In 1890, Mother Cabrini purchased a property from the Jesuits. Located 90 miles north of New York City and opposite Poughkeepsie, on the west bank of the Hudson River, the Jesuits used the property for their novitiate but grew tired of hauling water from the river. Because water was not available on the site, Mother Cabrini purchased it for less than it was worth and there established the first orphanage in the United States. In a dream, Mother saw a spring near the property entrance. When doubting workers were directed to dig in a spot just up the main road, they were surprised to find a spring. The spring supplies water to this day. The Sacred Heart Orphan Asylum at West Park became home to over 200 girls who were instructed in basic courses as well as embroidery and cooking. In 1914, Mother Cabrini visited the orphanage and “rode horseback part of the way up the mountain and continued on foot to the hightest rock to survey the entire property from an excellent vantage point.” The original orphanage was converted to a residential treatment center for adolescent boys and girls, with the first boys arriving in 1968. Though the West Park facility is no longer a home for troubled youth, having closed in spring 2011, the site hosts the OASES Clinic, an outpatient alcohol and substance abuse program. The Missionary Sisters continue to have administrative offices at ‘Cabrini on the Hudson’. Like Mother Cabrini who wished to be buried in West Park, the property continues as the final resting place for many Missionary Sisters. Our college’s foundress, Sr. Ursula Infante is buried at West Park.
Source: Mother Cabrini Italian Immigrant of the Century by Sr. Mary Louise Sullivan, MSC. © 1992