Mother’s Influence


Mother Cabrini’s feast day was Nov. 13.

In the spring of 1946, while in the fourth grade at St. Gabriel School, Riverdale, the Bronx, I was scheduled to receive the sacrament of confirmation within a day or so. My chosen saint’s name was to be “Therese” (of the Little Flower)—until my father came home and announced the news that our country was to have “our first American saint”!

Suddenly, it seemed I had no choice! Although I had never “crossed” our nuns (whom I revere to this day), I stood my ground at their irritation and said, “Well, the registration papers will just have to be changed.” Reminding me that “you’re not even Italian” (we’re Irish) had no effect. Another warned that “you can’t take all three names,” so I limited myself to two, Frances Cabrini.

What a saint! She crossed the Atlantic 13 times in spite of a dread fear of water, and she went over the Andes on a burro. Many American cities boast schools or hospitals started by her and her order, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. (She has me serving as a catechist in three parishes!)

Maria Frances Cabrini Lahiff-Pedulla
LaPorte, Ind.