Seminar celebrates life of St. Cabrini

By Lauren Mineo
February 27, 2003

On a mission to enlighten the Cabrini College community about its founding mother, Debra Stumpf led a seminar on Feb. 12 entitled, “Mother Cabrini: Citizen of the World.” Stumpf, director of the Cabrini Shrine in New York City, spoke for approximately an hour about the many accomplishments of Mother Cabrini. “What’s amazing about her is her ability to see beyond her immediate goal and task,” Stumpf said.

Born Maria Francesca Cabrini, she was known to everyone as Frances. This young lady, touched by God since childhood, decided that the education of children was her calling. At the age of 24, she was asked to lend her services at an orphanage in Codogno, Italy. After her stay of six years, she became Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini. She chose the name Xavier because of her love and adoration of the missionary, St. Francis Xavier.

Urged by the local bishop, Mother Cabrini found a mission in Codogno. Upon receiving the approval by the Vatican she began the Missionary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in November of 1880.

Pope Leo XIII sent Mother Cabrini to the west. “The institute is still young. There you will find the means to do great work,” the pope said. Though afraid of water, Mother Cabrini traveled to the United States and back 9 times.

Before visiting New York City, Mother Cabrini had thought it too small for her. However, she once said, “For me, the whole world is too small.”

By 1892 Mother Cabrini’s calling was nowhere near ending. She had a dream in which she watched Mary taking care of people in a hospital. Stumpf narrated, “‘What are you doing,’ asked Mother Cabrini to Mary, ‘I am doing what you will not do,’ Mary said.'” After this dream, Mother Cabrini decided that she must build and work in hospitals. She began by opening the Columbus Hospital which is now the Cabrini Medical Center in Gramercy Park, N.Y.

Another Cabrini landmark is the Cabrini Shrine in the northern Manhattan area of New York City. Mother Cabrini discovered this property in 1899, often staying there on her journeys. Stumpf is interested in taking Cabrini students to visit the shrine dedicated to Mother Cabrini, now known as St. Frances Xavier Cabrini after being canonized in 1946 as America’s first Citizen Saint. Junior Josh Dzielak, among those in attendance at the seminar said, “I thought it was really interesting and I would like very much to take a trip to the Cabrini Shrine.”

During her lifetime, Mother Cabrini said, “The world is only a small ball for the missionary sister. Look how the infant savior holds it in his hand.” Her legacy is being carried out, to this day, within many of the 67 schools, hospitals and other institutions throughout the world.

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Lauren Mineo

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