Twenty three staff members attended the Cabrini College mission institute on March 5-6, 2012. The two day institute which takes place on campus and in New York City, orients staff to the Cabrinian legacy and charism, introduces Catholic social teaching, which is the basis for the College’s Justice Matters core curriculum, emphasizes our partnerships, and promotes dialog, prayer, and reflection. On day one, College President, Dr. Marie George officially opened the Institute with a warm welcome. Staff had fun playing Cabrini Jeopardy which prompted us for answers to a variety of questions on St. Frances Cabrini, the core curriculum, and several College firsts. Stephen Eberle, Interim Director of the Wolfington Center introduced Catholic Social Teaching and provided the scriptural and ecclesial basis. Academic Dean, Dr. Jeff Gingerich spoke on Justice Matters emphasizing the “Engagements with the Common Good” series of courses. Lunch was introduced by dining services manager, Drew Nieman, who explained that the delicious menu was created by using integral fair trade ingredients. After lunch, Sr. Christine Marie Baltas, MSC, told the captivating life story of Mother Cabrini and Nancy Costello showed us how we are a part of an international network by explaining the governance and leadership of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. After a tour of the Cabriniana room to see the relics and ephemera of St. Frances Cabrini, and a brief introduction to the Justice Matters web portal, our group went on a shuttle tour of Norristown, PA. One of the College’s partners, Norristown is the home to many organizations and agencies where our students participate in service. Our shuttle stopped at Catholic Social Services (CSS) where we got a tour of the food pantry and learned about the many outreach services that CSS provides. Day one ended with a prayer service in the campus chapel of St Joseph.
On the second day, participants traveled to New York City. The first stop was the St. Frances Cabrini Shrine where there was an opportunity for individual prayer and reflection. The Principal of Mother Cabrini High School, Kerry Schmid, graciously guided our group on an hour long tour of the High School. We visited the library, the cafeteria, the newly remodeled computer lab, and had a brief visit with High School President, Mr. Bruce Segall. The tour was followed by lunch in the retreat room. After lunch we enjoyed the Shrine gift shop, the grounds of the High School, sitting on Mother Cabrini’s bench, and then walking down Cabrini Boulevard to Ft. Tryon Park. At 2pm, it was off to the Tenement Museum where we played the part of a 1916 new immigrant family searching for our first home. During the dramatization, our family of ‘greenhorns’ got help from Victoria Confino, a 14-year-old immigrant living in the tenement at 97 Orchard Street. The Tenement Museum experience took us back to the time of Mother Cabrini and we pictured she and her good Sisters walking Orchard Street providing relief to the immigrants. The Institute culminated with a special dinner with six Missionary Sisters who reside in New York. Held at Capucine’s Restaurant, we delighted in seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones while breaking bread with Sr. Antonia Avitabile, Sr. Mary Louise Sullivan, Sr. Lucille Souza, Sr. Mary Lou Andes, and Sr. Bernadette Casciano. All participants were especially grateful to Sr. Mary Lou Andes who personally inscribed copies of her book, St. Frances Xavier Cecchina’s Dream. To sum up, the Staff Mission Institute was two educational, exhilarating, if not exhausting days which touched each of us in a very special way.
Submitted by: Anne Schwelm, Assistant Library Director