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She Really Did Build NYC: Brooklyn Honors Mother Cabrini, Despite the City

Rally and mass at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary - St. Stephen Catholic Church, shows support for America’s first ordained saint, protector of migrants

Mother Cabrini image in the Church in Brooklyn

Mother Frances Cabrini, the Patron Saint of Immigrants, and an Italian immigrant herself who founded 67 institutions to help the poor and the ill, finished first place in the city-wide poll lead by Chirlane McCray’s “She Built NYC” statue program. The program is a public-arts campaign seeking to increase the number of statues of pioneering women in New York City, and honoring them by commissioning statues to celebrate their remarkable contributions to New York City and elsewhere. While Mother Cabrini won first place with the most votes — 219 nominations went to the patron saint of immigrants– she wasn’t selected as one of the top seven women to have a statue built in their honor.

Sponsored by the Italian Ministry of the Diocese of Brooklyn,  a procession beginning at 3:00 pm in Cabrini Park on President Street in Brooklyn, and a subsequent mass for the intention of all immigrants at Sacred Hearts – St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church were held to honor the contributions that Mother Cabrini made to the New York City community during her lifetime. Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, presided over the mass. More than 1,000 people, including many Italian-Americans, participated in the march in Carroll Gardens that was followed by the mass to show their love and support for America’s first ordained saint.

A turnout of this proportion demonstrates that the march and the Mass proved testimony to Mother Cabrini’s work, and to the many lives that she touched. Her service and devotion to this city’s and to this country’s poor and sick took place more than 100 years ago. Yet, on Sunday, participants were out rallying for her in great numbers — a gesture that speaks to how important Mother Cabrini was – and is – to this city and its citizens.

In a press release by the Diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop Di Marzio stated: “Mother Frances Cabrini was certainly one of the women who built New York City. Her work to establish orphanages, schools and a hospital, along with her commitment to immigrants, absolutely should be recognized. The failure to honor Mother Cabrini with a public statue would be an affront to many New Yorkers, especially Italian-Americans, who see her as most deserving”.

The Diocese is collaborating with Brooklyn Borough President and mayoral hopeful, Eric Adams, to have Mother Cabrini honored with a statue to be erected in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall using funds raised by the community. Fundraising efforts are underway — the diocese states it has already raised $17,000 for a Mother Cabrini statue, and it plans to move forward with or without the city’s support.

Anyone interested in making a donation for the commissioning of Mother Cabrini’s statue may do so using the following link to the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens  

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