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.
Mother Cabrini based her work on an “education of the heart”; promoting Gospel values, critical thinking and openness towards others. Through this initiative and all of our Foundation programs the Cabrini Mission Foundation continues to carry Mother Cabrini’s legacy forward.
Mother Cabrini and the Missionary Sisters opened a number schools and provided educational opportunities to children across New York for over 100 years. While the actual schools have since closed, to continue this education ministry in New York, our Foundation continues to provide needed funds to help at-risk students receive a faith-based education.
We are pleased to announce the 2021-2022 school year Mother Cabrini Scholarship awarded academic institutions.
St. Catharine Academy, in the Bronx, New York, offers an all-girls program where the students are prepared for college success, leadership and engagement in the world community, the Foundation’s support of St. Catharine’s will provide tuition assistance to a number of students during the current academic year.
The De La Salle School, in Freeport, New York, provides economically disadvantaged young men with a Catholic education grade 5 through 8. The Foundation’s support will offer their students and recent graduates’ programs to ensure they have the tools needed to excel during and following their time at the middle school.
The Kennedy Children’s Center, in Manhattan, New York, with its high-quality educational services for young children with developmental delays will create a custom-designed sensory garden, which will act as a safe space for the preschoolers, staff and the families to engage in developmentally appropriate learning to build social-emotional skills.
The Foundation is proud to honor the work of Mother Cabrini as well as all of the Missionary Sisters who have and continue to serve as educators – this truly is a life project for the present time and for the future.
There were plenty of smiles, tears, and cheers at the highly anticipated 2021 Cabrini Mission Foundation Gala, hosted on Oct 7th at the Metropolitan Club. The event bolstered many familiar and a few new faces, all sharing a common goal to support and celebrate the Missionary Sisters as well as the honorees. A dazzling performance by our emcee, Joe Piscopo and a first look at the upcoming Mother Cabrini movie were just a few highlights of the wonderful night.
The feeling in the room was heart-warming as each honoree was highlighted for their remarkable achievements and commitment to helping others. Four individuals were awarded the Covid Angel Award which recognizes those who have helped their community and brought smiles to the faces of those who needed it most.
Nurse Bissoondai Persad has the task of caring for our Senior Sisters at the Sacred Heart Convent here in New York, and at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, worked diligently to keep our Sisters safe. Luzmilla Cedeño has been a volunteer at Cabrini Immigrant Services in New York for 20 years, and each week has come to help in the distribution of food to those in need as part of our food pantry program. Ronald Cole, a Respiratory Therapist at the St. Cabrini Nursing Home, has been courageous throughout the pandemic, and was one of the first to deliver up close and personal care
and treatment to our residents who contracted COVID-19. Kathleen Ann Michels, an Emergency Room nurse in New York-Presbyterian Hospital the Weill Cornell Level 1 Trauma Center, was at the forefront of treating COVID patients as the pandemic unfolded, working countless hours to help see them recover.
Along with these dedicated individuals, three honorees were awarded the Spirit of Cabrini Award, which represents an understanding of Mother Cabrini and a willingness to continue her legacy of helping people who are in need throughout New York City beginning with the Italian-American community. Philip Foglia, Sr. (Posthumously) and Chazz and Gianna Palminteri, have been involved with the Foundation for many years and were able to use their connections to erect the Mother Cabrini statue in Bryant Park.
The Sisters and Foundation staff would like to extend a heart-felt thank you to everyone in attendance and for the continued support of the mission.
Every day we seek to continue Mother Cabrini’s legacy and lifelong commitment to the dignity, development and empowerment of all people, especially during natural disasters, and to do so, the Cabrini Mission Foundation responds with urgency to provide immediate assistance to those in need. The devastation that has swept through Haiti following last month’s magnitude 7.2 earthquake has left thousands of people without basic necessities, food, housing and access to life-saving medical attention.
In order to help with relief efforts, foundation, in collaboration with the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – Guadalupe Province, has donated $10,000 to the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB), a century-old organization rooted in Catholic traditions and deeply committed to addressing health inequities for women and children worldwide, to assist in providing medical aid and more to the people of Haiti.
Within three hours of the quake, CMMB-Haiti allocated and shipped medicines to Les Cayes health facilities, sent two orthopedic surgeons and five anesthesiologists to the region to perform critical surgeries at Immaculate Conception Hospital in Les Cayes; distributed 20,000 water purification tablets to provide 100,000 gallons of potable water to people lacking safe drinking water; and provided food to families of those hospitalized, so they could care for their injured loved ones.
We are honored to help CMMB’s mission in helping the country, and we will continue to pray for the safety of all persons in Haiti as well as the CMMB staff. ~ CMF website
The Cabrini Mission Foundation responds with boldness and urgency to the unmet needs of the most vulnerable, especially when there are those in need in our own community. During the summer season, our team worked with Cabrini Immigrant Services’ NYC Food Pantry, and has been dedicated to supporting and feeding more than 200 families each week.
Whether it was lugging groceries up numerous flights of stairs or working as a team to fill the bags of food, our Sisters, staff, and volunteers worked tirelessly to provide meals for the disadvantaged. Though many of us come from different backgrounds, speak different languages or come from various parts of the world, we came together to “answer the call” for help, as Mother Cabrini did throughout her lifetime ~ CMF website
Answering the Call to US-Mexico Border: Missionary Sisters Are Pro-active
~ from Cabrini Mission Foundation website
The Cabrini Mission Foundation has a long history of working with migrants and displaced people. Responding to the Gospel call for justice and love, honoring the Catholic Social Teachings on the dignity of all persons, and continuing the legacy of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Patroness of Immigrants, the Cabrini Mission Foundation is committed to:
WELCOME as brothers and sisters all immigrants to the lands in which we are missioned.
SUPPORT the rights of all persons to flee political, religious, or economic persecution; and support the basic human rights and dignity of all persons regarding: food, shelter, health care, employment at just wages, religious freedom and also honoring their customs and traditions.
EDUCATE others and ourselves about the needs of immigrants.
RE-EXAMINE political laws and regulations in the light of these justice issues and to work to change those that do not meet human needs.
WORK in solidarity with immigrants and with others who share our values and beliefs to promote justice and compassion for all immigrants.
Led by Sr. Pietrina Raccuglia, MSC the Cabrini Mission Foundation has made two trips to the State of Texas at the United States and Mexican border. These visits gave us the opportunity to create partnerships and launch new programmatic initiatives, despite not having a physical presence at the border. The Cabrini Mission Foundation has maintained a proactive approach to the border crisis throughout the pandemic.
While political realities change, the truth remains. Displaced people, who have fled their home due to conflict, crime, persecution, poverty or simply in hope of a fresh start and better life are often preyed upon, during their arduous journey.
The Cabrini Mission Foundation in partnership with Angry Tias & Abuelas of the Rio Grande Valley, Pastor Abraham Barberi of One Mission Ministries as well as Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley is sponsoring the opening of a new shelter for asylum seekers in Matamoros, Mexico.
This is the third shelter at the border with whom the Cabrini Mission Foundation has partnered. Thanks to our generous donors we are grateful to be able to provide a safe environment, warm meals, clean water, a roof over their heads to protect them from the weather and a clean bed to sleep. The shelter is housing over 100 people as they await entry to the United States.
To date, the Cabrini Mission Foundation has provided funds for the building of a well, bunk beds, Covid-19 protective items such as face masks, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes. We have also provided requested clothing items such as socks and underwear, in addition to disposable paper products; plates, napkins, cups and towels. As shelter needs grow, we are now looking into the purchase of a commercial refrigerator and freezer.
As access to COVID-19 vaccines become more readily available, it brings hope the pandemic will soon ease its grip. Our prayers continue for all who grapple with the virus, and we are optimistic here in New York, once the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the United States, we can soon return to a sense of normalcy.
For our immigrant families, business interruptions and closures have meant a loss of jobs. The lack of working hours over the last year have led to mounting debt. When it comes to paying for food or rent, the choice is obvious. In response to this COVID-19 driven crisis, the Cabrini Mission Foundation offers a rent assistance program for those most impacted.
To qualify, renters must have documented proof of a current lease, a letter from their landlord as well as recommendation from one of our immigrant services caseworkers or immigration attorneys. The current family benefit is $1,000 and Foundation checks go directly to the landlords to cover past due rent.
The Cabrini Mission Foundation has been able to assist 37 families to date with this program. ~ CMF website