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Posted by on Nov 18, 2007

Saint of the Day – St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Saint of the Day – St. Rose Philippine Duchesne


“Learn to let others do their share of the work. Things may be done less well, but you will have more peace of soul and health of body. And what temporal interest should we not sacrifice in order to gain these blessings?”
     St. Philippine Duchesne

Rose Philippine Duchesne, pictured here in a mosaic in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Missouri, was a French woman, born in 1769 to a successful middle class family. She entered the Visitation order during the French Revolution, but was forced to return home when revolutionaries expelled the nuns from their convents. She was active in the underground church during the Revolution, caring for the poor and sick, visiting prisoners and helping fugitive priests.

Following the Revolution, she joined the Society of the Sacred Heart. When the Bishop of Louisiana requested missionary help, she volunteered, arriving in New Orleans in 1818. She worked in Missouri and Kansas, starting schools and orphanages, for children of the settlers and Native Americans of the area. When she was 72 she founded a mission school for Native American girls and spent many years working there. The Potawatomi among whom she worked called her “Woman-who-prays-always.”

Despite the many years she lived in America, she was never able to master the English language. Yet that limitation never stopped her from doing what needed to be done for the children or the poor.

Her final years were spent at St. Charles, where her work in America had begun. She died there at the age of 83 on November 18, 1852 – a woman who accomplished wonders on the American frontier without sacrificing “peace of soul and health of body.”

“Learn to let others do their share of the work” — Not bad advice today either!

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Posted by on Nov 13, 2007

Saint of the Day – St. Frances Cabrini

Saint of the Day – St. Frances Cabrini


November 13 is the feast day of St. Francis Cabrini (1850 -1917), the patron saint of immigrants. She was born in northern Italy, in the province of Lombardy, and was one of 13 children. Her desire to become a nun was put on hold because of health problems. St. Frances devoted herself to caring for her parents and working with her brothers and sisters on the farm. She was asked to teach in a school by the local bishop. After six years, the bishop asked her to start the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for poor children. St. Frances was known for her administrative and leadership abilities and Pope Leo XIII asked her to extend her work to the United States for the care of Italian immigrants.

There is a lot more to the story of a woman whose frail health put her in the circumstances of founding her own order at the age of 30. She established orphanages, hospitals, and schools in the United States, Central America, South America, Spain and France. The complete story is available at St. Frances Cabrini never made it to China, which had been a long time dream. She made it as far as Seattle and California and had hopes of setting up programs in Alaska. At age 67, her health finally gave out and she died on December 22, 1917, in her room at the Columbus hospital in Chicago, while preparing candy for children.

Italians were forced to migrate for economic reasons. As displaced rural farmers, they brought little money, skills, or education with them. Their intention was to make money and return home. About 25% of Italian immigrants did return to Italy. For the most part they lived in dire poverty, in the worst of living conditions, and worked as manual laborers. By 1890, 90% of New York City’s public works employees were Italian, as were 99% of Chicago street workers. There were no social, health, or educational services for immigrants. They also encountered ethnic bigotry and religious prejudice.

The parallels with the current Mexican immigration to the United States are striking. In fact, St. Frances Cabrini opened programs in California for Mexican immigrants. The major difference is that Italian immigrants were documented and had a legal status. Although legal status is an issue for many Mexican immigrants, according to the San Jose Mercury News, 70% of persons of California’s Mexican community – 7.6 million of the state’s 36 million people – are United States citizens. While more social programs are available to immigrants with legal status, there are still great needs in housing, health care, employment protection, and nutrition.

In today’s global society, similar situations exist all around the world. The feast of St. Frances Cabrini is a good day to remember that prayer, work, and the desire to help the less fortunate can turn a person of frail health into a giant of Christ’s charity.

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Posted by on Oct 21, 2007

World Mission Sunday

World Mission Sunday


Today is World Mission Sunday. We are reminded that the mission of the Church (the People of God) is to share the Good News through all the world. Today I offer a few quotes from people working in “the field.”

“Growing up I met so many Sisters who visited the sick and families, who taught about Jesus. They made a big impression on me, nurturing my desire to become like them … We must be the Lord’s voice to the poor, telling of His great love.”  Sr. Christine Mwaka, Zambia

“We are forming missionaries to bring hope — the hope of our Lord — to our people. … Above all, we want the hope we have found in Jesus, our joy in following the Lord as priests, to uplift the poor and those in need.”  Fr. Anthony Jayakody, rector of Our Lady of Lanka Seminary in Sri Lanka

“My greatest strength comes from receiving our Lord in the Eucharist … My 14-year-old daughter prays that God will give me the wisdom to be an effective catechist. My prayer is that too, and also that the Lord will be with me as I teach about Him, opening the hearts of those who hear.”  Peter Soko, catechist in Zambia

For more information, click here to see the website of The Society for the Propagation of the Faith

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