President’s daughter sees connections to Mother Seton in her life’s journey

Nichole S. Gehr

Luci Baines Johnson receives asked at times why she identifies so substantially with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, but, she stated, that’s the completely wrong issue.

“The query for me is not why I detect with Elizabeth Ann Seton, but how on earth else could I not?” she reported. “She resonates with me.”

During a distinguished daily life that has mostly been in the public eye, Johnson has recognized as numerous factors. She’s the youngest daughter of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. She joined the Catholic Church as a teenager. She’s a spouse and mother. She’s a productive businesswoman and philanthropist.

And now she’s leading a fundraising campaign for the Nationwide Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

The shrine is in the midst of a yearlong commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the loss of life of Mother Seton, the to start with indigenous-born American saint. Among the pursuits will be “The Seton Household Treasures,” an exhibit of hardly ever noticed Seton artifacts opening July 1.

The shrine also has released “Seeker to Saint,” a sequence of month-to-month video clips analyzing facets of Seton’s lifetime and spirituality. The 1st online video is titled “I Am a Mother” and explores the appreciate and devotion that this saint had for her 5 children.

As chairwoman of the shrine’s National Leaders Council, Johnson is aiding to raise dollars that will fund a renovated and expanded museum, an growth of the shrine’s Seeds of Hope application of retreats for the poor and other programs.

Johnson was questioned to get concerned after many years of functioning with the Daughters of Charity, a spiritual get that traces its roots again to Mother Seton.

It was a pure suit. She has experienced triumph and tragedy, pleasure and heartbreak — similar in some degree to the saint’s genuine-lifetime experiences.

Via it all, she claimed, she has relied on her deep faith and a devotion to Mom Seton.

“We all want any person to detect with,” Johnson said. “We all want to have our faith have a extra personal link for us.”

Raised Episcopalian, Elizabeth Ann Seton became a Catholic in 1805 to the surprise and even ire of her prolonged household.

Johnson’s father was a member of the Disciples of Christ and her mom was an Episcopalian, the church that Luci Baines Johnson was in the end elevated in. “My father was the most ecumenical person I ever realized,” she claimed. “He would always say, ‘You realize, when you are in my posture, you have to have all the assist you can get.’”

In Johnson’s teens, she commenced wanting for something much more from her faith, which led her to Catholicism. Her dad and mom supported her research but only questioned that she hold out until eventually adulthood to make the conclusion. She turned a Catholic when she turned 18.

Mother Seton experienced 5 children right before dropping her partner to tuberculosis, leaving her to increase the little ones on her own.

Johnson had four small children just before a distressing divorce and annulment ended her initially marriage.

“Divorce and demise are not the identical — I would hardly ever claim they are,” she mentioned. “But divorce is a demise of one thing that you thought in and enjoy and preferred to very last permanently and at any time. And it didn’t.

“It grieved to me to the main of my existence. And so, I went to my religion, which, I feel, tons of us do when instances are scary and worrisome and regarding.”

In 1984, 5 decades right after the close of her marriage, Johnson wed businessman Ian Turpin, and they remain happily married today. “If you talk to me how lengthy we’ve been married, I’ll usually explain to you the exact very same thing I have claimed for the last 37 decades: not prolonged enough.”

The term entrepreneur was not in use in the early 1800s, but Johnson likes to assume of Mother Seton as a single. As the foundress of a faculty and then an buy of nuns — the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s — in Emmitsburg, “she was in essence the founder of a get started-up,” Johnson reported.

In advance of that, she aided her spouse, Will, with the loved ones import small business as it went by personal bankruptcy.

Given that Johnson and Turpin were being married, they have thrived on boosting their family with each other, as perfectly as the Johnson family’s company interests and lively roles as philanthropists. In addition, they founded a commence-up of their own, BusinesSuites, a shared workplace business enterprise company that became just one of the biggest in the country ahead of it was offered.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she said, they professional turbulence in their organization and moved the loved ones again to Texas from Canada the place they experienced been living.

“The likelihood that it’s possible you will drop all the things your relatives has designed over many yrs was very horrifying,” she reported, just as it was for Mom Seton.

Johnson was initial exposed to the shrine in Emmitsburg when as a teen, she dated a younger gentleman at nearby Mount St. Mary’s University. She also remembers the enjoyment of Mom Seton being the initially indigenous-born American to be beatified in 1963 and then canonized in 1975.

“Getting your very own American-born saint was a significant offer,” she explained. “It was an thrilling issue, specially when you believed about all of the discrimination that experienced existed in the United States when John Fitzgerald Kennedy ran for the presidency.

“It’s tricky to measure what that intended to so numerous younger women who have been customers of the Catholic Church or interested in the Catholic Church.”

About the a long time, Johnson made close associations with the Sisters and Daughters of Charity, who trace their lineage back to Mom Seton and remain committed to serving individuals in require.

“Mother Seton tried quite tough to help us,” Johnson reported. “I feel, definitely, what’s primarily essential is for us to glance at how important she felt that people today on the margins have been and how we will need to appreciate them.”

The saint stays a unifying pressure in the church, she reported.

“I am a Roman Catholic change, and I’m on the extra liberal facet of the political spectrum,” she explained. “As an lively human being in community life, I have political variances with some of my fellow Individuals.

“But I feel that respect and duty and caring about folks residing on the margins is some thing people today from each and every political spectrum can embrace. I also believe it is in supplying that we really get and a goal pushed lifestyle is life’s best joy.”

“I’m just on the lookout to do my aspect to assist,” she extra, “and Mother Seton is a great help.”

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