On the feast day of St Frances Xavier Cabrini, founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, staff at Cabrini Hospital Malvern gathered for Mass in the hospital chapel to celebrate this important feast. Bishop Tony Ireland, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne and Episcopal Vicar of Health, Aged and Disability Care, celebrated the Mass and spoke about the vision that drove Cabrini’s missionary efforts worldwide.
Although Cabrini Health was not founded by Cabrini herself, it was founded in 1948 by 10 Cabrini Sisters who arrived in Melbourne from Italy to take over a small hospital in Malvern, then known as St Benedict’s.
In his homily, Bishop Ireland said, ‘A word that could be used to describe Mother Cabrini would be formidable. She was no shrinking violet, and she knew what needed to be done and what could be left undone.’
Bishop Ireland said that despite years of suffering from health difficulties herself, and even a fear of water that began at an early age, Cabrini went to heroic lengths to establish her religious order all over the world, sailing the oceans many times to work in places like Costa Rica, New York, Panama, Chile, Brazil and Buenos Aires.
A word that could be used to describe Mother Cabrini would be formidable. She was no shrinking violet, and she knew what needed to be done and what could be left undone.
Within 30 years of the establishment of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, there were more than a thousand members worldwide, with more than 50 foundations. With a charism that paid close attention to the health and education of immigrants, Cabrini and her sisters sought to make known the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for all people.
Mother Cabrini once said, ‘I will try to consider myself the servant of all and treat them with respectful affection, reverence and love.’
As well as being a woman of great determination, she also humbly sought discernment in important matters, Bishop Ireland said. When she was asked to come to New York and help the Italian immigrants there, she sought the advice of Pope Leo XIII. When he told her to go, she went, helping the Italian immigrants who lived in ghettoes and suffered deep hardship.
‘Throughout the world, Cabrini went where God sent her,’ Bishop Ireland said. ‘And we are here today because her order came here. We are the beneficiaries of an extraordinary vision. We are the beneficiaries of courageous determination, compassionate love and soaring faith that saw the hand of God accompanying Cabrini until she met him face to face.
‘Now it’s our turn. God calls each one of us: Go where I send you. Go renew the face of the earth.’
Supported by the volunteer-run Cabrini Choir, the celebration of St Frances Xavier Cabrini’s feast day is the beginning of two weeks of celebration for Cabrini staff and patients across Melbourne.
Proclaim: Office for Mission Renewal29 November 2023
Melbourne Catholic28 November 2023