The Path to the Future
Upon completing her coursework at the school at Arluno, she petitioned to join the Daughters of the Sacred Heart. Although Mother Giovanna Francesca Grassi saw in Frances a chosen soul full of virtue, she decided not to accept her fearing that her poor health would not permit her to endure the rigors of religious life. Nonetheless, perhaps to soften the blow. or perhaps out of intuition, Mother Grassi encouraged Frances saying, “You are called to establish another Institute that will bring new glory to the Heart of Jesus.” Her words were prophetic, indeed.
In 1868, Frances received her teacher’s diploma and returned to Sant’ Angelo where she taught in the private school established by her own sister, Rosa, and dedicated herself to works of charity and to serving the poor. In 1871, at the request of her pastor, when a substitute teacher was needed immediately, she moved to a nearby village of Vidardo to teach in the public school.
A Crucial Move
in 1874, the diocesan authorities asked Frances to move to Codogno, a larger town further away from home, to take over the direction of the House of Providence, a girls’ orphanage being unsuccessfully administered by Antonia Tondini and Maria Calza. They wished her to organize it with the structure and spirit of a religious institute. In complying with this request, Frances renounced forever the position of public school teacher and entered on a path of consecration to God. Five young women who were teaching at the House of Providence wanted to become religious sisters. The five women began their novitiate with Frances Cabrini as their novice mistress.
At the age of 27, in 1877, when she and her companions made their profession of religious vows, Frances added Xavier to her name in tribute to the Jesuit, Francis Xavier, who evangelized the Orient. The bishop named her superior of the community. In 1880, due to many difficulties, the diocesan authorities recognized that the House of Providence could not be formed into a religious community.