the lives of people in need. For Passavant, the church’s commitment to the Gospel must not be spiritual only. It must be visible. For himm, it was essential that Gospel principles were worked out in clear missionary actions.

    Passavant was a parish pastor at heart and served in that capacity for much of his ministry even while pursing (sic) other duties. Passavant was the founder of numerous hospitals, orphanages, and other charitable organizations, principally in Western Pennsylvania, but the reach of his efforts extended from Boston and New York in the east to Chicago and Milwaukee in the mid-west. Many of these institutions continue to this day.

    On a visit to Germany, Passavant came into contact with Theodor Fliedner, the founder of the reconstituted deaconess movement among German Lutherans, and in 1849 he invited Fliedner to come to Pittsburgh and bring four of his deaconesses to serve in the hospital there. A year later, in 1850, the first American Lutheran deaconess was consecrated by Passavant and thus began the renewed deaconess movement among American Lutherans.

    Passavant also knew the importance of education and was the founder of a number of church schools scattered across the mid-west, principal among these being Thiel College, a Lutheran-affiliated college in Greenville, Pennsylvania.

    In addition to his charitable, philanthropic, and educational work, and his guidance of the early years of the deaconess movement, Passavant was also a cutting-edge communicator of his time. He founded tow churches newspapers, The Missionary and The Workman, both designed to interpret the church’s mission, in consonance with the Lutheran confessions, for the purpose of provoking the desire of the faithful toward loving service to those in need without concern for race, color, creed, or national origin. Later generations of Lutheran communicators look to Passavant as one of the trailblazers of their vocation.

    Passavant died on January 3, 1984.

    Contemporary Collect
    Compassionate God, we thank you for William Passavant, who brought the German deaconess movement to America so that dedicated women might assist him in founding orphanages and hospitals for those in need and provide for the theological education of future ministers. Inspire us by his example, that we may be tireless to address the wants of all who are sick and friendless; through Jesus the divine Physician, who has prepared for us an eternal home, and who with you and the Holy lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

    Psalm 147: 1-7
    Isaiah 29: 17-24
    Revelation 3: 14-22
    Luke 13: 10-22

    Preface of God the Holy Spirit

    • Line 1, first paragraph: after “was” insert “born in Zelienople, Pennsylvania on October 9, 1821. He attended Jefferson College and later Gettysburg Seminary.” Delete the rest of the first sentence. Move the rest of the paragraph to begin the fourth paragraph. (Once again, we have biographies written to show a conclusion of a person’s service at the top, instead of following the linear chronological order of events. I have consistently recommended that we always begin with what we know about a person’s date and place of birth and early years, before summarizing his or her achievements.)

      Line 6, third paragraph: substitute “set apart” for “consecrated”. Because we use “consecrated” only for bishops in TEC, the use of the word here would be confusing to many readers.

      Line 1, fourth paragraph: insert all the text after “He” from the first paragraph. Begin the rest of the fourth paragraph with the word “He”.

      I have searched in vain for the place of Passavant’s death. It should be added to the final sentence.

    • Collect: The collect reads like a laundry list of Pastor Passavant’s deeds. It could stand a re-write, IMO.

      Readings. This set seems quite good, and are of a good length.

      Bio. He was born when and where?
      2nd paragraph: Typographcal error in the printed edition: pursuing, not pursing.

  25. Elizabeth Seton
    Founder of the American Sisters of Charity, 1821

    Elizabeth Ann Seton was the founder of Sisters of Charity, the first community of sisters native to the United States. She was also a wife, a widow, a single mother, an educator, a social activist and a spiritual leader.

    Elizabeth Ann was born in New York in 1774. She endured a turbulent childhood and suffered severe bouts of depression. She survived by immersing herself in poetry, piano lessons, and devoted participation in the Episcopal Church.

    In 1795 she married William Seton, Samuel Provoost, the first Episcopal Bishop of New York, presided. Three years later, her father-in-law died leaving her husband with the responsibility for a large family and a struggling family business and Elizabeth with a large, inherited family to care for. In 1801 the business failed and the Setons lost everything. Her husband showed the symptoms of tuberculosis and in 1803, they set sail for Italy in the hopes that the warm climate would cure his disease. The Italian authorities fearing Yellow Fever quarantined them in a cold stone hospital for the dying. William soon died and left Elizabeth Ann a young widow with five children and few resources. While in Italy, she discovered Roman Catholicism.

    Returning to New York, she encountered bitter opposition to her new religious leanings. With five children to support, she felt alone and estranged. She turned to Roman Catholic clergy for support and in 1805 she formally converted to Roman Catholicism.

    In 1806, she met Father Louis Dubourg, S.S. who wanted to start a congregation of women religious, patterned after the French Daughters of Charity. In 1809 Elizabeth Ann took vows and became “Mother Seton” to a small community of seven women dedicated to teaching. The sisters were given land in rural Maryland and in 1810 they opened St. Joseph’s Free School to educate needy girls. The Sisters intertwined social ministry, education and religious formation in all their varied works. Mother Seton dispatched sisters to operate orphanages in Philadelphia and New York.

    Elizabeth Ann Seton remained the Mother of the Sisters of Charity until her death on January 4, 1821.

    Contemporary Collect
    Holy God, you blessed Elizabeth Seton with your grace as wife, mother, educator and founder, that she might spend her life in service to your people: Help us, by her example, to express our love for you in love of others; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

    Psalm 119: 105-112
    2 Esdras 2: 15-24
    Romans 16: 19-20
    Luke 14: 15-23
    Preface of a Saint (2)

    • The title, as well as the Collects, show her name as “Elizabeth Seton”. It is appropriate that her second name be included once in the bio: I have suggested that this be in the second paragraph, since the first paragraph is largely redundant. I suggest that she should simply be referred to as “Elizabeth” in the tenth line of the third paragraph and the third line of the fifth paragraph. Using her full name in the final paragraph seems more acceptable.

      Here again we have an entry which summarizes the career in the first paragraph, instead of “starting at the beginning, continuing to the middle, and then going on to the end”.

      Delete the first paragraph, some of which is in the subtitle, and some of which should come later.

      Line 1, second paragraph: add “Seton” after “Ann”.

      Line 1, second paragraph: add “on August 28” after “York”.

    • Readings. NT reading: 2 verses? That’s it. Two verses?
      Gospel: And why did we omit verse 24 – as it completes the parable?

      Bio. 1st paragraph: ‘… the first community of sisters native to the United States.’ Native? Do we mean that ‘originated in the United States’? Native is an awkward word.
      2nd paragraph: She was born in New York. Upstate? On Long Island? In the Adirondacks? The Bronx? Of course it means New York City. Just say it.
      3rd , 4th and 5th paragraphs: She returned to New York (City!)… Married at 21 in 1795, her father-in-law died in 1798, they lost everything in 1801, went to Italy in 1803, began talking with New York Roman Catholic clergy in 1805, converted in 1806, took vows in 1809, opened the school in 1810, and died at age 47 in 1821. All of this information doesn’t read smoothly, IMO.
      Were there two ‘large’ families to inherit (a ‘large family’ as her husband’s responsibility and a ‘large, inherited family’ for Elizabeth to care for)? There were 5 children in Italy; so large = 5?
      Editorial spacing error in the printed edition between the words New and York in the 2nd line of the 2nd paragraph.
      5th paragraph: She operated orphanages in Philadelphia and New York City.
      Her ‘small’ community = seven women whereas her ‘large’ family = five.
      6th paragraph: Was she the Mother of the Sisters or the Mother Superior of the Sisters?
      Sometimes sisters is capitalized and sometimes it is lower case. Which is right? Both?

      Though Mother Seton was baptized (I presume she was though it doesn’t say so.) in @1774 in the Church of England and the then nascent PECUSA, why is this ‘near’ Roman Catholic saint being included in HWHM? If we do shouldn’t there be at least a balance of Roman Catholics becoming Episcopalians in our commemorations? It seems only fair.

  26. I am not sure what is going on with the postings for January. I haven’t heard anything either, but I will take some time this morning to bring us up to speed.

  27. I looks like I will be taking on the blogging for part of this month as well. I apologize for the delay on behalf of the HWHM committee!

  28. I think the commemoration of Samuel Crowther is worthy of inclusion. However, I think the date chosen is unfortunate. No reason is given for the selection of December 31. Therefore, I suggest that we move this to the open date on January 5, which would be preferable, in my opinion.

  29. why are we shying away to exposing and discuss the frustration humble bishop adjai crowther suffered at the hand of ‘white’ missionaries at the tail end of his humble service to god and humanity
    even the anglican family deem it not fit to decorate is grave today

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