A Life Inspired by Mother Cabrini
~Fairfield County Catholic
When Lucille Souza was a high school freshman in Burbank, California, the idea crossed her mind that maybe, just maybe, she might be called to the religious life. Her parents, who were immigrants from Portugal, worked hard to make a good life for their family, and they sent her to a school run by Mother Cabrini’s Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
I was very active in school,” she recalled. “I played sports and did all different kinds of things. I never really thought of entering the convent until my freshman year when I kind of had this calling.”
When she was growing up, her mother always asked, “Don’t you want to become a sister?” And Lucille would promptly repond, “No, I don’t! Don’t even talk about it!”
But, by senior year, the desire became very, very strong, largely inspired by the example of sisters in her school.
“Then, when I told my mother I wanted to enter the convent, she said, ‘Oh no! Don’t even talk about it!” She was not happy with her daughter’s decision, but her father was.
And so, at 18 years old, right out of high school, she entered the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and within a month she was teaching second grade at a school in Brooklyn, NY.
Recalling the sisters who inspired her, she said, “I knew this is what I wanted because I saw the sisters interacting with one another and how they loved each other and how they reached out to us girls, not just for the academics, but for our personal lives and to help us grow and know Christ. That’s what really motivated me.”
Today, years later, after dedicating her life to the order, Sr. Lucille Souza, MSC has accomplished many things through the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the example of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the Patroness of Immigrants and the first American citizen saint.
recently spoke at the Cabrini Mass at Sacred Heart Church, which is sponsored by Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, CT. It commemorates the Italian-American founder of the religious order, who supported immigrants throughout the United States and established 67 institutions, including schools, orphanages and hospitals that cared for the poor and marginalized.
“Mother’s message today is as it has been throughout her whole life and that is love – bringing the love of Christ to the whole world,” Sr. Lucille said. “That is the message the Missionary Cabrini Sisters bring to the world. Bringing that love means feeding the poor and reaching out to those in hardship. Mother really had a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and that is the devotion and charism she has passed on to us.”
Mother’s deep love of the Sacred Heart is what propelled her to do everything she did. It was that love of him that he shared with her and, and she reciprocated that love to people she met along the way. “That is what we are trying to do today through that same love, that same going out of ourselves to give to others, especially those who are in dire straits,” she said.