Already alone in a foreign country and away from family, the next decade proved to be one of even more massive life changes for Maria. She learned of Elizabeth Belwood, a young orphan from Manchester, England in need of a home. Elizabeth, nicknamed “Bessie,” lost her parents not long after she was born in 1882. Maria adopted the young girl, who affectionately called her “Auntie.” Since her arrival in Montreal, Maria made more contacts with Catholics and started to pray at a local Catholic Church. In a 1920 recollection of her conversion, Maria wrote that she confided in a friend, “I wish I had been born and brought up a Catholic,” to which her friend, a recent convert to Catholicism, replied, “well, the next best thing is to become one.” A Sacred Heart nun introduced Maria to Rev. John Connolly, a Jesuit priest who happened to be the brother of Sisters of Charity Mary Clare and Mary Anne Connolly. Rev. Connolly performed a double baptism on Maria and Bessie on January 7, 1891, the day after Epiphany.
Bessie Belwood -10 years old – Thursday, Corpus Christi, 1892. Began “First Friday” Communion and never missed one throughout her life. S. Elizabeth Seton is second from the right in the photograph. This photograph is from a historical account of the life of Sister Maria Felicitas Gee that was transferred to the archives after Sister Elizabeth Seton Belwood died.