Mother Cabrini’s legacy lives on

By Gekeya Pinder
November 29, 2023

A stained glass window of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. Photo via Flickr.
A stained glass window of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. Photo via Flickr.

As Cabrini prepares to close its doors for the final academic year, the community and Campus Ministry are finding ways to keep Mother Cabrini’s legacy alive.

Mother Cabrini’s mission 

As many know, Cabrini’s mission, is the “education of the heart,” which was inspired by St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, who urged teachers to educate the hearts of their students. Mother Cabrini founded the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1880, when her frail health wouldn’t allow her to join the Daughters of the Sacred Heart.

Mother Cabrini’s statue. Photo by Gekeya Pinder.

She had a calling to help immigrants around the world, making 23 trans-Atlantic crossings and establishing 67 schools, hospitals, and orphanages. In 2023, the movie “Cabrini,” set for release in March of 2024, was screened on campus during Cabrini Day. The biographical film shows the real events of Cabrini’s life, her mission, and her service among the Italian immigrants of New York City.

Antoinette Reaves, director of Campus Ministry, said, “Everyone needs to see the movie of Mother Cabrini. I fell in love with her when I saw it. Before I came to work for this university, I was in love with her because she is so powerful.”

Amber Berkheimer, graduate criminology and criminal justice major and peer minister of Campus Ministry, agreed. “The Cabrini movie is a very good movie. I believe every student should watch it to learn more of her and be connected to her as well.”

The role of Campus Ministry

In the spirit of Mother Cabrini, Campus Ministry creates spaces for students, faculty, and staff to be connected with God in their own way.

Reaves said, “Campus Ministry is here to support everyone in this university, helping everyone remember what our values are. Also, understanding what Mother Cabrini stands for. So, they can carry those lessons when they leave Cabrini.”

Reaves continued, “We are currently working on putting a 67th  anniversary keepsake book for Cabrini. We asked alumni and will be showing to the students soon where they can share their favorite quote by Mother Cabrini

Cabrini University’s Chapel available to all students and faculty. Photo via Flickr.

or explain what they loved about being a part of the university.”

Berkheimer said, “The ministry is getting students interested in Mother Cabrini through her movie and having her story told as well.”

When asked his plans for honoring Mother Cabrini’s legacy, Fr. Francis Chambers, the chaplain of Campus Ministry, had no comment.

The legacy will stay

Mother Cabrini is not just a name, but an inspiration to the Cabrini community. “Everyone that works and comes to Cabrini for their education as a calling to keep her legacy alive wherever they go,” Reaves said. Katlynn Razler, senior early childhood education, peer minister of Campus Ministry, said, “Mother Cabrini’s legacy is so important to stay even when Cabrini wouldn’t be Cabrini anymore.”

A portrait of Mother Cabrini. Photo via Flickr.

Her legacy will stay as Villanova takes ownership of Cabrini and honors the work of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. “When Villanova takes over, Mother Cabrini’s name will always be attached to the school even when Cabrini is gone. Villanova will represent what she and the university stood for,” Razler said.

In a press release about the final agreement for Cabrini, Rev. Peter M. Donohue, Villanova university president, said, “Villanova’s and Cabrini’s shared faith, common values and corresponding missions allowed for a strong alignment of two like-minded institutions. This agreement provides an opportunity for Villanova to honor the legacy of Mother Cabrini and Cabrini University, while furthering our commitment to advancing Catholic higher education.”



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Gekeya Pinder

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