Faith Heritage Newark Tradition

Showing up for Mother Cabrini

In my last post I asked you to show up for Mother Cabrini. And all I can say is wow! Talk about showing up!

Members of the Italian American community with ties to Newark and Our Lady of Mount Carmel attended a meeting at the church last night to discuss the plan to move the Mother Cabrini statue from outside Penn Station.

The crowd of 75 in attendance included a representative from the St. Francis Cabrini Shrine, a member of the history department of New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and three priests. Everyone at the meeting showed a deep concern for the future of Mother Cabrini and the lack of communication on the plan. Many offered heartfelt testimony on the future of the park and Mother Cabrini.

Councilman Silva meets with members of the Italian American community
Councilman Silva meets with concerned members of the Italian American community to discuss the status of Mother Cabrini Park outside Penn Station. (Credit: Anthony Cassano)

Councilman Silva listened to the concerns and suggestions for a little more than two hours and provided some additional context. He explained he was approached by North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. about moving Mother Cabrini to the North Ward at the request of an Italian American organization primarily located in the North Ward. Many in attendance felt that if Mother Cabrini is to be moved anywhere, she should be brought to Our Lady of Mount Carmel where the organization that donated the statue to the city originally met.

As I said last night, there is very little proof Newark was once home to multiple vibrant Italian immigrant communities. Two communities were displaced around the turn of the century in order to expand Penn Station. Thousands of residents and businesses of the Old First Ward were forced from their neighborhood to construct the Columbus Homes and Rt. 280. All that’s left is St. Lucy’s, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Spilingese Social Club, and Mother Cabrini outside Penn Station.

So What’s Next?

Councilman Silva assured the crowd nothing will be done without further discussion. He also said he will arrange for interested individuals to gain access to the park to keep it clean.

What needs to happen now is continue to keep pressure on the City Council to ensure this remains a point of public discussion and not a back room deal. Contact members of the Council, especially Councilman Silva and Councilman Ramos and share your concerns and thoughts on how to proceed.

Mother Cabrini came to the aid of our ancestors when they needed her. She deserves our respect and care. It is now time for us to return the favor.

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