Cabrini University Senior Molly Seaman’s article has been chosen to be the lead story for the “Share the Journey Campaign” created by Pope Francis, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services and will be used to educate people around the world about Mother Cabrini’s Legacy.
Mother Cabrini, she lived for migrants
Do you know St. Frances Xavier Cabrini? You may know her as the first American saint, others remember her as the founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. But how many remember Mother Cabrini as the patron saint of immigrants, a fierce advocate for humans of all skin tones and a humanitarian with a deep passion for promotion the dignity and rights of every person.
Maria Francesca Cabrini was born in 1850 in Italy where she dreamed of becoming a missionary in China. Pope Leo XIII had other plans, however, and sent young Frances not to the East, but to the West, to work among Italian immigrants in New York City.
In this period of our history, Italians were leaving their homeland by the thousands for many of the same reasons immigrants are forced to migrate today: instability, conflict, ties to family. Mother Cabrini’s lifetime as known as the “new immigration” era in which over 3 million Italians made the perilous journey to seek refuge in America. At this time, this was viewed as one of the largest populations shifts in history. Fast-forward to 2017 and we are witnessing a similar displacement of people but at a greater magnitude.
According to Catholic Relief Services, the war in Syria has killed over 400,000 Syrians, and displaced more than 11 million civilians and counting. Millions of people have not only lost their homes but are struggling to retain the promise of a bright future for their children.
Similarly, hundreds of thousands of children, women and families are being forced to flee the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras) due to harsh push factors as gang violence, poverty, unemployment and climate change.
In 1880, Pope Leo desperately urged for the care of the Italian immigrants coming to the United States much like Pope Francis does today. In fact, this September, Pope Francis launched the “Share the Journey” https://www.sharejourney.org campaign in which he invites us all to “Share the Journey” with refugees and migrants around the world. The focus of the campaign is to see through the eyes of others rather than turning a blind eye. In the words of Pope Francis, “Not just to see, but to look. Not just to hear, but to listen. Not just to meet and pass by, but to stop. And don’t just say, ‘what a shame, poor people,’ but allow ourselves to be moved by pity.”
During his visit to the United States to speak to Congress, Pope Francis urged, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Mt. 7:12) This rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.
In the words of our hero, friend and all fleeing their homes and facing persecution, “Take to heart the interests of the poor immigrants and direct them well when they are on these shores.” ~ St. Frances Xavier Cabrini