Cabrini University celebrated Mother Cabrini’s 171st birthday in traditional fashion with cake, candles and ice cream.
Mother Cabrini’s 171st birthday was celebrated with great joy last Saturday at St. Frances X. Cabrini Shrine in Upper Manhattan. Joining us were a dozen Missionary Sisters, several lay collaborators from Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC and Dobbs Ferry, and hundreds of faithful families and friends. We had Mass with Bishop Gerald Walsh (English) and Bishop Josu Iriondo (Spanish), cake, mariachi, activities for kids, and a very, very good time.
And so it was that last Saturday, with a spring in our step and prayerful intentions in mind, we exited the F train at Carroll Street in Brooklyn and began our journey back in time.
We were focused on visiting 580 Henry Street, the old convent, where a few of us spent many happy, fun filled years teaching and serving the immigrants in this Italian community. We stood in front of 580 Henry Street, a beautiful brownstone, and looked up at the four floors above us and remembered. The first floor was the chapel; second floor the community room; third and fourth floors were the bedrooms. We laughed at how often we climbed the winding stairs and marveled at how some of the bedrooms had a perfect view of the Statue of Liberty. We wondered how all twenty-two Sisters could possibly squeeze into the small chapel.
On we trudged to our local parish, Sacred Hearts and St. Stephens, on the corner of Summit and Hicks Streets. “Wow”, we said in unison. “The church looks the same.” Statues of saints lined the sides of the church and red, votive candles flickered where fervent parishioners prayed that a special grace be granted to them. The windows were stained glass, one of them of Mother Cabrini in a place of honor toward the front of the church. This Italian community of Carroll Gardens has a special devotion to Mother Cabrini who walked these same streets, meeting and greeting newly arrived Italian immigrants, decades ago. We could almost feel Mother’s presence.
In addition to the treasures inside the church, we were fortunate to be able to admire the newly dedicated statue of Mother Cabrini, sitting right outside. Mother is with two young children, a boy and a girl and she seems content in their presence. We placed some flowers at Mother’s feet, took pictures and spent a moment or two in silent prayer
before we moved on.
This time we moved on down Henry Street toward Sackett Street, hoping to find a place to sit in the shade and eat something refreshing. Even walking these few blocks was a trip down memory lane. So many of the old brownstones looked the same, but in between these buildings we could spot some new construction that appeared very modern, almost out of place. And surprisingly, the streets were quiet for a Saturday afternoon.
Finally, we spotted an eatery, just what we were looking for. Farmacy is an old-fashioned ice cream parlor on the corner of Henry and Sackett Streets. We had to sit outside because sections inside were closed off because of Covid restrictions. Nonetheless, the outside was delightfully, cool and a perfect spot for enjoying hot dogs and ice cream sundaes topped with whipped cream and a cherry. “Ah”, we said.
The hours flew by and we each had a long trip home. So, off we went heading back toward the Carroll Street subway station and the F train. We admired the lovely brownstones and colorful gardens. And the stoops! Where else can you find stoops like these? We agreed, Carroll Gardens is a special place.
As we said good-bye to one another, Sister Christine Marie, Anne, Marilyn, Michael, Kate and I, we agreed that the day was perfect and we planned to make this pilgrimage a yearly, tradition.
~submitted by Marianne McGowan, CLM
Maria Francesca Cabrini was born July 15, 1850, at Sant’ Angelo Lodigiano, a small town on the plains of Lombardy some twenty miles south of Milan. Two months premature, she was, at birth and throughout her life, of delicate health. Maria Francesca was the tenth child born to Agostino and Stella Cabrini.
Her Early Years
Her family played an important role in the formation of her personality. The loving atmosphere of the home developed in her an affectionate nature and strong self-identity. In later years, Mother Cabrini showed great concern for family life as she tenderly reached out to immigrant parents in their homes. She opened schools for their sons and daughters in which she applied a pedagogy of love. She provided specific medical assistance to young children and reserved for them a special place in her heart and in her works, establishing, when circumstances necessitated, orphanages where they came to know that although deprived of one or both parents, they had a new home where they were loved.
Francesca’s father had his livelihood on the land. The young Francesca, who was raised close to the soil, became familiar with the region’s fruits and flowers and she learned early to value nature. Throughout her life she would be acutely sensitive to cloud formations, birds, and the variegated hues and aromas of harvest.
This daughter of a relatively prosperous farmer was astute in recognizing potential sources of water on land considered to be arid. In 1890, Mother Cabrini purchased property from the Jesuits in West Park, New York, to house orphaned girls in the immigrant ghettos of New York City, The apparent lack of an adequate water supply was remedied when she personally inspected the grounds and indicated where a well should be dug. The effort was successful and still provides an adequate water supply for the property. A similar incident occurred a few years later. Mother Cabrini wanted to build a summer home for her orphan children in the mountains above Denver, but there seemed to be no water on or nearby the premises in Golden, Colorado. On a visit to the mountain locale she pointed to a large red rock and directed that it be moved. As soon as this was done, a bubbling spring gushed forth. All these years later, this same spring is still furnishing water to the site. The farmer’s daughter may have used a divining rod or her intuition to locate water on the properties or, as some say, these discoveries may have been small “miracles.”
A Saint for All People
As a testament to her life’s work, an award, given in 1952 posthumously, by The American Committee on Italian Migration to the Italian Immigrant of the Century, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini reads, “Mother of the Immigrant, Servant of the Poor, Consoler of the Sick, Guardian of the Orphan, Teacher of the Little Ones, Friend of the Laborer, Daughter of Italy, Citizen of the United States, Messenger of Peace, Handmaid of the Sacred Heart, who in her humble hidden life of prayer, work and sacrifice for mankind has merited the Crown of Sainthood in the Eternal City of God.
~Mother Cabrini, “Italian Immigrant of the Century” by Sr. Mary Louise Sullivan, MSC
To duly commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Canonization of Mother Cabrini at the Vatican on July 7, 1946, the members of the Cabrini University community gathered to offer a celebratory toast on this historic occasion. Holy Spirit Library Director Anne Schwelm provided a display of historic photos of the canonization for all to view during the ceremony.
Opening remarks were given by Angela Campbell, PhD, Vice-President of Mission, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Student Engagement. Dr. Campbell expressed her appreciation of and commitment to the Cabrinian mission and the many blessings it has afforded her.
Following her remarks, Sr. Christine Marie Baltas, MSC, Campus Ministry Associate, offered a toast giving thanks for the life of Mother Cabrini and the lay collaborators who continue the Cabrinian mission each day. Cheers!
We are delighted to welcome to our Shrine team our new Rector Father Ramil Fajardo. His new ministry at the Shrine became effective July 1, 2021.
. Ramil is a well-respected priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago with an impressive background and keen knowledge of our Missionary Sisters and their mission here at the Shrine. He came to know our Sisters during his first assignment at St. Clement Church in Lincoln Park where they attend daily Mass.
He was ordained May 22, 2004. Following his assignment at St. Clement, Fr. Ramil returned to St. Mary of the Lake to pursue advanced studies in Sacred Theology. In 2010, he went to Canada to study Canon Law at Saint Paul University of Ottawa, Ontario and earned a Canon Law Licentiate.
On January 15, 2013, Fr. Fajardo joined Holy Name Cathedral and began his duty as a judge of the Metropolitan Tribunal. In July 2017, he received additional duties as Director of Liturgy and Cardinal’s delegate for Saint James Chapel and the Archbishop Quigley Pastoral Center.
We look forward to working with Fr. Ramil as we progress and move into the future with his leadership and vision. The Shrine’s Executive Director, Sister Bridget Zanin, MSC and Father Ramil will be diligently working on a new schedule of Shrine events, including confessions, adoration, and other formational programming. As new events are added, details will be posted on our website at cabrininationalshrine.org.
We invite you to The National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini where Fr. Ramil will celebrate Mass on Saturday at 4:00 pm and Sunday at 10:00 am. The Shrine is located at 2520 N Lakeview Ave Chicago, IL 60614.
National Endowment for the Humanities Grant Funds New Mother Cabrini Exhibition
A federal grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will fund the next phase in a Cabrini-led effort to digitize and exhibit artifacts telling the life story of University namesake Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini. Totaling nearly $150,000, the grant affords access to critical hardware, software, and data storage tools, as well as professional photography, supporting the creation of an online exhibition titled “America’s First Citizen Saint: The Saint Frances Cabrini Collection.”
“Everyone can relate to something in Mother Cabrini’s life, whether it’s her spirituality, love for Christ, or her work with immigrants, the poor, and orphans,” said Anne Schwelm, Director of the University’s Holy Spirit Library. “It’s such a compelling story, and this project will help it to be told.”
The project is expected to be completed in spring 2024, though the Holy Spirit Library began digitally cataloging photographs, portraits, letters, and other documents related to Mother Cabrini for The Cabriniana Collection in 2019. Much of the work to date has been supported through contributions to a fund named in honor of Sister Mary Louise Sullivan, MSC, PhD (’63), a former Cabrini President and Mother Cabrini historian.
While the collection resembles a digital catalog at this phase in its development, Schwelm said the NEH grant will allow us to expand from this foundation and “enable us to really create a digital exhibition that links the artifacts and puts them together to tell [Mother Cabrini’s] story.”
Schwelm said there is interest in collaborating with other archivists to link together Mother Cabrini’s archives with those of other saints. “We’d love to see this as one component of digitizing America’s saints,” she said.
The project has roots in academia, but Schwelm said she sees it making a broader impact in K–12 education, as well as with anyone who has an interest in American history. She said the collection’s primary sources offer an important look into the anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic prejudices Mother Cabrini faced, while underscoring students’ broader diversity, equity, and inclusion education.
Requests for access to artifacts have already come from Mother Cabrini shrines in New York City, Chicago, and Denver. In addition to the “First Citizen Saint” digital exhibition, the project will also be available through digital portals, including the Catholic Resources Research Alliance and Digital Public Library.
“The digital collection is so important because it will make the story of Saint Frances Cabrini and her legacy available to anyone who may be seeking information about her online,” said Christine Marie Baltas, MSC (’66), when the Cabriniana Collection opened in 2019.
June 12, 2021
By Erin DeGregorio, The Tablet
CARROLL GARDENS — It was a long time coming for the Diocese of Brooklyn to have its own Mother Cabrini statue, but the faithful finally got to see the final figure.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio unveiled and blessed the statue and shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini — also known as Mother Cabrini — outside her Brooklyn parish, Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen Church on June 11.
Members of Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, founded in 1880 by Mother Cabrini, were also in attendance. Once the sisters removed the red fabric from the monument, applause, Italian music, and red, white, and green confetti filled the air.
The statue features Mother Cabrini standing on a cobblestone street with two young children on either side of her. She is depicted at the age she was when she arrived in Brooklyn — approximately 40 years old — and wearing the habit of her order.
The design of the statue includes a variety of historical references, including on the brick base on which the statue will stand. The base also contains the cornerstone of the original church.
Mother Cabrini worked in Brooklyn after she and six other Cabrini Sisters arrived in the U.S. from her native Italy in 1889 and tended to immigrants in the original Carroll Gardens church, which is now the site of Mother Cabrini Park.
“The decision was that the statue should be placed in the parish where she worked here in Brooklyn first,” said John Heyer II, pastoral associate at Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen Parish. “She founded the first school for Italian immigrants here on all of Long Island, quite frankly, and the first for the Diocese of Brooklyn.”
Sister Antonina Avitabile, MSC was a member of the committee that helped bring the diocese’s statue to fruition.
“I think the parish and the Italians in the Brooklyn diocese will love it,” she said before the unveiling. “We put a lot of work into choosing it.”
Msgr. Guy Massie, pastor of Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen, noted the important messages the monument sends.
“It makes a statement to all immigrants that the church is with them and for them, particularly at this time in the history of the United States where there are such anti-immigrant feelings,” he explained. “And it is a great statement of the devotion that people have to Frances Cabrini, who lived right here in our parish.”
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June 11 is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is devotion to Jesus Christ Himself, but in the particular ways of meditating on his interior life and on His threefold love — His divine love, His burning love that fed His human will, and His sensible love that affects His interior life.
Christ crucified is the revelation of the Father’s glory. Understanding this splendid revelation fills our hearts with the unique joy of being loved and participating in the salvation of the kingdom. This was the message entrusted by the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, calling us to render love for love, to make amends for the indifference and the coldness of so many hearts, to free our own hearts from egoism and violence. We learn from the Sacred Heart of Jesus what it means to give ourselves to the world. ~ Frances Cabrini: Remembering the Journey
For Mother Cabrini, steps, words, movements, thoughts were the field of action in which the Heart of Jesus could work, especially in souls who were open in expectant and faithful love. Joyful intimacy with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an abundant communion of love, is available to everyone. Those who love Jesus are happy when He is loved by others, but at the same time, they desire their own love to grow. ~ Frances Cabrini: Remembering the Journey
Let us pray:
Oh, Sacred Heart of Jesus, may we be patient and persevering in times of desolation, trusting that your love and grace will be ever present.
May we be grateful for the gift of your consolation and let it invigorate our faith, our hope, and our love.
May we always discern for this “work of your heart” in the light of your good spirit and hold firm in times of discouragement and darkness. We ask this, O Jesus, trusting in your promise. Amen.
The Feast of St. Cabrini was truly a day of blessings and celebrations. Three of our Cabrini Lay Missionaries (CLMs), renewed their commitment for three years on the Feast Day.
Thanks to technology, we were able to come together, via Zoom, to celebrate Patricia Krasnausky, Patricia Stancato-Purkey and Vicky Lucio as they prayed their recommitment.
Ordinarily, our commitments are made on the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Due to COVID-19, we could not come together for a prayer service. It was then decided that our three CLMs would make their commitments at the Provincial Assembly. Again, COVID made us change the plans as the Assembly was cancelled. I guess it was like the determination of St. Cabrini that we finally were able to connect and pray together for our CLMs.
What a special time it was as we had several of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart join us in our prayer service. In addition to our CLMs who live in California, Washington State, New Jersey and New York, we had Sr. Bernadette Anello, MSC, General Councilor, who joined us from Rome, Sr. Diane Olmstead, Provincial, from NYC, and several other Sisters from NYC and the Sisters who minister at St. Cabrini Nursing Home.
We had a pleasant surprise to have so many of the Sisters from Sacred Heart Convent join us! It was so nice to see everyone and share some conversation and prayer.