(Washington, D.C. – September 17, 2019) – The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) supports the life and works of Saint and Sister Francesca Xavier Cabrini, also known as Mother Cabrini. America’s first ordained saint, Mother Cabrini was summoned by the Pope to help the flood of Italian immigrants pouring into America in 1889. While in New York City, she opened 67 social service agencies across the city as well as orphanages, missionaries, day schools, classes in religious education, a nursery, a hospital, and much more. Despite Mother Cabrini’s devoted public service to the city’s poor and her popularity among New York City residents still today, she has been denied an honorary statue by the “She Built NYC Project.”
The mission of the “She Built NYC Project” is to create more statues of women installed around the city. A public vote was held to select the top female candidates to have honorary statues. Mother Cabrini obtained the most votes with 219 votes, winning by a two-to-one margin and clearly defining her as the winner as the second runner up came in with 93 votes. The wife of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chirlane McCray, leads the project. After the poll was taken, McCray formed a panel to review the results and make its own recommendations on the seven winners to be memorialized. The project is funded by about $5 million in taxpayer money.
The “She Built NYC Project” is ignoring the poll results and instead choosing to build statues of jazz legend Billie Holiday, desegregation activist Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Latina doctor Helen Rodriguez Trias, LGBTQ advocate Sylvia Rivera, America’s first black congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Stonewall uprising transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, and Robbins Reef Lighthouse keeper who saved at least 50 shipwreck and boat accident victims, Katherine Walker.
In the poll, Holiday, Graham, Trias and Rivera were not in the top seven, but the panel selected them anyway.
“Mother Cabrini’s contribution to New York City and her legacy are indisputable. The services she provided to poor and vulnerable Italian immigrants, most of them women, should not be ignored,” said NIAF Chair Patricia de Stacy Harrison. “On behalf of the National Italian American Foundation, we support Mother Cabrini’s life and works and believe that she should have her own honorary statue in the city.”
“Descendants of Italian immigrants that Mother Cabrini helped still live in the city and the fact that a poll by the people whose taxpayer dollars are funding these statues is being ignored is undemocratic and disappointing. The ‘She Built NYC Project’ should reverse its decision and include a statue honoring Mother Cabrini,” said NIAF Chair Gabriel A. Battista.
In order to publicly honor and acknowledge Mother Cabrini for her faith and social service, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio from the Diocese of Brooklyn will lead a procession on Sunday, October 6, 2019. The procession will begin from Mother Cabrini Park (41 President Street, Brooklyn NY 11231) at 3 p.m. and will end at Sacred Heart — St. Stephen Church (125 Summit Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231) for Mass at 4 p.m. for the intention of all immigrants.
For questions related to the procession, or press inquiries, please contact John Heyer II at jheyer@CFBQ.org or 718-965-7300 ext.1602, 917-402-9086.