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Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini was born in Italy and travelled to the United States in 1889 to serve the Italian immigrants in America. Since the age of 8, Mother Frances Cabrini had dreams of becoming a missionary in China. However, at the urging of Pope Leo XIII, she came to New York.
Between 1880 and 1900, there were large groups of emigrants leaving Italy for America every week, to escape the poverty caused by disease and natural disasters. Pope Leo knew of the hardships of the immigrants, their long and difficult journeys, their poverty, the loss of their homes, and the discriminations they faced. This mission to act in loving service and be a voice for the voiceless became dear to the heart of Mother Frances Cabrini. Wherever the Italian immigrants went, she and her sisters followed.
Driven by the belief that kindness and hospitality to strangers is the core of her identity in Christ, she founded orphanages, schools, hospitals, and other institutions to attend to the spiritual and materials needs of the immigrants. Jesus says in Matthew 25, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you comforted me, in prison and you came to visit me… I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.”
When war broke out in Ukraine in February of 2022, I was living in Europe and watched busload after busload of tired Ukrainian refugees arrive. A sports arena across from my apartment building was converted into a refugee center. From my 5th floor kitchen window, I saw refugees arriving with their young children and elderly parents. Some even picked up unaccompanied children and teenagers along the way. Some made it with their pets, but many did not.
One night, I saw an elderly lady hold on to the chain link fence separating the refugee center from the adjacent construction site… perhaps to take a breath, or to take a moment to understand the situation and accept the challenges ahead of her at her advanced age.
We pray for peace, an end to wars and harmony among nations. Until that happens, I think of Mother Frances Cabrini and her kindness towards immigrants, strangers, and refugees. I myself have been an immigrant a few times in my life. While I have never been a refugee, I have recently witnessed their sense of helplessness. Mother Frances Cabrini reminds me that peace can begin with me in the form of comfort and loving service that I can bring to others.
Peace on earth, and goodwill to men.
Jane is a lover of foreign places, accents, comfort foods, long travel, and a simple life. She enjoys following animals on social media and listening to spy or fantasy novels on long walks and long runs. She currently lives in Allen, Texas with her husband.