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OPINION

Unwavering Faith, Service All About 'Cabrini'

cristiana dell'anna

Cristiana Dell'Anna attends Cabrini Premiere on Feb. 26  in New York City. She stars as St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first U.S. Catholic saint. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Angel Studios)

Callista Gingrich By Wednesday, 27 March 2024 01:30 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

On International Women's Day, March 8, Angel Studios' latest film, "Cabrini," was released in theaters across America. The movie tells the incredible true story of the first American saint, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, and her mission to help vulnerable, impoverished, and destitute immigrants in the United States.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, millions of Italian immigrants came to America — most through Ellis Island — in search of their American dream. But many who journeyed in search of opportunity were met with poverty, desperation, and difficulty. Italian immigrants were ostracized from society, perceived to be of inferior intelligence, and struggled to speak English.

The film's screenwriter, Rod Barr, made the deliberate choice to establish these facts at the beginning of the movie out of concern that audiences wouldn't believe how horrific life was for Italian immigrants at the turn of the 20th century. The set designer, Carlos Lagunas, used real images taken by the historical photographer Jacob Riis that documented the poverty, brutality, and anguish experienced at the time.

Mother Cabrini and her Missionary sisters were called by Jesus Christ to minister and serve at the heart of this despair.

In 1880, Frances Cabrini, along with seven other women, founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Lodi, Italy. With the mission of being "bearers of the love of Christ to the world," Mother Cabrini aimed to spread Jesus Christ's ministry to the marginalized beyond northern Italy.

In 1889, Mother Cabrini and the sisters were sent by Pope Leo XIII to New York City's dangerous Five Points district, where Italians lived in brutal conditions. Parents worked for long hours and little pay, children starved, and poor living conditions resulted in disease and death.

As one immigrant from New York at the time wrote, "Here we live like animals. We live and die without priests, without teachers, without doctors."

Despite a lifelong fear of water, frail health, and initial skepticism from within the Vatican hierarchy, Mother Cabrini and the Missionary Sisters crossed the Atlantic, uncertain of what the future of their mission and their new lives as Italian immigrants might hold.

In America, the determined and resourceful 5-foot-tall Mother Cabrini overcame seemingly insurmountable challenges to assist and aid Italian immigrants and orphans in New York. Amid chaos, Mother Cabrini's faith remained steadfast.

As she once said, "If you carry the cross willingly, the cross will carry you."

With her sisters, Mother Cabrini went door to door looking for children to help. They started catechism classes, opened an orphanage in West Park, and established a hospital.

Soon after, her mission to help those in need expanded beyond New York. Within 34 years, Mother Cabrini founded 67 schools, hospitals, orphanages, and institutions in California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, and Washington, as well as Central America, South America, and Europe.

Through her example, Mother Cabrini treated those whom society had discarded with dignity, compassion, and kindness.

"She was not an issues person. She was a heart person," said Julia Attaway, the executive director of the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Shrine in New York City. "She sought to draw people closer to God. ... It was the only thing she ever wanted to do, which was whatever God asked of her."

The love and missionary zeal that moved Mother Cabrini to dedicate her life to Jesus Christ and found the Missionary Sisters continue to inspire generations of religious women. Today, the Missionary Sisters, their lay collaborators, and volunteers are active on six continents and in more than 15 countries, working as teachers, nurses, social workers, and administrators.

Mother Cabrini wanted the work she started to extend beyond her lifetime and to reach every corner of the world. "The world is too small to limit ourselves to one point; I want to embrace it entirely and to reach all its parts," she said in 1887.

"Cabrini" celebrates the historic impact of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini and invites audiences to follow her example of dedicated service, dauntless determination, and unwavering faith in Jesus Christ.

Fmr. Ambassador Callista L. Gingrich is the Chief Executive Officer of Gingrich 360, a multimedia production and consulting company based in Arlington, Virginia. Read Ambassador Callista Gingrich's Reports — More Here.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


CallistaGingrich
On International Women's Day, March 8, Angel Studios' latest film, Cabrini, was released in theaters across America. The movie tells the incredible true story of the first American saint, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, and her mission to help vulnerable, impoverished, and...
faith, christianity, cabrini
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2024-30-27
Wednesday, 27 March 2024 01:30 PM
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