A day to remember: July 21, 1915

By defaultuser
April 19, 2001

by Mother Ursula

It began on the preceding evening when I attended the parish church for Tuesday devotions and benediction. Moreover, I needed the grace of courage for the following day. At the conclusion of the services, I bid farewell to my pastor, Fr. John Vogel, and to my confessor, Rev. Max Haarpainter; also to my special friends who were not in favor of my leaving for the convent. They argued that later on I might discover that it was not my vocation, etc. I countered that with saying: “I’ll consecrate myself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and I’ll stay- vocation or not.”

Wednesday morning dawned. After attending to my ordinary chores, I removed my diamond earrings and ring and placed them on the bureau in my room. I changed my summery short-sleeved dress for a long-sleeved blouse and a beige suit. When my mother saw me, she wanted to know what was wrong with me, wearing a suit on a hot day. I put on my hat, picked up my bag and left.

My parents did not know I was leaving for the convent. Since all pleas to win their consent had failed, I decided to go without their knowledge. I left a letter for them in my room, which they did not see until I failed to return home in the evening. I was supposed to be at work.

I walked to South Ferry where according to pre-arrangements, I met Mother Aurelia and her companion who had my luggage. We took the subway to 181st St. and while we were walking to 190th St., Mother Aurelia was giving me advice for convent life. She said: “You know Anna, the Sisters are curious. Don’t tell them all your business. If you are asked something, don’t refuse under the pretext of not knowing how- try to do it,” etc. Finally we reached the Sacred Heart Villa on Ft. Washington Ave. in New York City.

So tremulously, I rang the doorbell. Sister George, who already been informed of my arrival by Mother Cabrini, let us in. She recognized me and said that Mother Foundress was expecting me, and she went to notify her. Mother Cabrini came smiling to the parlor of the Professed House. She talked awhile to Mother Aurelia and me, and then, right there in the parlor, in not time at all, I was vested in the habit of a postulant of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. My secular clothes vanished. I remember Mother Foundress straightening my cape. After Mother Aurelia left I asked for the book of Rules so that I would know what to do. That request went unheeded. The next thing I recall is that I was served dinner in a room by myself. Among other things, there was a bowl of soup on the tray. I detested soup! But Mother Aurelia had told me that if I was choosy about eating, it would be a sign that I had no vocation. And, after running away from home, I wanted Mother Foundress to know, above all others, that I did have a vocation. So I ate all the soup that was in the bowl.

In the afternoon, I was brought down to the Novitiate where the Novices took me in hand. One novice, in particular Sister Giacomina, tried to make me realize how fortunate I was to enter on a Wednesday, a day dedicated to St. Joseph, the patron of interior life. Then she went on to show me all the Community Prayers we say each day, and elaborated on the 3 1/2 hours we had on Friday mornings with meditation, office, Mass, Hour of Adoration and Benediction. Later I met Mother Daniel the Mother Mistress who at the time was in the loft making mattresses.

In the evening when I entered the refectory for supper, I saw about 100 Sisters who had come for their Annual Retreat standing in perfect silence. After grace there was a roar of joyful greetings. I was amazed! Everyone seemed so happy to see each other. With the passage of food, the roar diminished. Following recreation, the Spiritual Exercises began in the Chapel where Mother Foundress spoke from the rear. I was busy thanking the Lord for getting me thus far, that I did not pay attention to what she said.

Then night came and with it came the fear of my parents’ reaction to my leaving home. It was my first night away from home. Tears flowed. Sister Basil and Sister Cyprean McDonald came to my room to help me dress for the night and dry my tears. They left me reassured and happy. Thus ended the day of my entrance into the convent, and the day I had yearned for four years, the day Mother Cabrini had chosen for me to enter.

As I write this today, exactly seventy years later, I thank God with all my heart for having chosen me for His Service, and for all the graces He has bestowed upon me. Praised be His Most Sacred Heart.

Mother Ursula Infante, foundress of Cabrini College, wrote this letter on the occassion of her 70th Anniversary as a religious servant.

Dr. Mary Louise Sullivan, MSC, a faculty member and dear friend of Mother Infante’s, asked her to write about her first day as a Missionary Sister of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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