When Mother Cabrini arrived in Denver in 1902, her mission was to minister to the children of immigrant miners. In Colorado, the Italian immigrants were primarily engaged in coal mining, an industry which experienced a large number of fatalities. The Bishop of Denver, Bishop Nicholas Matz, recognized the plight of the children and welcomed Mother Cabrini and her sisters. Mother Cabrini and her Missionary Sisters opened the Mount Carmel School in Denver in 1902. The above picture is from the Denver Times Monday evening November 17, 1902. The caption speaks to the growing number of orphans and gives a glimpse into how the Italian Immigrants were regarded in the early 20th century.
The caption reads: “Two hundred little tots in gala array assembled in the new school building of Our Lady of Mount Carmel this morning to be presented to Bishop Matz and to do honor to Fr. Lepore and the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The new mission school is Fr. Lepore’s pride, and not even the parents of the dark-eyed babies in white dresses and satin slippers with Sunday ribbons a-fly-ing or the sturdy little chaps in velvet knickerbockers or blue overalls were filled with greater delight than he at the fine showing made by the roomful of foreign-looking faces. Bishop Matz in the part of his address to the parents dwelt on the fact that previous to the opening of this mission the 200 little ones had been scattered from one end of Denver to the other, many of them attending no school at all. He besought them to remember that while the children were to become true American citizens, speaking English intelligently and fluently, that they were not to forget the music, the sentiment, the pathos of the mother country and mother tongue. The Missionary Sisters, some of whom speak only Italian while others are equally at ease in English, were counseled to keep before them the finest traits of the two races and combine them for the children’s best good. Fr. Lepore is confident that from a beginning of 200 the Italian mission school will grow to 1000 or 1800 and that the building which is still fresh with new paint, will some day, and that before very long, be replaced with a much more commodious and convenient structure.”
Submitted by: A. Schwelm, Assistant Library Director