A Person of Her Time, A Saint for All Time

The pervasive sentiment among Cabrinian writers is that our namesake Saint is “not very quotable.” The common explanation for this (as if this is a flaw to be explained) is something usually to do with Mother Cabrini being “a woman of action, not of words,” or thereabouts.

How very saintly, if only a half-truth. She is quite quotable at moments, while at other moments, her dogged bluntness feels unsettling.

This frankness is only problematic if we hold fast to the childish misbelief that a saint’s life—especially a female saint—is a soft, passive life of quiet suffering. Or if we succumb to the maternal narrative that female saints encounter an abusive, abrasive world with downcast eyes and sotto voce prayers. I.e., all sanctity, not tenacity.

That is not how most saints lived.  Few nuns in the modern era could be accused of passivity.  Mother Cabrini did not speak sotto voce.

In 1901, to the Commissioner General of Emigration, Mother Cabrini wrote:

In acknowledging receipt of your esteemed letter No 7399-30 of the current month, I wish to thank you for informing me of the impressions which were communicated regarding my orphanage in New Orleans. I use the word “impressions,” but perhaps I should say the superficial evaluation made by an inexperienced observer…When all is said and done, Honorable Commissioner, words are easy.”

Mother Cabrini’s pen was as active as any modern-era saint and she left her biographers and global admirers voluminous written source material to parse. Therefore, the lack of “quotable Cabrini” speaks more about us than her.

In her business writings, she was respectful, but more honest than is acceptable today. In regards to a request for 500,000 lire for Columbus Hospital, New York, Mother Cabrini writes to an Italian legislator, “Now permit me, Honorable Senator, with all frankness to tell you what I think.” She goes on to say “…fear and quibbling, which are the fruits of bureaucracy, certainly not of elect minds.”

Protestantism too was not excused from her candor. “She did not live in an ecumenical age,” said Mary Louise Sullivan, MSC, Ph.D., ’63, in her biography of the Saint. “It was a time of real competition for souls. Having been brought up in a Catholic household in a nominally Catholic country, the diversity of religious beliefs which she was encountering for the first time was overwhelming to her.”

In such a context, a prayer she wrote while in New York in 1889 seems not harsh but almost bland: “I will offer all my suffering and deprivations to obtain the conversion of so many Protestant ministers residing in this City.”

There was an equal weariness of agnostic practices. “Take religion away from man,” Mother Cabrini said, “and nothing remains in this life but illusions, trials, and afflictions without number.” And, “Rebellions and seditions arise from lack of religion.”

The list could go on. The Saint’s perceived political incorrectness, however, is only a perception.  She was not insensitive in her place and time and her candor is not a shortcoming.  To think otherwise is a simple case of ahistoricism.

Like all Saints, Mother Cabrini was a person of her time, even if a saint for all time.

And the Cabrinian writers who lament Mother Cabrini’s less-than quotable pen are just lazily accepting an untested hypothesis.  While she might not have had the poetic flare of Francis of Assisi or St. Therese of Lisieux, spend just a few moments in her writings and you discover a woman who said, “Blessed will you be, if acknowledging the gifts of God, you render yourselves more worthy to receive greater gifts.” And a saint who said, “Live by faith and you will see God.”

By Christopher Grosso, Senior Writer, Cabrini College






Posted in Mother Cabrini's Philosophy of Living

Pope Francis’ 10 Tips for a Happier Life

In a July 31, 2014 interview with the Argentine publication Viva, Pope Francis issued a list of 10 tips to be a happier person, based on his own life experiences. The Pope encouraged people to be more positive and generous, to turn off the TV and find healthier forms of leisure, and even to stop trying to convert people to one’s own religion. But his number one piece of advice came in the form of a somewhat cliché Italian phrase that means, “move forward and let others do the same.” It’s basically the Italian equivalent of, “live and let live.”

The Pope’s 10 Tips for a Happier Life

  1. “Live and let live.”Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, “Move forward and let others do the same.”
  2. “Be giving of yourself to others.”People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”
  3. “Proceed calmly” in life.The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist — gaucho Don Segundo Sombra — looks back on how he lived his life.
  4. A healthy sense of leisure.The Pope said “consumerism has brought us anxiety”, and told parents to set aside time to play with their children and turn of the TV when they sit down to eat.
  5. Sundays should be holidays.Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.
  6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people.“We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs” and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.
  7. Respect and take care of nature.Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?’”
  8. Stop being negative.“Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, ‘I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,’” the Pope said. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy.”
  9. Don’t proselytise; respect others’ beliefs.“We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyses: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytising,” the Pope said.
  10. Work for peace.“We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.

Courtesy of the Catholic News Service.

Submitted by: Sharon Shipley Zubricky ‘76

Posted in Our Catholic Faith, Uncategorized

Reflecting on an Education of the Heart: Gina Scarpello

When asked to describe what the phrase “Education of the Heart” means to her, Gina Scarpello, Director, Cabrini Mission Corps, said: “An education of the heart means learning through practice how to be in loving relationship with God, ourselves and others. It means coming to 
believe deeply that we each have something unique and valuable to offer the world with our lives – both in our everyday moments and in the “big” choices we make in life. It means discovering more and more each day: who we are, the gifts God continually gives us, and the deep joy that comes with mutual sharing of ourselves and our gifts with one another.”

Submitted by Lisa A. Ratmansky, Director, Center for Teaching & Learning

Posted in Community Reflections, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition at work in Manhattan’s Lower East Side

Vincent Van Gogh is quoted as saying, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” This is certainly true about the issue of human trafficking. It will take  all of us doing something, even if it is small, to create a worldwide impact. This week, the Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition (CAAC) focused on the little things we can do in our own neighborhoods.

Strengthened by the prayers of the Sisters at Sacred Heart Convent in Manhattan, Sr. Gina Morselli, MSC and CMC Missioner Melanie Paccillo walked the streets and parks of the Lower East Side putting Polaris Project posters on community bulletin boards. This simple event was designed to inform members of the local community about human trafficking.

Together Sister Gina and Melanie put up over 30 posters that included information as well as the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline (1-888-3737-888).

People walking through the East River Park were seen reading the posters.


If you would like to replicate this project in your neighborhood, posters can be downloaded and printed at home from www.polarisproject.org Click on resources, outreach and awareness materials. Remember, the first small step can lead to miles of social change.

by CMC missioner Melanie Paccillo for the MSC’s Weekly Update, September 25, 20014

Posted in Together on the Journey: News from the Missionary Sisters | Leave a comment

An Alumna Reflects on the Curriculum

This week’s post is provided by Clare Pressimone, ’14.  Clare is heading to Cambodia this November where she’ll serve as a Salesian Lay Missioner.

Five years ago I was on track to becoming the next Indiana Jones (with less emphasis on the fighting and more emphasis on the recovering and discovering of integral artifacts to human history); but soon into my education I realized that something else was calling my name. That something was social justice. I immediately started looking for an institution that would help me answer this call, not entirely sure what program I was looking for, but with some guidance and familial connections I found Cabrini College and deciding to enroll, I was accepted into the Social Work Department for the Spring semester of 2012.

An integral value of the social work profession is social justice, making it an obvious and comfortable degree to pursue. According to SocialWorkers.org, over 300 colleges and universities in the United States have social work programs, therefore many schools could have fulfilled my vocation to get involved in the pursuit of social justice. So why Cabrini College?

When I was deciding where I would continue my college education, I found out about the social justice curriculum at Cabrini College called Justice Matters. The Justice Matters curriculum is an amazing tool that prepares students in every major to look beyond themselves and begin to analyze what impact they can have on the world, both as an educated individual and as a contributing member of society. The aspiring educators, mathematicians, psychologists, scientists, social workers, communicators, are brought together not just as classmates, but as collaborators for the common good. The Engagements of the Common Good (ECG) classes range in topics and therefore allow students the opportunity to explore different realms of justice and learn about a wide array of issues that are having a major impact on the world. This is what drew me to Cabrini College, why I committed my life to her mission during my time as a student, and why as a graduate I am working to spread this mission of justice throughout the world. I realized that Cabrini College recognized the great potential in each of the students to change the world, motivating each one to get involved in social justice across their curriculum.

When I began at Cabrini, the Justice Matters curriculum opened my eyes to the world’s potential to be a place of development, equality, and union. I learned that I have a lot more power to counter the distress of the world then I ever could have imagined. I gained valuable skills as an ECG student such as lobbying in legislators’ offices, researching global issues, collaborating with students, faculty and staff on educational projects, gaining first-hand experience and knowledge of how different groups interact and operate, expanding advocacy knowledge and awareness, and so much more. The Justice Matters curriculum, and Cabrini College’s overall commitment to social justice, created an atmosphere of motivation which nurtured my desire to encounter justice and to participate in creating a fully just society.

I graduated in May of this year armed with a greater understanding of a critical truth. Cabrini College has realized this truth as essential to the success and survival of this world: that justice matters. Headed off to Cambodia with the Salesian Lay Missioners to teach English, dedicated to spreading a message that can be used to serve and empower the vulnerable, forgotten, and marginalized of this global society, I am ready to take on the problems of the world and strive to ensure that justice is realized for all.

Posted in Justice Matters, Our Singular Curriculum