Mother Cabrini was canonized on july 7, 1946, and so I thought it only fitting that I dedicate this entry to her. Here goes!
Mother Cabrini, whenever you come up in conversation, which has been quite often in the approximate last two weeks that I have been home, I can not help but say, “dude, I swear, mother cabrini is still alive – she’s still present to us!” and that, is really how it has been.
Meeting with sister regina up in Burbank a couple of days ago was so refreshing. It was so good to be around an MSC and to hear all of her stories. She told me the story of how the large conference room/hall ended up being named and dedicated to Mother Cabrini…she told me about the Lenten meal that she prepared for those who came, and instead of a traditional soup kitchen that typically ended up like a pseudo soup competition, she fed them simple meals out of empty tuna cans and empty soup cans. She told me about how she would sometimes light the biggest candles for her petitions, hoping that that would make a difference with her prayer. She introduced me to the term, “cabrini-ize.” She said something like, “you know, he had no idea that he was about to get cabrini-ized – I was gonna show him Mother Cabrini’s ways of boldness. You know, I tell people it’s like a mission of the big toe.” I didn’t really understand it at first, and then once she explained it, it made complete sense!
Basically, she said, “picture a door about to close, but a big toe keeping it open. No matter what – that toe is going to keep it from shutting – always getting your way somehow!” it immediately reminded me of mother cabrini’s boldness and zeal, and how that has influenced itself into the charism of the sisters and is so truthfully reflected when I hear stories of the sisters’ missions, even in the most terrible of times. When mother cabrini was denied upon first coming to new york, she stayed, and faithfully fulfilled her mission. When the sisters first arrived in the Philippines and were also denied, they stayed, were faithful, struggled a bit, a lot, and were able to set up the mission…the big toe strikes, still to this day. That’s for sure.
We recently received a new priest to our church, and my mom and I had the great privilege of having him over for breakfast. I woke up at my typical 10am that I have been waking up at during my time at home, and sure enough, call my mom to see where she is, and she picks up the phone, and all I hear is, “oh, Father, want to have breakfast at our house?” // “ok, sure!”…and there we have it! it was so great to hear about his background coming from a Burmese family, being initially raised in a Baptist family, and previously serving as a pastor at a parish in Missouri. He asked me about myself, and I told him I was a missionary with the Cabrini Sisters aka Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus…and he immediately responded, “I have a great devotion to Mother Cabrini.” I ran over to the statue that I got my mom of Mother Cabrini and the two children, and I got super excited, I showed it to him, as if to prove the validity of my statement. Haha! I would.
He told me that when he lived in Chicago, the parish he belonged to was St. Clement’s, which is where Mother Cabrini would go to church, and…eventually he was able to visit the Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, CO! apparently, when he was discerning priesthood, knowing that Mother Cabrini was the patroness of immigrants, he and his friend visited the Shrine, and he offered a dozen roses to Mother Cabrini, laying them at her statue, and asked for assistance if it be God’s will for him to be a priest. Later, he was ordained as a priest and on that day, his friend, who was not necessarily the most hardcore-believing Catholic said, “I know Mother Cabrini is real!”
it was great to hear this story, and I shared with him stories from the shrine at the high school in NY, and how mother cabrini found my mom first, then found me. it was a great start to a morning – just finding that connection, and seeing him get excited about the connection to mother cabrini, it was awesome!
Yesterday morning, I had the great privilege of attending the men’s club breakfast. This parish club meets every Wednesday for breakfast at 6:30am to share faith, dive into scripture, pray, and eat a delicious meal together. Throughout the past year of my mission in new york, the men’s club found out about my mission, through one of its leaders, mr. Thomas, who is also the neighbor down the street from my house, and since then, they have been sending me cards with prayers and love and support. To thank them, I brought them fruit that my mom so wonderfully prepared for them, in this huge basket. Mr. Thomas invited me to the breakfast and told me that the club wanted to hear stories from my mission and get updated on what I have been doing. Grateful, I came!
There were about 12 of them or so, and I had the awesome opportunity to share my mission story with them…I found myself just gushing with excitement and joy as I spoke about my past year, and one of the questions I received was, “what was one of your biggest challenges while you were there?” it was interesting to answer that question because at first, I was like, hmm…I really had to think about it, but I think the biggest challenge for me was just in the transition of the new way of living – living communally, and just adjusting. It was an awesome realization though when I was able to get in touch with the fact that, I didn’t feel like any challenge was super overwhelming or that there would be no way of redemption in any situation. There was always this faithfulness and this goodness that God provided me, almost immediately, always in every obstacle/situation, and that helped me, tremendously. Especially for my most impatient self. Sure there were days that were gross, but I knew that feeling wouldn’t last long. And even if it did, there was a peace there.
Other questions I got were, “what do your friends think?” it was great to answer this question because I was immediately overcome with gratitude. My bestest friends are so supportive of me, many of them do or have done the same time of ministry, sometimes in different capacities, but the hearts of my friends are in line and understanding of this choice that I have made in my life. and that is how I know I am surrounded by good people. Could not be more thankful!
Later that morning, I spent time talking with an old friend from our youth ministry days at the church – caught up, talked about his plight with discernment for the priesthood, and talked about the future of the church. It was such an enriching time filled with conversation that I was legitimately interested in having, and it is just so good to see that yes, our generation is still alive, still kickin’, and yes, we are involved in our faith! When I was at the men’s club breakfast, one of them told me that I was an inspiration and that I provided him with hope because until that morning, he was not confident in our generation within the church. That made me sad because I guess from my perspective, I see it firsthand – I see young people, lots of them, with the desire to be more involved, to really carry out the Gospel with their feet…but I do suppose there is that gap and lack of communication among older and younger generations, so that makes sense too.
But I have faith in our generation, it’ll be good. Deacon Eddie prayed over me with the others, and definitely quoted psalm 139, and I almost lost it, with thanksgiving for the holy spirit giving him those words, and with thanksgiving for that time to share my mission story with people who were legitimately interested in hearing mission and call.
I have been beyond blessed by this past year serving as a missioner with Cabrini Mission Corps, and I could not be more thankful to Mother Cabrini for sharing her ways and drawing me in. such goodness!
And here I am, in the Atlanta airport, waiting to get to LGA, where I will then meet mary, wish her off to Ecuador, and make my own little mission to maryknoll orientation with other mission-minded young adults. Woohoo!