November 14

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Reflection

Yesterday was the feast of Frances Xavier Cabrini, an immigrant, who was the first naturalized American citizen to be proclaimed a saint.

Maria Francesca Cabrini was born in Sant’ Angelo Lodigiano, Lombardy, Italy.  She wanted to become a nun but was hindered by poor health. Eventually she took vows and later founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. She planned to found a convent in China, but Pope Leo XIII directed her to “go west, not east,” and she and six of her Missionary Sisters landed in New York in early 1889. Unable to speak English and lacking a place to stay, she and her Sisters endured many of the same problems suffered by immigrants now. Her work in the United States was concentrated among the neglected Italian immigrants. She saw possibilities and gave hope to those desperately seeking help by providing assistance in their material and spiritual needs. Mother Cabrini founded many schools, hospitals, and orphanages in the United States, England, France, Spain and South America. In New York City, she founded Columbus Hospital and Italian Hospital which merged into Cabrini Hospital In the 1980’s. Her inspiration and genuine love not only changed lives, but saved them. She is only one example of what immigrants have done to build this nation.

Prayer

Come Holy Spirit, fill us with generosity as we are challenged to allow others to share with us the goods and beauty of this nation.

Action

Examine your own prejudices about immigrants. Consider your own family history. Reflect on what we proclaim about ourselves as a nation and our national history. What should your attitudes be?

Suggested Reading

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews 13:2 

We recognize the phenomenon of migration as an authentic sign of the times. We see it in …the suffering of those who have been forced to become migrants for many reasons. To such a sign we must respond in common and creative ways so that we may strengthen the faith, hope, and charity of migrants and all the People of God. Such a sign is a call to transform national and international social, economic, and political structures so that they may provide the conditions required for the development for all, without exclusion and discrimination against any person in any circumstance.
Strangers No Longer, USCCB

The Church must, therefore, welcome all persons regardless of race, culture, language, and nation with joy, charity, and hope. It must do so with special care for those who find themselves–regardless of motive–in situations of poverty, marginalization, and exclusion.
Strangers No Longer, USCCB

Our Catholic faith and the missions of many of our Religious Institutes emphasize the welcoming of strangers and taking the side of those who are marginalized by society. These religious values impel us to speak for a better immigration policy. Our present system of immigration laws is unsustainable, and the need for reform is urgent. Clearly the United States has the right to control its borders, but we are a welcoming people, and hospitality has always been a core Gospel value. We need an immigration reform that expresses our deepest values and calls forth the best that is in us.
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

In our faith response to welcome the stranger among us, we urge Congress and the Administration to work for an immigration system that respects the dignity of every person. Our Catholic tradition emphasizes that all persons, regardless of their legal status, possess inherent human dignity that should be respected. The basic human rights of persons who are undocumented need to be respected in all government policies.
Federation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph

We commit ourselves to the cut-across issue of immigration. We are aware of attitudes and policies concerning immigration that harm the communities in which we live and minister. We believe that we have spheres of influence that can transform this reality so we welcome the stranger and work toward systemic change.
Sisters of Saint Joseph, Brentwood, NY

 

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