National News

Pope Francis Sends Letter for Centennial Celebration of Mother Cabrini in Chicago

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is depicted in a stained-glass window at the saint’s shrine chapel in the Washington Heights section of New York City. The chapel adjoins Mother Cabrini High School, an all-girls college preparatory school the saint founded in 1899, which will close at the endof the academic year. (Photo: Catholic News Service/Gregory A. Shemitz) 

By Christopher White
The Tablet National Correspondent

Pope Francis has sent a letter to the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as they mark the centennial of the death of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Chicago this week.

The Italian-born Mother Cabrini, as she is widely known, founded the missionary congregation in 1880 in support of immigrants moving to the United States from Italy.

She died in Chicago in 1917 after dedicating her life’s work to immigrants in Italy, France, Spain, Great Britain, the United States, Central America, Argentina and Brazil.

“The charism of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini enlivened a total and intelligent dedication to the immigrants who left Italy for the New World,” wrote Pope Francis.

“In particular, the Saint focused attention on situations of greatest poverty and fragility such as the needs of orphans and miners. She combined that with a lucid cultural sensitivity by continuous dialogue with local authorities,” he continued.

This is not the first time Francis has pointed to the example of Cabrini. In his 2017 address for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, he noted the centennial of her death.

“This courageous sister dedicated her life to bringing the love of Christ to those who were far from their homeland and families,” he said in a January audience in St. Peter’s Square.

The example of Mother Cabrini can help us “to take care of our foreign brother, in whom Jesus is present, often suffering, rejected and humiliated,” he added.

The General Assembly for the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is taking place at the National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini in Chicago from Sept. 17 to 23.

Attention to the plight of immigrants has been a dominant theme throughout this pontificate. In his letter to the assembly, Pope Francis praised the congregation for their efforts toward the cause that was of “special concern” to him.

“The great migrations underway today need guidance filled with love and intelligence similar to what characterizes the Cabrinian charism,” he wrote.

“In this way the meeting of peoples will enrich all and generate union and dialogue, not separation and hostility. Nor must we forget that the missionary sensitivity of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini was not sectorial but universal; that is the vocation of every Christian and of every community of the disciples of Jesus.”