Oscar Romero vs. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Today’s matchup features two Roman Catholics, the martyred archbishop of El Salvador and an American nun known for her charity and educational work. See, we’re doing our part for Christian unity here at Lent Madness. However, lest you think this was a diabolical attempt to pit them against one another, don’t forget Dorothy Day is yet to come.

Yesterday, Janani Luwum trounced Thomas Tallis 69% to 31% and will face fellow martyr Jonathan Daniels in the Round of the Saintly Sixteen. While Archbishop Luwum was a virtual Lent Madness unknown, his inspiring story clearly touched many in profound ways.

Perhaps the biggest story in Lent Madness circles was the resolution of the 2013 Mug Controversy. That collective sigh of relief heard ’round the world was confirmation that Tim finally received his Lent Madness mug, thereby preserving the Lenten Detente between the two members of the Supreme Executive Committee.

oscar_romeroOscar Romero

Oscar Romero was born in Cuidad Barrios, El Salvador, on August 15, 1917. He wanted to be a priest, but his family, like almost everyone else, was poor. He had to drop out of seminary several times before he was ordained, to work as a carpenter. But he finished, he excelled, and he was named a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in 1967.

Romero was known as a quiet, academic type. He had studied at the Vatican in Rome. He was conservative, unlikely to make waves or to upset the status quo. Because of this reputation, in 1977, he was elevated to archbishop of San Salvador, the highest church office in the country.

At the time in El Salvador, 90% of the population lived on less than $100 a year. 200 families owned 75% of the farmable land. A quarter of the children died before the age of five and the average life expectancy was 46 years old. All labor unions were forbidden by law.

A number of the Catholic priests and nuns had begun to question this, to ask what the Christ who healed the leper and befriended the impoverished would make of this situation. Romero’s conversion process had begun when he worked with the poor as a local bishop, but when a dear friend was assassinated by a death squad, it was complete.

Weeks after becoming archbishop, Romero called a meeting of all the clergy, priests and nuns, in the country, to figure out how to respond to the assassination of clergy. He canceled all Catholic services in the country, save the funeral mass at the cathedral in San Salvador where he was preaching. This forced everyone, rich and poor alike to attend the same mass, or commit a major sin.

From this time forward, he broadcast every mass from the cathedral on the radio. Everyone heard his sermons, and he became known as the “Voice of the Voiceless.”  He called on the government to stop the death squads. He called on the soldiers to disobey orders to kill. He called on the rich to support reform. He established a permanent diocesan commission to discover and document human rights abuses in the country. Again and again, he used his authority and power as archbishop to throw the considerable weight of the church behind the oppressed and the victimized.

On March 24, 1980, he was celebrating mass in a small hospital chapel, when he was shot by an assassin whose identity remains unknown. At his funeral, bombs exploded among the 50,000 mourners, killing at least 40, and making Romero’s last sermon even more poignant: “Those who surrender to the service of the poor through love of Christ will live like the grain of wheat that dies…The harvest comes because of the grain that dies.”

Collect for Oscar Romero
Almighty God, you called your servant Oscar Romero to be a voice for the voiceless poor, and to give his life as a seed of freedom and a sign of hope: Grant that, inspired by his sacrifice and the example of the martyrs of El Salvador, we may without fear or favor, witness to your Word who abides, your Word who is life, even Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be praise and glory, now and forever. Amen.

Megan Castellan

seas_framed_1Elizabeth Ann Seton

Born in 1774 into a prominent Episcopal family (her maternal grandfather was rector of St. Andrew’s, Staten Island), Elizabeth Ann Seton grew up a devout Episcopalian. Her spiritual director while a member at Trinity Wall Street was John Henry Hobart, later Bishop of New York, and her wedding was performed by Bishop Sam Provoost. In 1797, as a 23-year-old wife and socialite, she was one of the founders of the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children, the first private charitable organization in New York City, serving as its treasurer.

In 1798, her husband, William Seton, took over the Seton family shipping and mercantile business, which fell on hard times. Facing both bankruptcy and tuberculosis, in 1803 William took Elizabeth and the eldest of their five children, Anna Maria, to Italy in hopes of regaining his health and connecting with a former business connection, Filippo Filicchi. Unfortunately, as news reached Italy of Yellow Fever in New York, instead of recovering in the Italian sun, Seton and his wife and daughter were quarantined in stone barracks. Days after the family left quarantine, William died, leaving Elizabeth, now 29, a poor widow with five small children.

Staying with the Filicchi family, Elizabeth was introduced to Roman Catholicism and found herself drawn to its sacraments and worship. As she wrote to her sister-in-law, “[Y]ou know how we were laughed at for running from one church to another, sacrament Sundays, that we might receive as often as we could; well, here people that love God…can go every day.”

Returning to New York City, she was received by the Roman Catholic Church but rejected by her friends and family, some of whom disinherited her. An impoverished single mother, she ran a boarding house for boys attached to St. Mark’s, New York, but parents withdrew their children upon learning of her religion. After the conversion of Elizabeth’s young sister-in-law to Catholicism, even Bishop Hobart warned others to cut off any communication with her.

Invited to Baltimore to begin a school, in 1810 Elizabeth founded St. Joseph’s Academy and Free School in Emmitsburg, Maryland. This school for girls from poor families as well as paid boarders became the foundation for the parochial school system in America. She trained the sisters to be teachers and wrote the textbooks. In 1812, she established the first religious order for women in America, the Sisters of Charity, which under Mother Seton’s leadership established orphanages in Philadelphia and New York City. She also worked to assist Baltimore’s poor and sick all while continuing to care for her own children. She died in 1821 at the age of 46.

Collect for Elizabeth Ann Seton
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.

Laura Toepfer


Oscar Romero vs. Elizabeth Ann Seton

  • Oscar Romero (68%, 3,294 Votes)
  • Elizabeth Ann Seton (32%, 1,557 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,851

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165 Comments to "Oscar Romero vs. Elizabeth Ann Seton"

  1. Rev. John's Gravatar Rev. John
    February 20, 2013 - 8:07 am | Permalink

    I went with Oscar in stead of EA Seton mainly because Oscar confronted evil face on. No offence to EA Seton, but her endurance was not as profound to me as Oscar Romero.

    • Russ's Gravatar Russ
      February 20, 2013 - 5:19 pm | Permalink

      You are absoluty correct. I remember the turmoil in South and Central America and Oscar Romero was a beacon of hope that was unjustly extinguished.

  2. Deakswan's Gravatar Deakswan
    February 20, 2013 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Voted for Mother Seton for sentimental. I am named after a Sioster of Charity, See her chapel everytime I ride the Si Ferry to Manhattan, and her grandfather, Richard Charleton, was a rector at the first Episcopal parish I attended. I do think Oscar is the runaway favorite on this one, but this one is for Eliza.

    • Craig Clere's Gravatar Craig Clere
      February 20, 2013 - 8:27 pm | Permalink

      I too voted for Mother Seton because of her lecacy and she was once an Episcopalian. Her being the first American born saint of the Roman church also influenced my decision. Oscar Romero had to be the popular choice but I went for the underdog.

  3. Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson's Gravatar Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson
    February 20, 2013 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Gee, Padre Schenck. I’ve been drinking good black coffee from my Mary Mags 2013 LENT MADNESS cup for a couple of weeks now and I’m not in charge of anything. Oh! It just occurred to me…..I paid for mine….and my poster aussi! Think that made a difference in Cincy with your partner, to put it loosely the way you guys carry on? Just jesting…of course.

    • Jane Paraskevopoulos's Gravatar Jane Paraskevopoulos
      February 20, 2013 - 9:34 am | Permalink

      Aleathia-not only did you PAY for your mug, you are very nice to talk with on the phone, AND you write great letters to my boss! Kisses from the FM Penthouse Headquarters.

      • Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson's Gravatar Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson
        February 20, 2013 - 12:51 pm | Permalink

        Did y’all get your raises yet? I enjoyed talking with you also and love writing comments! The Cathedral folk think it’s a hoot because I am so obviously obsessed with LENT MADNESS. I keep being more and more amazed by respondents’ remarks about “fairness” as if “MADNESS” isn’t a BIG clue. Oh well! As my HS French teacher used to say (phonetically for the full flavor) “Well, sex-lah-vigh, y’all!” And people think I’m weird!

  4. Cricket Cooper's Gravatar Cricket Cooper
    February 20, 2013 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    For all my awe at Romero, I think EAS is the underdog here, and as a Baltimorean, I’m backing the hometown girl.

    • February 20, 2013 - 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Grew up in Emmitsburg…gotta go with Mother S!

    • Beth Walton's Gravatar Beth Walton
      February 20, 2013 - 9:09 pm | Permalink

      You go, Cricket!! My reasoning too… and who wouldn’t want to be part of the joy of the Eucharist at any moment, rather than on a strict (and reduced) schedule???

  5. Toni Ponzo's Gravatar Toni Ponzo
    February 20, 2013 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    I had to go with Mother Seton. There’s an old spiritual that says “I asked Jesus to change my name.” His response is your mother and father won’t know you if I change your name. Christ said that we might have to give up mother, father and friends to follow him and she did. I also loved how she got excited about being able to receive communion any time she wanted rather than once a month.

    • February 20, 2013 - 8:55 am | Permalink

      . . . but your children? That might seem “holy” to some people . . . not to me.

      • February 20, 2013 - 11:00 am | Permalink

        She absolutely did not give up her children, and I’m sorry you might have gotten that impression! Being able to care for her own children was of great importance to Seton. In fact, the reason she started a boarding house was so that she could care for them. She continued to care for them while she founded the school outside Baltimore and several of her descendents carried on in ministry in the Roman Catholic church.

        • February 20, 2013 - 12:22 pm | Permalink

          Well, I base that on my convent experience where live-in children would certainly not have been an option.

          • Alice's Gravatar Alice
            February 20, 2013 - 12:33 pm | Permalink

            If you ever get to Emmitsburg you can see the graves of her children. Mother Seton and her children had a very difficult life.

          • February 20, 2013 - 12:43 pm | Permalink

            Well, perhaps you are right — see http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=180
            She was very fortunate to have been able to care for her children/family.

          • Alice's Gravatar Alice
            February 20, 2013 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

            Having been schooled by the Sisters of Charity for 13 years and having been to Emmitsburg, I was well versed in her llife and work. Unfortunately Emmitsburg was, at that time, very much the wilderness. She buried three of her five children there from tuberculosis before dying from it herself at 46.

  6. Tim R's Gravatar Tim R
    February 20, 2013 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    I voted for Elizabeth Ann Seton, for that is the high school my wife graduated from here in Cincinnati!

  7. February 20, 2013 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    I don’t know which of the two stories confounds me more. Archbishop Romero sacrificed his life, mortally and sacramentally for the good of poor and ostracized people in his nation. Elizabeth Ann Seton established her charitable agencies and instituted her sacramental life because of The 18th and 19th Century Episcopal Church’s lack of formal attention to the sacraments. Using Romero’s analogy, whose work has yielded more wheat because of the sacrificial work they accomplished? I voted for Romero while contemplating more about the themes of sacraments and martyrdom.

    • Cindy Selby's Gravatar Cindy Selby
      February 20, 2013 - 1:22 pm | Permalink

      You mention the 18th and 19th century Episcopal Church’s lack of formal attention to the sacraments….there are still some Episcopal churches in Virginia where Morning Prayer is preferred over Holy Eucharist (gasp!) among the congregants. Good for Elizabeth for having the courage to stand up for the sacraments!

  8. February 20, 2013 - 8:23 am | Permalink

    Toughest choice yet! Recent reading reminds me of the deep prejudice against Roman Catholics… which helps to frame the power of Seton’s faith and her conviction at a time when her friends and family turned against her… And yet Romero stood up against the prevailing power brokers to demand justice for the oppressed people of his country, ultimately losing his life… think I have to go with Romero…

  9. Harmony Kiser's Gravatar Harmony Kiser
    February 20, 2013 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    This is also the toughest choice in Lent Madness I have had to make. I greatly admire Romero, and he certainly would have been my pick. However, as a young five-year-old girl growing up in Oklahoma in a home that did not have a Bible, it was a beloved Catholic Nun who was my Kindergarten teacher in the only kindergarten in town, who told me of God’s love for me and changed my life forever. For that reason, I have to vote for Seton.
    I have loved, and am loving so much about saints, some of whom I had never heard about.

  10. Relling Westfall's Gravatar Relling Westfall
    February 20, 2013 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    I admire Seton enormously and hope to see her again in the future, when I would happily vote for her. In this contest, I must vote for Romero. Having studied Central America in graduate school, the situation he faced is much more vivid to me than that of Seton’s. This description leaves out the prevalent racism in El Salvador. In the 1920’s, during a revolution, the order was to kill anyone with a machete, namely any Indian. When Romero stood up for the poor, he was also standing up for the despised Indians. While Romero may have been from a poor family, he was not Indian. I think that added dimension is important to remember.

  11. Marj's Gravatar Marj
    February 20, 2013 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    I do love Mother Seton. I have a second or third dgree relic of her. A tiny square of cloth that touched her actual relic? Be that as it may. I admire Blessed Romero for his sacrifice and his Liberation theogy for its holy inspiration. A modern martyr.

  12. Laurie Atwater's Gravatar Laurie Atwater
    February 20, 2013 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    My Liberation Theology prof would come back from the dead and give me “that look” were I not to vote for Romero…

  13. Debra Kosche's Gravatar Debra Kosche
    February 20, 2013 - 8:37 am | Permalink

    Tough choices as always. God uses us all. My heart is with education and serving children. That is the reason I chose Seton.

  14. Mary Ellen's Gravatar Mary Ellen
    February 20, 2013 - 8:37 am | Permalink

    How could I vote someone who LEFT the Episcopal church in favor of Roman Catholicism? Go Romero!

    • Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
      February 20, 2013 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

      I think your comment, Mary Ellen, underscores that of Nancy Davidge above. Born and raised in a warm and honorable Roman Catholic family on both sides, I still wonder at the lingering prejudice against Roman Catholics I find in my beloved new spiritual home, the Episcopal Church. The Roman Catholic Church is the people, not the relatively few clergy who have turned away from God in the name of God, as we are all reading about and grieving over these past 15-20 years.

      I think the point is that Mother Seton listened to the call she got from God. We are called in different ways.

      • Marianne's Gravatar Marianne
        February 20, 2013 - 2:23 pm | Permalink

        Elizabeth you are right, and it is unbecoming of Episcopalians because Anglicanism was created to be a bridge between Catholic and Protestant. That said, we have so many Roman Catholics in our church now who have been told by their friends and families the equivalent of, “you know that’s not a REAL church, right??!” I must say among my RC friends I feel my Protestantism and when I am with my Protestant friends (I attend an evangelical seminary, although on the liberal side of E) I feel very Catholic!! I will defend both streams and I believe we Episcopalians are to honor them!

        • Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
          February 20, 2013 - 10:56 pm | Permalink

          Marianne, thank you for that. My husband and I came to the Episcopal church when looking for a church to be married in, and in which to later raise a family. The Episcopal choice was very much considered a bridge between my Catholic heritage, and his Disciples of Christ/Church of Christ heritage. I still feel very Catholic with my husband’s extended family in Missouri, some of whom use the term “Christian” to refer to members of the COC, meaning pointedly that Catholics are not. Hmm, I was 36 and had lived on both Coasts and the Upper Midwest before I heard that usage. I guess it takes all kinds.

  15. Tom Van Brunt's Gravatar Tom Van Brunt
    February 20, 2013 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    Mother Seton as a blow against snotty Episcopalians. Had “Smoky Mary’s” been in Manhattan in those days she might have remained an Epicopalian.

    • christine's Gravatar christine
      February 20, 2013 - 1:44 pm | Permalink

      what are “Smoky Mary’s”?

      • Maggie Feczko's Gravatar Maggie Feczko
        February 20, 2013 - 2:46 pm | Permalink

        I am answering your question about “Smoky Mary’s” because Tom hasn’t replied yet. St. Mary’s Episcopal Church is in mid-town Manhattan and is considered Catholic-Episcopal, and is a heavy user of incense, therefore the “smokey.”

    • Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
      February 20, 2013 - 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Tom, what’s “Smoky Mary’s”?

  16. Anne Wrider's Gravatar Anne Wrider
    February 20, 2013 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    This was so hard! I had to go with Romero, but just barely. Please bring Elizabeth Seton back another time!

    • Dawn Fisher's Gravatar Dawn Fisher
      February 20, 2013 - 8:58 am | Permalink

      Toughest one yet. I went with Oscar Romero, but it was a coin toss.

  17. Susan Fiore's Gravatar Susan Fiore
    February 20, 2013 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    Romero has long been one of my heroes, have to vote for him. I’m still grieving Thomas Tallis’ loss. Truly great sacred music is a direct pipeline to the Divine that never fails us.

    • Laurie's Gravatar Laurie
      February 20, 2013 - 9:14 am | Permalink

      Tallis may not have won the Golden Halo, but his music remains.

    • Sara Weigle's Gravatar Sara Weigle
      February 20, 2013 - 9:18 am | Permalink

      I’m with you on both counts!

    • Maggie Feczko's Gravatar Maggie Feczko
      February 20, 2013 - 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Susan, I can’t agree more about Thomas Tallis. The image of him was not very appealing but if the voters had heard an audiofile of his music, the result may have been different.
      Oscar Romero is a transformational saint and I voted for him without any hesitation although I do admire Elizabeth Ann Seaton and her work. As usual in Lent Madness, it is not about rejecting one saint, it is about which one speaks to you more.

  18. Steve P's Gravatar Steve P
    February 20, 2013 - 8:55 am | Permalink

    Oscar Romero is among my very favorite saints. He is an especially ideal role model for clergy who need to find their voice regarding social justice, but his story speaks to laity as well.

  19. Don Clark's Gravatar Don Clark
    February 20, 2013 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Had to go with Romero, during my travels in Nicaragua, I met people who knew Romero and were continuing his work. Has long been a personal inspiration.

  20. Dorine Houston's Gravatar Dorine Houston
    February 20, 2013 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    Just think! If the Tractarian Movement had occurred a few decades earlier, Elizabeth Ann Seton would not have had to convert to Rome! Because of her work for widows and orphans, work that the new testament specifically calls Christians to do, she has my vote.

  21. Jean Sherrill's Gravatar Jean Sherrill
    February 20, 2013 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    This really was a hard choice and while you can’t take anything away from Romero I had to go with Mother Seton because I was one of those under-privileged young ladies that benefited from the charity of the Catholic schools.

  22. Lauren Stanley's Gravatar Lauren Stanley
    February 20, 2013 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    Laurie Atwater, that is so true for me as well. I’ve got Oscar going all the way to the Finals (where I haven’t made my pick yet), because he is such an inspiration to me: Speak up. Be bold. Fear not. This archbishop gave me courage when I needed it in Sudan. Blessed be this man!

  23. February 20, 2013 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    Mother Seton was raised Episcopalian before becoming Roman Catholic? Isn’t that apostasy?

    Seriously, this is the first matchup for which I’ll have to do some research first.

  24. Marion Phipps's Gravatar Marion Phipps
    February 20, 2013 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    This is my first year participating in Lent madness. I enjoy learning about and/or revisiting the stories of various saints, but so often wish I could vote for both! I find myself thanking God for all the souls who have spent their lives furthering the message of God’s love and grace to all!

  25. February 20, 2013 - 9:04 am | Permalink

    I have friends who are Sisters of Charity, and know their work well. But come on! Oscar Romero was assassinated on the altar… I gotta give the martyr his due.

    ¡Viva Romero! ¡El Rey de la Cuaresma Locura!

  26. February 20, 2013 - 9:07 am | Permalink

    As a teen, I was deeply touched by the love of his people. His argument that we are the church was news to me, and his bravery inspired me. I even admire that his views changed over time – very human. The fact that he looked a lot like my grandfather might play a part too. So, I voted for Romero.

  27. Robin Crigler's Gravatar Robin Crigler
    February 20, 2013 - 9:09 am | Permalink

    Three cheers for another priest–and a Catholic priest as well–speaking out against an unjust government. Oscar Romero, you are lovingly remembered.

  28. Pamela Vollinger's Gravatar Pamela Vollinger
    February 20, 2013 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    It seems that when I finally decided who to vote for after much internal wrestling, I found myself being further conflicted as I went to cast my vote. I must confess here, that it occured to me that to ease this internal conflict of voting for just one saint, Romero or Seton, I could sign in under my husband’s name and vote for the one I did not vote for under my name. That way, I would be able to support both saints. But after further prayer and coffee, I realized that the word of Lent Madness is clear, only one vote per person, per day. Seeking to be faithful to the word, even though it is at times painful I repented of this plan. So after much wrestling and coffee, this Congregational baptized and confirmed, UCC pastor, granddaughter of Italian Roman Catholics, will vote for Romero in memory of a wonderful professor, Letty Russell, and in honor of a seminarian from my church who just had a transformative experience in El Salvador during January break, I will vote for Romero while also giving thanks for Elizabeth Seton.

  29. David Bailey+'s Gravatar David Bailey+
    February 20, 2013 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    Let’s not forget that St. Elizabeth’s MAIDEN NAME was BAYLEY!

  30. Gwin Hanahan's Gravatar Gwin Hanahan
    February 20, 2013 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    Oscar Romero, your boldness and bravery was there when the Holy Spirit called on it.

  31. February 20, 2013 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    A very difficult choice….:-(

  32. Lisa's Gravatar Lisa
    February 20, 2013 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    Had to go with Mother Seton. I went to graduated from the now defunct Elizabeth Seton College in Yonkers. She’s been a favorite for many years.

  33. Carol Sullivan's Gravatar Carol Sullivan
    February 20, 2013 - 9:33 am | Permalink

    A serious toughie! Voting for both is a no-no, but voting for neither would accomplish the same thing. But that is a cop out, something neither of these saints would have stood for! Guess the getting murdered while performing mass will have to tip the scale for me. Oscar fought a more deadly enemy than ostracism.

  34. February 20, 2013 - 9:33 am | Permalink

    Oh, this is so so so hard. I have a fondness for both, particularly for Archbishop Romero. However, I live on a portion of land that was part of Elizabeth’s husband’s family’s estate in the northern corner of New York City, and we have a nearby park which the Setons carved out to preserve natural old-growth forest which is a huge refuge for me. Elizabeth was baptized as an infant in my current Episcopal Parish, and I love the Sisters of Charity. I have to vote for my homegirl.

  35. Mary Lou's Gravatar Mary Lou
    February 20, 2013 - 9:34 am | Permalink

    Another tough choice, but in the end I had to go with Romero, who sacrificed his life for the disadvantaged people in his country.

  36. Claire Woodley's Gravatar Claire Woodley
    February 20, 2013 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    The first parish named for Elizabeth Ann Seton in Shrub Oak New York is sister parish to St. Mary’s Episcopal Mohegan Lake and we run a food pantry together. This Fall we went on Pilgrimage together to all the Seton sites in NYC including St. Andrew’s Staten Island and Trinity New York. The Seton folks were greeted with love like long lost cousins and were overwhelmed by Episcopal hospitality. We had a sweet taste of heaven together just like Elizabeth Ann and John Henry now share together. It may be in fits and starts but God has ways and ways of getting us all on the same track. Votin’ for my sister today!

    • Sean's Gravatar Sean
      February 20, 2013 - 9:09 pm | Permalink

      Hi Claire ,

      It sounds as if ecumenism can be a grassroots enterprise. I really, really love to hear about people and parishes overcoming differences to get on the same track. The rscj’s helped to make ecumenism a part of who I am as a Christian (RC). Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone in my hope for church unity.

      P.S. I wonder if the Lent Madness folks will consider Mother Janet Erskine Stuart, rscj, for next year’s brackets?http://sofie.org/resources/founding-mothers/janet-erskine-stuart

  37. Joyce McGirr's Gravatar Joyce McGirr
    February 20, 2013 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    An amazing story, especially for a woman of her time with absolutely no backing of authority or power other than the intentions of her most generous soul. She was fed in and she fed by the power of the Holy Spirit. God bless her.

  38. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    February 20, 2013 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    I worked for the Sisters of Charity during college, and that seems to have decided me on this one. Even though I did not belong to the church at all then, I learned a deep respect for the Catholic Church and for Christianity in general from that experience, because of some of the people I met there and the things I saw.

    I don’t know much about Oscar Romeo, but I like the way his story is framed here – that he was courageous enough to change in his thinking. I like the broadcast masses, too, and his being “the Voice of the Voiceless” – and I especially love the story of cancelling masses so that everybody would have to attend together. Fantastic idea….

    • Marianne's Gravatar Marianne
      February 20, 2013 - 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Barbara and others who have not seen it, here is the wonderful movie about Romero (called Romero) who is played by Raul Julia. So worth seeing!!


      • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
        February 20, 2013 - 5:51 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for that, Marianne – will look for it; love Raul Julia.

        I searched Netflix and found another film called “Monseñor: The Last Journey of Óscar Romero.” Now it’s in my instant queue….

  39. RoodRunner's Gravatar RoodRunner
    February 20, 2013 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    Worthy opponents, well matched. Elizabeth Seton–first U.S. citizen canonized by RC Church; founded first U.S. religious order for sisters; Seton Hill College (named after, but not founded by, her) just down the road; a lifetime of service to the poor. Former Episcopalian…haven’t figured out if that should count pro or con, though. Oscar Romero–a humble, even meek, priest turned bishop turned Archbishop, who found great courage to face a great evil head-on, in the name of Christ for the sake of the poor. Both seemingly modest Christians who discovered grace in great adversity. I find Romero’s courage just too compelling, though; plus, his feast day and my birthday, one & the same. Vote to Oscar.

  40. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    February 20, 2013 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    I’m for the poor widow who finds joy in charity. Remember that her socialite Episcopalian family rejected for becoming a Roman Catholic. She stood by her faith. All of the candidates are worthy…but I have a soft spot for blessed Elizabeth.

  41. Shawna Atteberry's Gravatar Shawna Atteberry
    February 20, 2013 - 9:51 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who’s having trouble choosing today. I’ve admired both saints for many years. I cried the first time I heard Oscar Romero’s story. But as a person who started out as Southern Baptisit then went to the Church of the Nazarene before coming home to the Episcopal Church, I admire Elizabeth Seton for joining a church that met her spiritual needs. At least I didn’t have to worry about being shunned. I also love Seton’s work in education and believing the poor should be educated too. I think I need more caffeine before I make this decision.

  42. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    February 20, 2013 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    Today’s vote went to Oscar Romero. I, perhaps like many others, have such a profound respect for those who literally give up their lives for what they believe in. Unfortunately it seems to me that the bracket this year is particularly heavy with martyrs making future votes even harder to decide. The SEC or the Bracket Czar are not making it easy this year.

    • Sue's Gravatar Sue
      February 20, 2013 - 10:34 am | Permalink

      My thoughts exactly!!!!!

  43. katherine's Gravatar katherine
    February 20, 2013 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    As an Episcopalian who loves the sacramental liturgy of the modern church…I have to vote for Mother Seaton. I like to think we would have enjoyed worshipping together.

  44. kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
    February 20, 2013 - 10:01 am | Permalink

    You’re not going to go easy on us Roman Catholics are you? What a choice.

    I finally had to go with Elizabeth because — while the difficulty of standing up to hoards of bad guys is pretty much recognized — the difficulty of standing up to your own family and friends is often not.

  45. February 20, 2013 - 10:01 am | Permalink

    I love them both dearly. Archbishop Romero for his powerful witness and his sacrifice, Seton for choosing God over social convention and for her work with women who struggled. I voted for Mother Seton for sentimental reasons:at my elementary school I was taught by Sisters of Charity, who were tough working-class women with deep and powerful faith. I learned a lot from them.

  46. Halo Linda's Gravatar Halo Linda
    February 20, 2013 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    Voted for the Archbishop. I am in a small group studying some of the prophets for Lent. I’m wrestling with saying things that are not comfortable/popular and Archbishop Romero is an inspiration. I’m finding myself voting for the martyrs this year which is not usual for me – need to ponder how God is working in this.

  47. February 20, 2013 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    First – thanks to all the CBs. The bios are thoughtful and I’m learning things that have eluded even mighty Wikipedia. I went with Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez in solidarity with many sisters and brothers in Central and South America. But moving away from Mother Seaton was tough.

  48. Monica's Gravatar Monica
    February 20, 2013 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    Another seriously unfair matchup. But continuing in my “speaking truth to power” theme, I vote for Romero.

  49. Scott Elliott's Gravatar Scott Elliott
    February 20, 2013 - 10:33 am | Permalink

    Oh, my. I hope this one is close. Which is better, stronger: giving your life, or giving your death? Which more heroic? Which more Christly?

    • ssn699's Gravatar ssn699
      February 20, 2013 - 11:24 am | Permalink

      Christly? Is that a word?

      • Constance Santana's Gravatar Constance Santana
        February 20, 2013 - 1:05 pm | Permalink

        Oh good grief! Grammarians can be so relentless in their need to correct small errors. Christlike, then, more like Christ.

        • ssn699's Gravatar ssn699
          February 20, 2013 - 1:41 pm | Permalink

          nope not a grammarian, just asking for the need to know. Sorry so from now on when I don’t know, I will be silent.

        • ssn699's Gravatar ssn699
          February 20, 2013 - 1:46 pm | Permalink

          I prefer syntactician.

          • Dorine Houston's Gravatar Dorine Houston
            February 20, 2013 - 3:47 pm | Permalink

            “Oh good grief! Grammarians can be so relentless in their need to correct small errors. Christlike, then, more like Christ.

            I prefer syntactician.”

            To be absolutely correct, a grammarian is a person who is interested in prescriptive studies, the pedagogical rules of right and wrong. A syntactician is a scientist within the broader field of linguistics who makes no right-wrong judgments, but simply analyzes what *is* regarding sentence structure (grammar). The question as to whether “Christly” is a word falls in neither category. it is one of semantics, or the meaning and use of signifiers, words; therefore, the original poster was complaining about the question posed by a semantician or would-be semantician.

        • ssn699's Gravatar ssn699
          February 20, 2013 - 1:52 pm | Permalink

          and to answer my own question, it IS a word.
          Adj. 1. christly – resembling or showing the spirit of Christ

          • Marianne's Gravatar Marianne
            February 20, 2013 - 2:17 pm | Permalink

            I am happy to have a new adjective in my vocabulary.

          • ssn699's Gravatar ssn699
            February 20, 2013 - 6:30 pm | Permalink

            me too!

  50. Gillian B's Gravatar Gillian B
    February 20, 2013 - 10:35 am | Permalink

    I was an activist in the 80’s against our government’s support for and training of the death squads in Central America. I had a bumper sticker on my 76 Honda Civic that said “El Salvador is Spanish for Vietnam”. Even in those non-church days, Archbishop Romero was a hero of mine. I have to support him!

  51. Betsey's Gravatar Betsey
    February 20, 2013 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    Another agonizing choice. Both so deserving our thoughts of their lives and actions. Thank you, Lent Madness, for that.

    Both gave sacrifices: one lost his life on earth, one was abandoned by her family on earth; there’s no way to choose for me. Maybe my vote reason will be just thinking of a little girl who went to multiple churches to receive the Sacrament.

  52. February 20, 2013 - 10:44 am | Permalink

    Come on my Philly peeps, let’s pull for Seton! Absalom Jones went down so we still need to represent!

  53. JMBRKE's Gravatar JMBRKE
    February 20, 2013 - 10:44 am | Permalink

    Mother Seton has Baltimore roots, a definite plus. (take a look at mothersetonacademy.org). However, Bishop Oscar has always been one of my heroes because he managed to piss off his government and piss off the Pope in the same lifetime, a truly saintly achievement which led to his martyrdom. Backs up the wisdom that no good work goes unpunished. Oscar in a tight one.

  54. Rob's Gravatar Rob
    February 20, 2013 - 10:51 am | Permalink

    Romero is the MAN!

  55. The Holy Fool's Gravatar The Holy Fool
    February 20, 2013 - 10:55 am | Permalink

    Another tough vote today. 2 great stories. I am drawn to Elizabeth Seton. I am learning a lot everyday, and this is fun. However, at 33% ….picking the winners. I don’t think I’ll be playing in any tournament games.

  56. February 20, 2013 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    Wow! What a tough choice! I greatly admire Mother Seton for her courage in the face of bigotry which was great, even in the face of her living the Gospel in a practicle way, and also for her courage as a woman in the face of utter male domination I admire her for the courage to bring the needed actualization of Mother Spirit to the Church. Yet, my vote goes to the martyred Romero, who battled for the suffering poor with the spiritual sword of God’s compassionate truth and justice. His testimony for courageous compassion must have also carried the knowledge that in doing so, his life was certainly at risk, which he was willing to risk for the sake of his people, oppressed and oppressors, in calling them all to the hope of the Gospel.

  57. Joy's Gravatar Joy
    February 20, 2013 - 11:13 am | Permalink

    Another hard choice today. Going in I was sure I would vote for Oscar Romero, and I finally did. I was moved by Elizabeth Seton’s story though and began to think about how her life was a living gospel. Of course, so was Oscar Romero’s. Such wonderful folks to consider and lives to meditate upon as we travel through Lent.

  58. Nancy Mott's Gravatar Nancy Mott
    February 20, 2013 - 11:13 am | Permalink

    Romero was martyred by government forces because he stood with the oppressed. As he said, “When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises.” (8/6/78). — The Church: Called to Repentance, Called to Prophecy

  59. Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
    February 20, 2013 - 11:15 am | Permalink

    Really hard choice, but having chosen a martyr over a musician yesterday, I’m going with Mother Elizabeth, who, like Bishop Romero, reached out to the poor, especially children. (Besides, the bishop was way ahead.)

  60. February 20, 2013 - 11:18 am | Permalink

    Had to vote for Oscar Romero. That said, I’m writing down Bishop Hobart’s name so I can get all judgey if he’s ever up for a place in Lent Madness. Dude. I mean I grew up amidst some animosity to the RC (not as bad as it was back then), but my best friend was/is RC.

  61. February 20, 2013 - 11:20 am | Permalink

    Mother Seton embodies the Christian impulse toward charity, but Saint Romero of the Americas to me embodies the Christian journey of transformation. Together they demonstrate the twin poles of Dom Helder Camara’s now-famous quote: “When I gave bread to the poor, they called me a saint. When I questioned why the poor have no bread, they called me a communist.” With praise for Mother Seton’s ministry, I voted for Saint Romero in hopes I can live up to his example now in the midst of America’s economic oppression.

    • Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
      February 20, 2013 - 12:05 pm | Permalink

      I’d never heard that quote before, but it is excellent! Thanks for such an enlightening comment!

    • Laura G.'s Gravatar Laura G.
      February 20, 2013 - 4:33 pm | Permalink

      That quote helps me decide how to vote. Thanks for sharing.

  62. Cathie Caimano's Gravatar Cathie Caimano
    February 20, 2013 - 11:42 am | Permalink

    This match is entirely unfair! We need some mediocre saints in this line up… I am a little disappointed that no mention was made about the fact that Seton was the first person born in the US to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. I think that is pretty significant, and why I voted for her.

    • February 20, 2013 - 12:18 pm | Permalink

      With a limit of 450 words, I couldn’t find a way to fit it in, but I’m glad you mentioned it!

  63. Allison Askins's Gravatar Allison Askins
    February 20, 2013 - 11:48 am | Permalink

    I’m going with Romero, too. I love stories of transformation. His rise to power appears to have done the opposite of what it so often does — instead of living into the comfort power provides, he stepped outside of it and became that “voice for the voiceless” and used that voice for good. I also love the story about his strategy in getting everyone to come to the cathedral together. Seton surely did some brave things and important work, but I’m more moved by Romero today.

  64. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    February 20, 2013 - 11:50 am | Permalink

    Anyone else notice the many modern martyrs in this year’s LM?

    Anyhow…despite the cute bonnet and despite Meryl Streep’s and Amy Adams’ stunning performances in “Doubt”, I must vote for Romero.

    I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I was pregnant with my son and wondered why I was bringing children into an evil world.

  65. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    February 20, 2013 - 11:53 am | Permalink

    This was actually the easiest choice for me so far. I think my bias from stories from friends of the horrors of parochial school taught by nuns made me discount EA Seton more than I probably should have, but to me Osacar Romero was the more halo-worthy candidate.

  66. Adam Naff's Gravatar Adam Naff
    February 20, 2013 - 11:54 am | Permalink

    Two words: death squads.

  67. Elizabeth Byrd's Gravatar Elizabeth Byrd
    February 20, 2013 - 11:57 am | Permalink

    Awidow with 5 children at 29? Rejected by her family? Romero was brave, etc., but Seton was faithful over a long haul.

  68. Phyllis's Gravatar Phyllis
    February 20, 2013 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Personally the toughest decision yet. Mother Seton’s upbringing and position echo members of my own family at that time, yet she made some different choices, abandoning the security of the world she had known and the support/approval of her family to follow her faith and convictions — a huge witness, especially at that time. And her contribution to the establishment of parochial schools/boarding schools has had enormous impact on education in this country, my own included. BUT… I had a friend who was working as a missionary in El Salvador at the time of Romero’s death. For the couple of years before that I had listened to stories about him, his broadcasts and the couple of occasions she had met him, when we shared long expensive phone calls every few months. When he was murdered, it was as if a friend I had never met had been violently killed and I remember so well the devastating combination of loss, shock, and anger at the sure knowledge that “the government” would never bring his murderers to justice. Then the bombing at the funeral…. Yes, this choice feels so personal this time…. Still not certain.

  69. Lee's Gravatar Lee
    February 20, 2013 - 12:12 pm | Permalink

    San Romero de las Américas ya ES santo. He never finished celebrating the mass at La Divina Providencia, nor was his requiem mass ever finished. His anniversary of martyrdom this year will be Palm Sunday; the 25th anniversary (in 2005) was Maundy Thursday so I see his life of sacrifice closely linked to the Passion. ¡Presente!

  70. February 20, 2013 - 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Hard choice! I went for Elizabeth Seton as an American living abroad… but I hope to see Oscar Romero in the finals!

  71. Andy's Gravatar Andy
    February 20, 2013 - 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I usually vote for the martyrs for they are surely saints. But today I voted for Seton. When I left the Mennonite Church to join the Episcopal Church I faced quite a bit of resistance from family and friends. I’m on my way to becoming a priest and one family member is still unhappy about it. It takes courage to follow God to a new place when your family has always been somewhere else.

  72. Hollinshead T Knight's Gravatar Hollinshead T Knight
    February 20, 2013 - 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Both of these stalwarts have personal family ties, so this is a tough one. Romero was assassinated on my wife’s birthday; but Hobart (who was Seton’s spiritual director as a curate at Trinity Wall Street) was my ancestor (great-great grandfather?). I’m going with Seton.

  73. Peg's Gravatar Peg
    February 20, 2013 - 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Today’s pairing offers two gentle, beautiful spirits who each “followed God to a new place” with tremendous courage, resolve, and creativity. I could vote for either, happily. I’m confident the Archbishop will advance, so I cast a vote for Elizabeth Seton.

  74. February 20, 2013 - 12:31 pm | Permalink

    There is no way I would vote for ANYONE over Oscar Romero!!!! Especially not for someone who left the Anglican fold. Done!

  75. February 20, 2013 - 12:31 pm | Permalink

    My son will throttle me if he ever learns I voted for Mother Seton rather than the Archbishop, but I’m not going to tell him…I agree with all that this was one was the hardest decision we’ve encountered thus far, and I made my choice only because I could identify with her struggles. I like to think I’d be strong enough to become a martyr, but, what Mother Seton accomplished by daily courage and toil for others is what continues to do great works of charity throughout the communities of our own country. Both saints inspire me to work harder for the poor and downtrodden, so maybe I chose her simply because I identify with her — we’re both women…

  76. Rob's Gravatar Rob
    February 20, 2013 - 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Had to go with Romero. Fighter for social justice, martyr and the movie was good!
    Don’t tell my wife, she counts St. Elizabeth among her patron saints! Sorry Beth.

  77. Johannas Jordan's Gravatar Johannas Jordan
    February 20, 2013 - 12:41 pm | Permalink

    As an educator, a single mother, a sometimes poor women, a member of an order (not hers), and a worker for the rights of the oppressed I strongly identify with Mother Seton. However, unlike her I have remained with the church of my birth, the Episcopal Church, and it may be if the Episcopal Church of her time had offered communion as we do now, she might still be an Episcopalian. I know if I could not receive at least weekly, I might have left too.
    Both of these saints inspire me and while I am not in any sense of their caliber, my strong identification with Mother Seton prompts me to cast my vote for her.

    • Dorine Houston's Gravatar Dorine Houston
      February 20, 2013 - 3:22 pm | Permalink

      Seton’s desire to receive communion regularly resonates with me. I went to the Episcopal church, to an Anglo-Catholic parish with daily communion, from a tradition where some congregations had monthly communion. and others only bimonthly. Receiving communion is one of the most worshipful things we can do!

  78. Tarheel's Gravatar Tarheel
    February 20, 2013 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

    At last several connections including a basket ball connection! Seton Hall University, named for Mother Seton, frequently puts a decent team on the hardwood. This year is not a good example of their normal level of play. The “Hall” also produces some fine students. Add in EA Seton’s devotion to children and education along with a maiden name of Bayley, Mother Seton has my vote

  79. Laura Ray's Gravatar Laura Ray
    February 20, 2013 - 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Go for Educator Elizabeth Ann Seaton. Though I was kicked out of St. Thomas More, I think Seaton would have loved me. Sorry Nun so-so-so for calling you an SOB. Who has more boldness or bravery? An educator hands down.

  80. Rich's Gravatar Rich
    February 20, 2013 - 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I had to go with Mother Seton – I thought going into this that Bishop Romero would be a slam dunk for me, but it became a question of what was the stronger force – being excommunicated from one’s entire life for the sake of faith, and working for decades against historical societal norms versus facing a small faction that controlled through violence because they knew that they were violating fundamental human dignity to control society. I know Bishop Romero is going to win, but maybe Mother Seaton will get hot from the three point line!

  81. Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
    February 20, 2013 - 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I am so glad to be part of the Church – and Lent Madness – where I am only one of many who strive to follow Jesus and to be inspired and motivated by the many saints who have given us such fine examples of how to live and behave in many circumstances. Thank you all for your comments which I read and learn from.
    I am loving Lent Madness!

  82. Laura Ray's Gravatar Laura Ray
    February 20, 2013 - 12:58 pm | Permalink

    And I spelled her name wrong, sigh. Sorry Elizabeth Ann Seton.

  83. Cindy Selby's Gravatar Cindy Selby
    February 20, 2013 - 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Oscar Romero is certainly worthy of the lead he currently carries in this contest, but I had to vote for Mother Seton because I used to be a single mother and I share her heart for ministry to poor, single women. And because my husband has a primary relic of Elizabeth Seton.

  84. Constance Santana's Gravatar Constance Santana
    February 20, 2013 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Having been raised by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, I learned the story of Elizabeth Ann Seton very early on. I grew up to be a social worker and have always thought of her as one of America’s first “social workers”. As much as I revere the awe inspiring witness of Oscar Romero and what he did for his people, I had to vote for one of my earliest role models.

  85. Barbara Traxler's Gravatar Barbara Traxler
    February 20, 2013 - 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Oscar but this was the hardest vote yet. The ladies who dedicate their lives to the care of God’s children are an inspiration, but Oscar’s voice for the poor resonated.

  86. Alan Medsker's Gravatar Alan Medsker
    February 20, 2013 - 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Certainly two worthy contestants! I’m afraid I’m just a little biased away from Mother Seaton because I’m just not quite 100% sure that parochial schools are always a good thing. So, while both are worth examples for all of us, I will go with the Archbishop.

  87. christine's Gravatar christine
    February 20, 2013 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    How can you not vote for a single, independent, strong woman who did so much good for the poor. So did Oscar, but in Elizabeth’s time she suffered great hardship being a woman.
    Elizabeth did what was needed at that time and accomplished so much for others.

  88. February 20, 2013 - 1:39 pm | Permalink

    From your site, I thought you might enjoy seeing a music video that we just produced on Oscar Romero.  It is part of a new CD release. The singer is a deacon, Michael Glen Bell, and the film maker is Owen Thomas. The Project is the subject of a wonderful article in Canada’s Catholic Register http://www.catholicregister.org/arts/movie-news/item/15749-video-brings-awful-memories-flooding-back

    Go to TheMartyrsProject.com to view the video. Feel free to use it on your site, review the album or video, or blog about The Project.  If you do, let us know so we can put a link on ours. If you are interested in a story on The Project, please get back to us. We are located in Indianapolis. You can follow us on Twitter @martyrsproject. 

  89. Sheila Wheltle's Gravatar Sheila Wheltle
    February 20, 2013 - 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I’m a Mount Mom–one daughter graduated from and another a freshman at Mt. St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD. We frequently visit the Shrine and the Grotto near the campus. If it was anyone else, I would have voted for Oscar Romero but Mother Seton got my vote today!

  90. Sheila Wheltle's Gravatar Sheila Wheltle
    February 20, 2013 - 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Had to sign up for emails–gave up Facebook for Lent.

  91. Marianne's Gravatar Marianne
    February 20, 2013 - 2:11 pm | Permalink

    “He was conservative, unlikely to make waves or to upset the status quo. Because of this reputation, in 1977, he was elevated to archbishop of San Salvador, the highest church office in the country.” Then, his heart was changed. He became a nightmare to the established church and a blessing to the people. When I was in Mexico last Fall, I stayed with nuns and we watched the movie about his life together. (One of them was one of the nuns in the film!) I saw through their eyes how people like Oscar Romero represent the hope of the church and Emmanuel, God being with them and among them. I am voting for Oscar for those Sisters of Guadalupe, whose ministry to people like me is “creating hearts for the poor,” and to whom Oscar Romero is a beacon.

  92. Nancy Evans's Gravatar Nancy Evans
    February 20, 2013 - 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I went with Liz!!! I may be a Episcopalian now but came from UP background. I am a kindred spirit to someone who helps widow and orphans. Like we are told to do!! Besides I cannot abide how she was treated by so called Episcopalian Christians!!
    It seems to me that the RC’s were better at being Christ like than we were.

    I commend the Archbishop for his sacrifice! I think he has his golden halo already so I still like Liz!!

  93. Emmetri Monica Beane's Gravatar Emmetri Monica Beane
    February 20, 2013 - 2:27 pm | Permalink

    This was a difficult choice for me to make. When I was in Junior High School, I led a group that did service projects to clean and beautify Mother Seton park in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. That was how I first learned of Mother Seton. In my 30s, I had a chance meeting with a member of the Sisters of Charity that has stayed with me. Still, in the end, I voted for Oscar Romero as an icon of advocacy for those who have no voice. It was a choice of core values over emotional resonance.

  94. February 20, 2013 - 2:27 pm | Permalink

    With the liturgical renewal of the mid-20th century. Elizabeth Seton would have not “swum the Tiber” to get the sacraments of the Church. I value her witness in the time that she lived. However, having visited El Salvador and especially the place where Abp. Romero was killed, I have to vote for him.

  95. February 20, 2013 - 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes I feel like words are trapped up in my body and I can’t get them out. It is hard to explain the feelings I have for the suffering of the people of El Salvador, one just has to go there and see for themselves the cruelty of the war that, financed by the United States, was waged against the people of El Salvador by 14 families that held 85% of all the wealth in the country. I voted for Msgr. Romero. “Si me matan, resucitaré en el pueblo salvadoreño.” Mother Seaton, the first American Saint to be canonized the RC church, was a great woman – no offense.

  96. February 20, 2013 - 2:50 pm | Permalink

    “Smoky Mary’s” is an Anglo-Catholic church in NYC. It’s official name is St. Mary the Virgin. Very high episcopal church. Lots of bells and incense, otherwise known as smells and bells.

    I had to go with Mother Seton on this one. I love Oscar Romero’s witness, but 5 children, widowed, poor, rejected by her family, the standing of women in this period and her love of the Eucharist tipped the scale for me.

  97. JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
    February 20, 2013 - 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Seton hugely admirable. Voting Romero today for his refusal to abide by a status quo that was keeping him quite comfortably, and his hugely effective witness to transformation of self and society.

  98. Lynda's Gravatar Lynda
    February 20, 2013 - 3:28 pm | Permalink

    I found this round to be by far the toughest yet! However, my vote went to Seton. To be a single mother of no less than 5 children and to help others in their need is a remarkable feat. Romero also is exceptional, we all know how hard it is to swim against the tide. Well done guys for a challenging match up and I am learning so much about these wonderful men and women of faith.

  99. Joyce Edmondson's Gravatar Joyce Edmondson
    February 20, 2013 - 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Elizabeth Setan because I could follow her example better, but I really believe the Lord doesn’t make these distinctions! The modern saints have been named because we can follow their example, like St. Therese of the Child Jesus, and others.

  100. Curt Eidem's Gravatar Curt Eidem
    February 20, 2013 - 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I had to vote for EAS the parish down the streat from my congregation is named after her.

  101. Marie's Gravatar Marie
    February 20, 2013 - 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe that I didn’t vote for the woman, but liberation theology is what brought this former-fundie-turned-atheist back into the fold. Romero it is.

  102. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    February 20, 2013 - 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps Elizabeth Ann Seton could have returned to New York, remarried and raised her family in more comfortable circumstances. Instead, she supported her children by opening boarding schools and orphanages and establishing the Sisters of Charity. Her work continues nearly 200 years after her death, as noted above by other LM comments.
    I thought I’d vote for Bishop Romero, but it occurred to me that there is another kind of sacrifice: a living sacrifice. So, I’m voting for Mother Seton.
    Both of these saints (and perhaps all saints) created a “disturbance in the force” by countering authority or tradition.

  103. Sarah Lawton's Gravatar Sarah Lawton
    February 20, 2013 - 4:18 pm | Permalink

    I cast my vote for San Oscar Romero de las Americas. It’s been almost 30 years since my first protest against military aid in El Salvador—in 1984, in college. I was formed in the El Salvador solidarity movement. El Salvador and the Salvadoran community here in the U.S.A. have a piece of my heart, and he is their saint, and mine.

    The Jesuit priest who is said to have “turned” Archbishop Romero’s heart to the people was Padre Rutilio Grande, a friend from seminary. Padre Rutilio served the parish of Aguilares, a sugar cane cultivation area north of the capital city, where most of the resident farmworkers (campesinos) were desperately poor. He organized “base Christian communities,” where laypeople were trained to read and study the Gospel, to evangelize, and to serve the people. Padre Rutilio’s subversive message, in the eyes of the landowners and military, was to preach the dignity of every human being. On March 12, 1977, Padre Rutilio was murdered by machine gun fire, along with campesinos Manuel Solorzano, 72, and Nelson Rutilio Lemus, 16, who happened to be riding in the truck with him. It was these deaths that were the reason for the archbishop’s declaration of a single mass. From that day forward, Romero became the country’s most vocal advocate for the poor.

    The Catholic Radio broadcasts were of extreme importance, because Romero’s was the only uncensored voice for the people in the country. On the radio, he spoke out against inequality, corruption, and above all, violence. And he read out the names, the many, many names, of those who were missing (“disappeared”), demanding the military and government answer for them. People lined up outside the archdiocesan offices to bring their stories to him. Everyone listened to those broadcasts; they reached into the most remote villages.

    About the persecution of the church—dozens of priests and nuns killed, and more to come after his death, including the four American church workers and the six Jesuit priests—Romero said: “While it is clear that our Church has been the victim of persecution during the last three years …. [it] comes about because of the Church’s defense of the poor, for assuming the destiny of the poor.” And: “A church that suffers no persecution but enjoys the privileges and support of the things of the earth – beware! – is not the true church of Jesus Christ.”

    He expected to be martyred. A few weeks before his death, he told a reporter: “…if they succeed in killing me, I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish.”

    And another time: “I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me I will rise again in the people of El Salvador.”

    On the day before they murdered him, March 23, 1980, Oscar Romero preached a sermon in the cathedral that concluded with a direct appeal to the soldiers:

    “Brothers, you came from our own people. You are killing your own brother peasants when any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God which says, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God …. In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you, in the name of God: Stop the repression.”

    Oscar Romero, Presente!

    • Earl Higgins's Gravatar Earl Higgins
      February 20, 2013 - 10:56 pm | Permalink

      The similarities between Oscar Romero and Thomas Becket at are striking: both were the leading archbishop of their countries; both ran up against the power of the rulers; both were assassinated by thugs working for the threatened political power. Romero, even more than Becket, was a witness to the message of Jesus. Why the Roman church has taken so long to declare him a saint is inexcusable. He should be added to the Litany of the Saints at once.
      Sancte Oscar Romeroensis, ora pro nobis!

  104. Patty Reichert's Gravatar Patty Reichert
    February 20, 2013 - 4:43 pm | Permalink

    THis is one of the easiest choicest I have had to make so far. Near my home where I grew up was a place called Seton Hall Named after Elizabeth. This place took care of homeless children. Some of these children went to school with me. I always thought it was such a wonderful place and have fond memories of my dear childhood friends from Seton Hall.

  105. Cornelia+'s Gravatar Cornelia+
    February 20, 2013 - 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Very tough choice, I agree. But I have to go with Mother Seton, who was brought to her knees as an impoverished widow and somehow still found the strength in the Spirit to minister not just to her own family but to dozens of poor widows and orphans, inspiring countless others to carry on the work of education and uplifting the poor and disadvantaged. Here, in our own country. She gets my vote.

  106. Margret's Gravatar Margret
    February 20, 2013 - 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Voting for Elizabeth because of her commitment to girl’s education at a time when it was not always the norm. This is a battle we are still fighting worldwide – educating girls and women to life them out of poverty and empower communities. Romero used his authority and power as Archbishop in meaningful and wonderful ways that continue to inspire, but Seton was a woman who had no power and created her own authority.

    • February 20, 2013 - 8:51 pm | Permalink

      Well said! Both Romero and Seton were remarkable, but for the reasons you stated so well — “a woman who had no power and created her own authority” — Seton got my vote.

  107. Fairlee's Gravatar Fairlee
    February 20, 2013 - 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Again, I wanted to vote for both of them-Romero because he is an obvious hero, and Seton because I’m a retired RN and worked in Seton Hospital when I lived in Austin, Texas, as a young woman. It was a Catholic hospital and I’m sure it was named after her.

  108. Karr Tyson's Gravatar Karr Tyson
    February 20, 2013 - 5:45 pm | Permalink

    This was a toss up for me. I am a product of the Roman Catholic School system. The liturgy of the Catholic Church drew me to TEC. However. I’m a Spanish teacher and just led a discussion about Romero on Monday. My vote for Romero.

  109. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    February 20, 2013 - 6:20 pm | Permalink

    No disrespect to Oscar Romero, who is indeed inspirational, I voted for Elizabeth because once her husband died, society deemed her unworthy. It feels to me like we are deeming her unworthy today, just because her calling didn’t kill her. She is again the underdog.

  110. Colleen's Gravatar Colleen
    February 20, 2013 - 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Tough choice but had to give my support to Elizabeth Ann Seton!

  111. Cheribum's Gravatar Cheribum
    February 20, 2013 - 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Really moved by the story of the returning destitute Episcopalian turned away by her socialite friends. She was just hoping that her adopted Italian family was Filcchi rich.

    • Alice's Gravatar Alice
      February 20, 2013 - 7:52 pm | Permalink

      Well – that is about snarky enough – really too bad!

    • kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
      February 20, 2013 - 8:12 pm | Permalink

      I really think this was a clever pun, and don’t sense any intention to be hurtful on the part of the writer.

  112. Noel Bailey's Gravatar Noel Bailey
    February 20, 2013 - 8:18 pm | Permalink

    I’ll probably be accused of being a “grammatical” (see previous comments) but I wonder how Seton could have been “born into a devout Episcopal family” before there was an Episcopal Church. “Anglican” or “Church of England” would seem to make more sense. Don’t mean to be picky – I am a loyal LM fan, thanks!

  113. Noel Bailey's Gravatar Noel Bailey
    February 20, 2013 - 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Sorry – that’s “grammarian”.

  114. J A Reyes's Gravatar J A Reyes
    February 20, 2013 - 9:45 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Elizabeth Anne Seaton for sentimental reasons, since I was born in a Sisters of Charity hospital in New York and educated in a high school and a college run by the Sisters. Widows and orphans in the 18th and early 19th century had it hard because there weren’t a lot of charitable organizations that took care of them. There were workhouses in America for those people.

  115. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    February 20, 2013 - 9:54 pm | Permalink

    I’ve pondered this all day and I know Archbishop Romero will most likely win. His witness and martyrdom is historic and I deeply admire him. However, I voted for the martyr and front runner yesterday. Sister Elizabeth, this gentle, faithful woman created something that has touched millions of people through the years, a small beginning that has had exponential impact through the Sisters of Charity. My vote goes to the underdog today!

  116. February 20, 2013 - 10:48 pm | Permalink

    In my youth I worked for President Napoleon Duarte, first when he was in the Junta and later as President. I was basically a speech writer and lobbyist for Napo up in DC while the turmoil was occurring in ES. I vividly remember the death of Romero, and a year or so later the Nuns killed by death squads.

    I was one that believed both that Romero was a true martyr and that Duarte really was trying to get control of the death squads… particularly Arena backed back-channel funded ones. He was thwarted every step of the way by his own military and by the provocations of the FMLN which put him in an impossible and untenable “middle.”

    I asked Napo about Romero… who he knew pretty well. His death was a singular motivating experience for Napo and he said as much in his biography.

    For what its worth… Romero’s death lead to a narrative that has rescued central america from much of the corruption and extremism. If they could now deal with the narco terrorist, they might have a chance!

  117. February 20, 2013 - 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Elizabeth Ann Seton was in my 4th grade history book (Catholic school), and was always special to me as one of the few *American* saints. And I’ve been to her shrine in Emmetsburg, which was quite lovely.

    But oh, the RC church today so desperately needs bishops and archbishops who will “use[ their ]authority and power . . . to throw the considerable weight of the church behind the oppressed and the victimized” instead of behind the lawyers and the reputation managers. My vote today is a prayer. Abp Romero, intercede for us.

  118. Alec Clement's Gravatar Alec Clement
    February 20, 2013 - 11:36 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Romero–something very stark and forbidding about this kind of sacrifice–sends chills up and down my spine

  119. Viola's Gravatar Viola
    February 20, 2013 - 11:44 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Mother Seaton for sentimental reasons. A devout Catholic thought we named our daughter after her, and thus I became aware of her. Christian work is mostly done in everyday happenings without fanfare. Oscar Romero was brave and certainly worthy of sainthood, but sentiment won.

  120. DPH's Gravatar DPH
    February 21, 2013 - 12:27 am | Permalink

    Such a tough vote. I’m inspired by both lives. True religion and undefiled. Greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life. O that my life would speak so clearly!

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