Our Youth

Let Them Speak: Praying Twice for Mother Cabrini

High school sophomore Diana Marie Paunetto sang “Ave Maria” on the Diocese of Brooklyn float during the Columbus Day Parade in Manhattan. She said Mother Cabrini holds a special place in her family’s life. (Photo: Ed Wilkinson)

By Diana Marie Paunetto, Student Writer

On one of the most historically rich days of our Italian community, I was fortunate to be on the diocesan float with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and the Mother Cabrini statue that was presented to our community in a procession and Mass which I had attended with my mother and many of the proud religious organizations.

This Mass took place at Sacred Hearts and St. Stephen Church in Carroll Gardens — the church my family attended when they first arrived in the United States. With the statue being a large part of the recent news and with much controversy, I was honored to share the float with such an amazing role model and heroine.

My way of showing my devotion to her was through singing. As we approached St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, I watched the many people raising their flags and shouting “Viva Mother Cabrini.” Growing up in an Italian household, I was familiar with her story and how she had helped our ancestors settle into the new world.

My great-grandmother Maria Carolina De Rose had a beautiful statue in her bedroom and would pray daily to her. That statue was given to the eldest daughter, my great Aunt Josephine, and is proudly displayed on the mantle in her home for all of us to see.

Her legacy must live on as a reminder of her immense achievements and her selflessness to help the people around her adjust to their new lives. Now, more than ever, Mother Cabrini connects with our society because she is a mentor for all who wish to help their communities, and she influenced many ideas of the modern world.

Mother Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants. She built orphanages, schools and hospitals. These institutions helped everyone in the community and spread throughout the United States.

Her story must live on through her statue and the teachings that she brought to the Italian-American communities. As we approached St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I sang “Ave Maria,” and it was more meaningful for me than I ever could’ve imagined. 

I once heard that when we sing, we pray twice. For the Columbus Day Parade this year, I sang twice, and the experience was unforgettable.