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Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth

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(Mother-house at Convent Station, near Morristown, New Jersey).

A community founded at Newark, in 1859, by Mother Mary Xavier Mehegan, who for twelve years previously had been a member of the Sisters of Charity, of St. Vincent de Paul in New York. In 1858 Bishop Bayley, of Newark, applied to the superior at Mount Saint Vincent's, New York, for sisters to form a separate mother-house in his diocese. Sister Mary Xavier, who was in charge of St. Mary's, Newark, was at his request appointed superior of the new foundation, with Sister Mary Catherine Nevin assistant. The habit and the constitutions of the Sisters of Charity in New York were retained. On 29 September, 1859, the new community was formally opened in St. Mary's, Newark, the first superior general being the Reverend Bernard J. McQuaid, later Bishop of Rochester, New York. In less than a year the first Catholic hospital in New Jersey was opened at St. Mary's, Newark. On 2 July, 1860, the mother-house was removed to the old Chegaray mansion at Madison, which had recently been vacated by Seton Hall College. An academy was opened the same year and named St. Elizabeth's, in honour of Mother Elizabeth Seton, the foundress of the American Sisters of Charity. Bishop Bayley had strongly advocated a change in the head-dress of the sisters. This, however, was not carried into effect until 1874, when the black cap adopted by Mother Seton was replaced by a white one with a black veil. To accommodate the rapidly growing community the mother-house and academy were removed in 1880 to Convent Station, near Morristown.

The principal work of the sisters is teaching, but they also labour for the poor and the sick in various charitable institutions . According to the report for 1907, there are 1073 of these sisters in the Dioceses of Newark, Trenton, and Hartford, and the Archdioceses of New York and Boston. They have one college, six academies, one preparatory school for small boys, sixty-seven parochial schools with 40,100 pupils, five orphanages, five hospitals, one home for incurables, one home for the aged, one foundling asylum , and two day nurseries. Their principal educational centre is at Convent Station, where there are schools of primary, grammar, high school, and college grades. The college course was founded in 1899 for the higher education of women. Students are admitted by examination or by certificates from approved academies or high schools. The courses of study are partially elective and lead to the degrees of B.A. and M.A. In 1907 the college library contained 20,000 volumes. The college has no endowment. In connection with the college department is a School of Pedagogy requiring two years of college work for admission. The High School, the School of Pedagogy, and the College are registered by the New Jersey State Board of Education and by the Regents of the University of the State of New York. At the mother-house of the community is a normal training school for the young sisters.

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