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The Story of a Powerhouse: Mother Cabrini

This week, an important film about an Italian-born, eventual United States citizen will be released; the story of Mother Cabrini. The woman who was born prematurely, orphaned, suffered with health issues her entire life, gave of herself her entire life and touched the world. Including New Jersey.

At the advice of Pope Leo XIII, who told Mother Cabrini to go “Not to the East, but to the West,” as she focused her missionary efforts on the United States. Accepting Archbishop Corrigan of New York’s invitation, she came to America and spent nearly 30 years traveling back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean as well as around the United States setting up orphanages, hospitals, convents, and schools for the often marginalized Italian immigrants.

She eventually crossed the Hudson River and came to Newark to start teaching the poor Italian immigrant children. In 1899, Newark Monsignor, Ernesto D’Aquila contacted Mother Cabrini who began the parochial school first in the basement of the old Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Ferry and McWhorter streets and later moved the school to two adjoining store fronts.

“Everything was lacking, there were no comforts of any kind, but there were Italian sisters who spoke their language. The children sensed that they were loved by them and were happy and faithful to their poor classrooms. Soon attendance rose to 200, then 300, then 400. Many had no desks, no chairs, but it wasn’t important, they (the children) were at the school of the Italian sisters and this was enough for them.”
~Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini

Eventually, St. Frances became a naturalized U.S. citizen. She died in 1917 and was canonized in 1946, just before a new wave of immigrants began to arrive in the U.S. She is the patron saint of immigrants as well as the Italian American Apostolate of the Archdiocese of Newark.

The movie Cabrini will be released on March 8th in theaters nationwide. There is no better date for this picture’s release than International Women’s Day.

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