St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, who was called “Mother Cabrini” during her life, was a humble woman of great faith and fortitude, who stayed with her mission. She was refused entrance to the religious order that had educated her. So she began working at an orphanage, eventually becoming a sister in the religious order that ran it. She later became their prioress. She went to New York intending to found an orphanage there. The house they were to use turned out not to be available, and the bishop advised her to return to Italy. But she stayed, and eventually founded not only that one orphanage, but 67 institutions dedicated to caring for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick. She died at Columbus hospital in Chicago, which she also founded. She was the first American citizen to be canonized a saint.
Like St. Paul, Mother Cabrini would never have given up on someone like Onesimus. She would see his potential and nurture his faith, as St. Paul did for Onesimus. What a joy it is when a person like that who has been so beautifully nurtured in faith turns out to be a blessing to people. That kind of thing happens all the time when teachers and catechists and parents nurture children and call forth their giftedness. How many young people have grown up to bless their corner of the world because some adult in their lives saw something special in them.
This is the kind of ministry of teaching and healing that was always so special to Mother Cabrini. She was known to be a tough lady who got things done, obviously so based on all the institutions she birthed into existence. As the Psalmist reminds us today, the Lord secures justice for the oppressed, lets captives go free, gives sight to the blind, raises up those bent low, and all the rest. So we are called to echo that action in what we do. We may not found 67 institutions, but we can certainly affect those entrusted to our care right here in this little corner of the world.
Mother Cabrini, pray for us.