To commemorate the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita on February 8th members of the Cabrini University community gathered for “Cabrinian Responses to Immigration Issues: A Breakfast Conversation.” Tom Southard, Executive Director of the Wolfington Center, welcomed students, faculty and staff to the event with a brief story about the life of Sr. Bakhita, and Sr. Christine Marie Baltas, MSC, offered a reflection on the work of Sr. Bakhita in light of our Catholic and Cabrinian mission as a University.
President Donald Taylor offered further reflections on the statements of solidarity with immigrants that he has signed on behalf of the University, reading aloud two letters, from a current student and an alumna, which offered contrasting views on whether the University should take a public stand on these issues. While maintaining the vital importance of honest discussion and diverse perspectives on these matters, President Taylor explained the rationale for his decision to make such strong public statements—rooted in the Cabrinian corporate stance on immigration, Mother Cabrini’s identity as the Patroness of Immigrants, and Pope Francis’ teachings on these matters.
The event featured a talk by Fr. Augustine Puleo, PhD, who offered a first-hand perspective on the realities of life in the predominantly Mexican-immigrant parish of St. Patrick’s in Norristown, PA. Fr. Gus began his talk with two prayers: the Prayer of St. Francis, and the Novena to Mother Cabrini. Through a series of stories involving the highs and lows of life in St. Pat’s, Fr. Gus emphasized the vibrant faith of his congregants, the massive obstacles they face in raising their families, and the continuous work done by the church to offer hope and assistance to the most poor and vulnerable. The great Catholic call to respect the life and dignity of all, he reminded us, extends from conception to natural death—and includes prenatal care, assistance for at-risk children, and a viable path to higher education. In the end, Fr. Gus reminded us, none of the migrants in his parish live en las sombras (in the shadows), because they live in the light of Christ, and for all of us our true citizenship is in Heaven. These are concerns that would be close to the heart of Mother Cabrini, as we prayed at the outset: “Inspire me with your love of the Heart of Jesus; then, at my end, guide this my migrant soul and bring me safe to God.”
~submitted by Raymond E. Ward, PhD, Associate Director for Peace and Justice, Wolfington Center, Cabrini University