From the start, Frances Xavier Cabrini's life was difficult. She was born prematurely in a small city near Milan, Italy. Enthralled by the stories of missionaries, she knew she wanted to join a religious order. Cabrini made it her mission to join the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, who had been her teachers and helped her to achieve her teaching degree, but due to her frail health, she was denied permission to join the order.
She, however, did not let that lead her away from God’s plan. In 1880 she and seven other women founded the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and planned to bring her work to China, but when she sought guidance from Pope Leo XIII, he told her “not to the East, but to the West.”
Cabrini had a grave fear of water and drowning, yet she bought a ticket to sail on the Titanic to bring her mission to the East. Right before she set sail, she was called back to help with a crisis at the Columbus Hospital in New York. The Titanic sank without her, and looking back, it was all a part of God’s plan to keep her work going.
During her lifetime Cabrini made 23 trans-Atlantic crossings and established 67 institutions, including schools, hospitals, and orphanages.
Her work meant the world to many people, and she was canonized as a saint in 1946 and is forever known as the patron of immigrants.
Today as we look around, the last thing most of us are probably thinking about is Mother Cabrini and her legacy. We are focused on the physical University built in her honor closing its doors. As a student who has loved Cabrini since the first day she arrived on campus, the news about Cabrini University closing has brought me immense sadness. But, looking back at Mother Cabrini’s life and mission, her favorite quote sticks with me, “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” I look at the school that has brought me so much joy and offered me a place to call home these past few years and realize this is not the end of Cabrini.
Cabrini has allowed me to grow, make mistakes, and learn from them. Cabrini University may cease to exist, but the memories made here will never be forgotten, just as Mother Cabrini's mission lives on through us and with us every step of the way.
Even though Cabrini University will close its doors, Frances Cabrini's mission lives on through us as we move on to new things.
Mother Cabrini started a lot but technically didn’t start the community here. We did. She is the reason we are here today, and she created the foundation for schools to be made, but we continue to move her mission along. I know this is a hard time, I know we lose a physical home, but looking back, we gained a family with this home. At the end of the day, a home is a home but family lasts forever, and the connections we’ve made along the way are what will stick with us. Remember Cabrini not for the buildings or the campus but as the mission we’ve carried on through our contributions, love, and support.