Posted by: fvbcdm | November 13, 2013

Catholic Daily Message for the Feast of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (13 November 2013)

In my home town of New Orleans, there is a part of the city very dear to me. It is in what we call “downtown,” that is, east of Canal Street which divides the city into “uptown” and “downtown.” The “up and down” refer to the flow of the Mississippi River, not to north and south as on a map.

In the part of the city I speak of, we find City Park, the city’s largest green area with an art museum, beautiful old trees, a lagoon, tennis and golf courses, and even a middle school for boys run by the Christian Brothers.  At the main entrance to City Park there is an equestrian statue of Beauregard, a Confederate general during the Civil War who was a native of New Orleans.  That statue faces a natural body of water called Bayou Saint John which played an important part in the history of early New Orleans.  A few yards away, there are two buildings associated with Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini—more affectionately called “Mother Cabrini” as she was called during her lifetime, some of which was spent in those buildings. She had founded a congregation of Sisters to help her with her work among the Italian immigrants in this country.  To house them and their work, she bought an old plantation house on Bayou Saint John and then had another building built on the same property which would serve as school and orphanage and motherhouse.  In the building she had built one can still visit the little room she used as a bedroom when she visited her Sisters and their charges there. Years ago, I met an old lady who remembered Mother Cabrini whom we celebrate today.  When that old lady was a child, she and her mother would often encounter Mother Cabrini on the sidewalks of that part of the city, with her basket on her arm, going from store to store asking for groceries, cloth, needles and thread, or money to help her and her Sisters with their work among the poor and homeless.  That whole part of the city is still redolent with the spirit of Mother Cabrini, whose statue in the front yard of the convent she built looks out over Esplanade Avenue and blesses those coming and going, many of them totally oblivious of the fact that a canonized saint once walked those sidewalks and rode on that avenue.

Mother Cabrini came to America from her native Italy in 1889. For the next 28 years, she worked indefatigably in the United States and in Central America for the good of the Italian immigrants. She died in the Columbus Hospital which she had founded in Chicago. The armchair in which she died can still be seen and venerated there. Her body is encased in glass in a high school chapel which her Sisters conduct in New York City. She was the first United States citizen to be canonized, since she had obtained her citizenship during her work in our country.

The immigrants who still come to our country—some legally, some otherwise—are a political problem for us, but hold great promise of productive citizenship in the future.  Many of them from Latin America are our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church.  Let us pray for them and do what we can by our civic duties to welcome them into our nation and make it possible for them to lead useful, productive lives in our midst, following the example of this wonderful little Italian woman whom we celebrate today. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This is a CDM composed by Father Brown in the past.


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