Today is the feast of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, known as Mother Cabrini, the first United States citizen recognized as a saint of the Church, and the patron saint of immigrants in the United States. Her story is one of service and outreach to those marginalized by their new society and culture. Her story is one of living the Gospel message and bringing the love of Christ to others. Her message is that there are people to care for, God's children in need, and that while the harsh realities are being dealt with in the political, economic and social scene,the spiritual and emotional needs of those who have come to a new land must be ministered to.
Mother Cabrini was sent to New York from Italy by Pope Leo XIII in 1887 with a simple directive "Take care of the Italian immigrants!" She and her Sisters, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart did just that, ministering in New York, Chicago, Denver and Latin America to the "aliens", the "foreigners". Like many who have found their way to this country in our day from Mexico, Cuba, Latin America and from around the world, often illegally and not having gone through proper channels, they found themselves belittled, ridiculed, stereotyped, discriminated against and taken advantage of. Mother Cabrini and her Sisters brought the love of Christ into their lives, and with it dignity and hope, and with it the invitation to embrace this great land as their own. She did that herself, and became a naturalized American citizen.
We are a nation of immigrants - my ancestors came from Eastern Europe years ago. Our strength as a nation is in the reality of being a "melting pot" of the best that the world has to offer, with the encouragement given to them to build this nation into a gift from God. Countless men and women, like Mother Cabrini, continue to do so through the legal process. Unfortunately countless others have chosen other means. This must be addressed in fairness and with justice. The border must be secured. But we must recognize the human lives that are are at stake, caught in the mix, and in need of the Mother Cabrini's of our day. Let us intercede with her for wisdom and courage, rooted in the love of Christ.
I mentioned back in a 2011 post that Mother Cabrini stayed overnight at our convent at Saint John the Baptist parish in Scottdale during her travels. The Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, who were assigned there, shared their hospitality with her. It was always a local tie in to this wonderful saint when I served there as pastor, and it still is.