Friday, August 12, 2011

Finally, I Meet a Sister Amanda!

Never in my life have I met a Sister Amanda (which is, God willing, what my name will be in a few years). However, a few months ago, in Emmitsburg, I finally met one. And not only that but she was even a Daughter of Charity!

She survived civil war in her native country and worked in an orphanage for many years smack dab in the middle of the fighting and even helped found a school for girls. Not only that but, at one time, she was even on the Council of her province! 

But....

....

....

It's really too bad she's dead....I would have loved to talked to her!

Yes, I'm talking about Sister Amanda Higdon, who died in 1894 at the age of 62. I found her one day when I was wandering around the old cemetery at the Seton Shrine. She was originally from Alexandria, VA and did all those things that I said - she worked in an orphanage in Mississippi from 1860 - 1870...(for you non-history buffs, the Civil War started in 1861 and ended in 1865!) She then helped found an all-girls school in Emmitsburg and later became the secretary for the Council.  I was inspired to write about her because a Salesian Sister has been writing about some of the first Sisters in her blog. Unfortunately, I don't know that much else about her. Maybe one day, if I have permission, I can dig in the Archives and see what else I find. However, by guessimating dates, she most likely joined around the age of 18 - which would be 1850. It was in the 1850's that Mother Seton's Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph combined with the Daughters of Charity. What a crazy time that must have been. Mother Seton's Sisters had to trade their black habits and caps for the blue habits and white wings of the Daughters. They had to learn more about their roots in France. And of course, some Sisters left because they thought that Mother Seton wouldn't have approved the merging. It was rough times for the Sisters in Emmitsburg and Sister Amanda had most likely not even taken her first vows when all this happened. How did she feel? Was she torn about the merging? Did she see some of her friends leave? Or did she join later, when the merge had already happened?

I feel like there is much to learn from these Sisters that have gone before me! And while that Sr Amanda's real name isn't Amanda (she was born Hannah Maria), I still feel a deep connection with her and feel relieved that I won't be the first Amanda in the entire American history of the community!

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