November 13

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

St. Frances Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants. An immigrant herself, she embodied the strength of the immigrant women she served. Pope Leo XIII had suggested to her that she go to the United States to help the Italian immigrants who were pouting into the country, mostly in great poverty. She founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, a religious institute that was a major support to the Italian immigrants to the United States. 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 of this country.  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?

Suggested Reading

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.
Leviticus 19:33-34

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.
Matthew 25:35

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

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.
Barack Obama 

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.
Ami Bera

Our immigration system is a broken system that needs to be fixed. We need reform that provides hardworking people of good character with a real path towards citizenship.
Joe Baca

 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.
James Madison

Stopping illegal immigration would mean that wages would have to rise to a level where Americans would want the jobs currently taken by illegal aliens.
Thomas Sowell