Mount Saint Vincent Celebrates Shared Legacy as Sisters of Charity of New York Mark 200th Anniversary
Riverdale, N.Y. – At the College of Mount Saint Vincent, service is an essential part of student life, rooted in the charism of its founders, the Sisters of Charity of New York. As the Sisters mark their 200th anniversary in founder Elizabeth Ann Seton’s native city, Mount Saint Vincent is celebrating the Sisters’ legacy in the mission and life of the College.
“Our history in education, which is integral to our mission, has provided students with strong values and skills necessary for their future,” said Sister Jane Iannucelli, S.C., president of the Sisters of Charity of New York.
Established in 1847 as the Academy of Mount Saint Vincent, an institution for higher learning for women, the College became a degree-granting institution in 1911, and co-educational in 1974. “Since our inception, we have lived the mission the Sisters of Charity entrusted to us,” said Mount President Charles L. Flynn, Jr.
The College is dedicated to the development of the whole person, an education in the liberal arts that extends beyond the classroom. That mission is encapsulated in the College motto, “Teach me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge.” Incoming students are inducted into the Mount’s culture beginning with new student orientation. In their First Year Experience (FYE) course, they explore the relationship between their liberal arts courses, their career aspirations, and service. In that course, each student completes a service project centering on community outreach, youth mentoring, or social justice. The course introduces the concept of vocation: whatever one’s career path, a profession can be personally fulfilling and in service to others.
The Seton Service and Leadership Program welcomes exceptional scholars interested in joining a like-minded community of peers. Participants serve together on various projects addressing a range of social challenges, from homelessness to poverty to human trafficking. Seton scholars are represented in all majors—from accounting to biochemistry—and serve in an astounding array of service roles.
The College, grounded in the Catholic tradition, is deeply committed to ecumenism. Students, faculty, and staff of all faiths—and of no faith—are equally welcome. That openness is a fundamental College commitment, which helps make spiritual and faith-based discussions lively and compelling. In many cases, Seton Scholars work closely with the Sisters of Charity.
Mount roommates Katelyn Wentworth ‘17 and Stephanie Rodway ‘17 will soon graduate from the Mount. They are proud Associates of the Sisters of Charity of New York. It all began over lunch late last summer with Sister Mary Lou McGrath, S.C. “We used to meet with her now and again, so this was not uncommon,” said Ms. Wentworth. “But this time, instead of pulling out a sandwich, she pulled out two red binders and said that she’d seen the charism of service in us. She asked if we wanted to join the Sisters as Associates.” Through the Associates Program, the Sisters of Charity of New York encourage women and men of all backgrounds to share their passion for service and social justice by joining the Sisters in their mission.
At the time she became an Associate, Ms. Wentworth was deeply involved in the Mount’s Office of Campus Ministry. “The people there felt like family,” she said. “[Associate Director of Campus Ministry] Kathryn O’Loughlin was basically a life mentor.” Ms. O’Loughlin is also an Associate.
During her time at the Mount, Ms. Wentworth assisted in the Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts at St. Bernard Parish (SBP) in New Orleans, embarked on mission trips to Novillero, Ixtahuacan and Nahuala, Guatemala, and volunteered for POTS (Part of the Solution), a Bronx-based nonprofit committed to alleviating poverty. “Regardless of the volunteer work, I always felt the same after: raw,” Ms. Wentworth said. “Each experience brought me back into focus and helped me better understand myself and what I felt was important.”
A native of Manchester, N.H., Ms. Wentworth and an Honors student who will soon receive her B.S. in Nursing, recently participated in the Mount’s seventh annual Student Research and Service Symposium, which recognizes original undergraduate research and service initiatives. In addition to sharing her service experiences, Ms. Wentworth presented her research titled “Reactions of Nursing Students When Faced with Violations of the ANA Code of Ethics at the Hands of Nurse Educators.”
A biology major and an Honors student, Ms. Rodway presented her research titled “Restoration of Function in Cases of Paralysis through the Application of Brain Machine Interfaces.” Ms. Rodway said being an Associate is an intensely gratifying experience. “The Sisters are an amazing group of people, equipped with an innate desire to serve and love others,” she said. “To be part of something so special is humbling.”
This past semester, Ms. Rodway rose at dawn to prepare breakfast for Sisters living in The New Jewish Home’s Kittay House location in the Bronx. “I loved having the opportunity to engage with the Sisters and hear their stories,” Ms. Rodway said. Far from her hometown of Bridgewater, Mass., Ms. Rodway said she enjoyed New York City’s diversity and vast opportunities for service. “Being [in New York City] changed me for the better,” Ms. Rodway said. In addition to working with POTS, Ms. Rodway traveled twice to Philadelphia to volunteer at St. Francis Inn, a Franciscan community ministering to the poor and homeless. “Both times were incredibly uplifting and really showed me the power of love and service.”
Mount Saint Vincent’s commitment to both scholarly inquiry and service touches every dimension of the College’s life. The Mount recently became home to the Margaret F. Grace Lecture, an endowed event focused on the theme “Where Do I Find Hope?” The Lecture was established in 2001 by the late Margaret F. Grace, a Catholic philanthropist who founded the Cardinal Suenens Center at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, to carry out the vision and priorities of the Second Vatican Council. In 2015, the Grace family chose the Mount to be the lecture series’ new home.
The Mount’s first Margaret F. Grace Lecture was a symposium on Dorothy Day, a visionary advocate for social justice, humility, and personal responsibility. The 2017 lecture took place on April 4. Titled “To Kill or Not to Kill: Just War or Nonviolence?” the event featured a discussion on whether there can be “just war” or if lasting peace can ever truly be achieved.
“The College’s intellectual life and commitment of service go hand-in-hand,” President Flynn said. “Like the Sisters of 150 years ago and the Sisters of today, we hold three fundamental values: a recognition of our common humanity, a commitment to human dignity, and a full appreciation of our obligations to each other. These are values of equality, dignity, and service. We believe they apply to every person, everywhere, always. This is the legacy of the Sisters of Charity at the College.”
About the College of Mount Saint Vincent
The College of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of professional accomplishment, service, and leadership in the 21st century.