BY SHERI RODGERS of the THE SUNDAY TIMES A shrine to honor St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was recently unveiled and blessed at St. Lucy's Church in Scranton. The shrine caps years of work by a small but dedicated group of volunteers who wished to memorialize Mother Cabrini's work. A century ago, Sister Francesca Saverio Cabrini, then 39, arrived in America, at the request of Pope Leo XII. Before her arrival, she changed her name to St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. She, along with six companion nuns from her Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, began to work among Italian immigrants who settled in America. She traveled to Scranton in the summer of 1899 and founded the Frances Cabrini Elementary School in West Scranton. The elementary school was one of 67 institutions - including hospitals and orphanages - she founded throughout the world during her life. The school, which was operated by Cabrini nuns for over 70 years, closed in 1974. The building is now used as a housing complex for senior citizens and handicapped. Mother Cabrini became a U.S. citizen in 1909. She continued her work with Italian-American families in other cities throughout the United States and abroad until her death on Dec. 22, 1917. She was known for her tireless work and was credited with three documented miracles, including the recoveries of a fellow nun and a young child. She was the first American to be canonized a saint. The canonization, which took place at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City on June 13, 1946, came unusually fast. The procedure can take centuries. The marble statue of Mother Cabrini that once stood at the elementary school now sits on the grounds of St. Lucy's Church in a brand new shrine. She and her-fellow nuns, along with her many students, often attended Mass at the church. The shrine is the fourth dedicated in her honor. The others are located in New York City, Colorado and Illinois. Dawn Brennan, who first fushed for the shrine to Mother Cabrini, formed a committee-"The Cabrini 12"-nine years ago. The committee immediately began planning and raising money for the shrine.
According to committee member, Carl J. Savino, Jr., the total project cost approximately $45,000. With that money he said, they were able to reconstruct one of the statues hands to build a shrine around her. “The statue was weather-beaten, so we had it re-detailed and coated,” he said. Mr. Savino said that the committee held every type of fund raiser possible from 50/50 chances to dances to raise enough money.” One year, we worked the Italian Festival in Scranton and sold pizza fritta and Italian pastries, he added. We worked very hard for nine years and it looks great. “It’s gorgeous at night.”
The Cabrini 12 include: Jane DeMaio, Carrie Zangardi, Joe Bomrad, Bea Giovannoni, Camille Fawzon Curran, Dom Verghetti, Dom Cacciatore, Mary DeMaio Moore, Susan Lazar Yanchick, Dawn Brennan, Frank Giambrone, and Carl J. Savino , Jr.
A reunion will be held on Oct. 3rd to mark the 100th anniversary of the opening of the former Mother Cabrini Elementary School.
A monument sits at St. Lucy’s Church, West Scranton.