On February 21st, Cabrini College honored the legacy of Sister Ursula Infante, MSC (1897-2001) with the annual Founders Day celebration. This year, on February 18th, Sister Ursula would have turned 115. Founders Day traditionally has welcomed community leaders, educators and activists to present on a topic of social justice, however, this year, the College paid tribute to its founding president, who served in the leadership role from 1957-1967. On campus, the Mansion foyer was transformed into an interactive gallery filled with archival items about the College and Sister Ursula. On display were yearbooks, photographs, student handbooks and even an original white blazer, with the Cabrini crest emblazoned over the heart, that all students were required to wear when the College first opened. The exhibit also included personal items of the woman born Anna Lawrence in New York. President Marie George, Ph.D., spoke of how Mother Ursula, with little financial resources during the College’s early years, used ingenuity, business savvy, and even a little psychology to provide for her students. “Mother Ursula was one-of-a-kind,” Dr. George said. “Operating on a shoestring budget, she inked in bare spots on the Mansion carpets, wrangled used organs from the famous Philadelphia department store John Wanamaker and borrowed fancy carpets from a nearby rug dealer for special campus events so often that he finally just gave one to her!” Professor of Philosophy Joseph Romano, Ph.D., who joined the faculty of Cabrini College in 1960, reflected on his relationship with the influential and persuasive Mother Ursula. He laughingly recalled how Mother Ursula, upon learning that he had minored in physics as an undergraduate, convinced the philosophy professor that he was qualified to lead and develop the College’s science department. Former Alumni Board President Claire Roth ’69 and Trustee Nancy Gorevin Costello ’71 also shared touching student memories of Mother Ursula. “We were supposed to apply to room with our friends for the following year,” said Roth. “Mother Ursula quoted the Gospel: ‘Ask and ye shall receive’; and then quickly followed it up with, ‘but you might not always get it!’” Student Cathy Matta ’13, a dual major in math and English and member of the Cabrini Theatre, performed a dramatic reading of Mother Ursula’s letter, “A Day to Remember.” The letter, written in 1985 on the 70th anniversary of Mother Ursula’s entrance into the Missionary Sisters, highlights her experience as one of the last women personally welcomed into the order by Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini in 1915. More information about Mother Ursula Infante is available through the Holy Spirit Library’s Archives page.
~text by Dan DiPrinzio for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Weekly Update, March 8, 2012.