St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
St. Frances Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants. Pope Leo XIII suggested to her that she go to the United States to help the Italian immigrants, mostly in great poverty, who were pouting into the country. An immigrant herself, she embodied the strength of the immigrant women she served. She founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, a religious institute that was a major support to these immigrants. Her sisters provided schools and health care to those who were often not welcomed and whose voices and needs were ignored. During her lifetime she founded 67 institutions: in New York; Chicago; Des Plaines, Illinois; Seattle; New Orleans; Denver; Golden, Colorado; Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. Mother Cabrini was the first naturalized citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Her life and work are extremely relevant at this time when immigrants have once again become a major political issue. She and those whom she helped to move into meaningful lives are a witness to the richness and contributions of immigrants who make up the complex history of this country. Mother Cabrini died in 1917 and in the hundred years since her death, the descendants of the immigrants she served have enriched this country in all professions, politics, the arts, music and as contributing citizens. Her example speaks to us at this moment of national stress.
May we imitate the compassion and concern of Mother Cabrini in our attitudes toward immigrants.
Reflect on your own heritage. How were your ancestors treated when they came to this country? Why did they come? What contribution have people of your heritage made to this country? Assess the attitudes toward immigrants today? Where do you stand?
When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
This is a nation that no single ethnic group or privileged economic class “owns. It’s a country where a person who comes from nowhere can still make a difference.
Pope Francis at Independence Hall 2015
We call upon all people of good will, but Catholics especially, to welcome the newcomers in their neighborhoods and schools, in their places of work and worship, with heartfelt hospitality, openness, and eagerness both to help and to learn from our brothers and sisters of whatever religion, ethnicity, or background. Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity, A Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops
As Catholics we are called to take concrete measures to overcome the misunderstanding, ignorance, competition, and fear that stand in the way of genuinely welcoming the stranger in our midst and enjoying the communion that is our destiny as Children of God. Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity, A Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops
Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.
John F. Kennedy
My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.
America was born as a nation of immigrants who have always contributed to its greatness.
Charles B. Rangel
Our nation is built upon a history of immigration, dating back to our first pioneers, the Pilgrims. For more than three centuries, we have welcomed generations of immigrants to our melting pot of hyphenated America: British-Americans; Italian-Americans; Irish-Americans; Jewish-Americans; Mexican-Americans; Chinese-Americans; Indian-Americans.
What has happened to us in this country? If we study our own history, we find that we have always been ready to receive the unfortunate from other countries, and though this may seem a generous gesture on our part, we have profited a thousand fold by what they have brought us.
America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.
People come here penniless but not cultureless. They bring us gifts. We can synthesize the best of our traditions with the best of theirs. We can teach and learn from each other to produce a better America.