A Catholic sister, in a habit, holds a baby who is snuggled into her shoulder.
A Catholic sister at St. Vincent de Paul Children’s Home in Ecuador cares for a baby.*

Mother Cabrini’s Legacy: Hero to Vulnerable Children

Since the release of the highly acclaimed movie “Cabrini,” there has been renewed interest in the remarkable life of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini. She devoted her life to serving Italian immigrant children in New York City. She was the first American saint canonized by the Catholic Church and the patron saint of immigrants. Affectionately known as Mother Cabrini, her legacy of service and devotion to the vulnerable inspires us at Cross Catholic Outreach to serve , abandoned or in dire situations worldwide.

(Photo credit: Science History Images/Alamy Stock Photo.)

Mother Cabrini’s Legacy

Maria Francesca Cabrini was born prematurely in northern Italy on July 15, 1850. She was a small and sickly child. At an early age, she was fascinated by stories of missionaries and felt God’s call to religious vocation. But because of her poor health, a religious order turned her away. Thankfully, she did not let this deter her from a life of service to the Lord.

In 1877, she took religious vows and added Xavier to her name, becoming Frances Xavier Cabrini, to honor St. Francis Xavier, cofounder of the Jesuits and the patron saint of missionary service. In 1880, Frances founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with seven other women in Italy. These remarkable sisters creatively raised money and gathered resources to serve orphans and abandoned children.

Despite her success in Italy, Mother Cabrini dreamed of serving the Lord as a missionary to China. When she traveled to Rome to obtain an audience with Pope Leo XIII, he encouraged her to go to New York instead (Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). There, thousands of Italian immigrant children needed a person of her faith and conviction to champion their cause.

Mother Cabrini and six other sisters set sail for the United States, becoming the first order of Catholic sisters to engage in foreign missionary service. She was a voice for the voiceless Italian immigrant children in New York, establishing catechism and education classes and caring for orphans (Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). It wasn’t easy, but she persevered, obeying God and changing the lives of countless children. 

Over the course of her ministry, Mother Cabrini and her order of sisters founded 67 orphanages and hospitals worldwide. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1909 and passed away in 1917. When Pope Pius XII canonized her in 1946, she became the first American saint.

How Cross Catholic Outreach Makes an Impact on Behalf of Vulnerable Children

At Cross Catholic Outreach, we are blessed to work with missionary sisters all over the world. Like Mother Cabrini, these heroic women have dedicated their lives to serving the most vulnerable in society. Thanks to their single-minded mission to serve Christ and children in need, thousands of lives have been forever changed.

Here are just two ministries run by sisters who work to improve the lives of children.

RELATED: Cross Catholic Outreach’s Global Ministry to Orphans

The Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood — Mozambique

The Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood run both the Tete and Impaputo Daycare Centers in Mozambique. The sisters bless young boys and girls with educational support, daily meals and spiritual formation. Their mission of mercy is urgently needed in a country where UNICEF estimates that 2 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS, and vulnerable boys and girls often are left without the resources for an education or healthy diet. Through God’s grace, these daycare centers provide both! The children enjoy a safe haven where they grow strong in mind, body and spirit. Cross Catholic Outreach donors make it possible for the sisters to have the resources to ensure the children are advancing in school, receiving proper nutrition and growing closer to the Lord.

RELATED: Understanding Mozambique’s Orphan Crisis and How You Can Help

The Daughters of Charity — Ecuador

Since 1876, St. Vincent de Paul Children’s Home has worked tirelessly to serve the neglected and abused children of Quito. The children’s home is currently run by The Daughters of Charity, the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Under their direction, babies receive needed medical attention, checkups, nutritious food and stimulation to meet milestones.

The Daughters of Charity also believe a child’s spiritual health is important and that no boy or girl is too young to learn about God’s immeasurable love. That’s why all the children they serve are encouraged to take part in prayer, hear Bible stories and ultimately learn more about Catholic teachings. This gives them an unbreakable foundation of faith for the rest of their lives and helps them understand God has a unique plan for each of them.

Donors of Cross Catholic Outreach support the children’s home’s nursery for babies and toddlers. This support allows the ministry to meet the needs of the youngest children at the home with special love and care.

A baby drinks a bottle of milk while in a crib.
The St. Vincent de Paul Children’s Home cares for young babies in their nursery.*

Join Us in Helping Orphans Worldwide

Saint Frances Cabrini once prayed, “My good Jesus, give me the grace to love you with all my heart and to serve you with great fidelity in this life, so that I can be a grain of sand to build up your glory for all eternity.” (St. Frances Cabrini Shrine NYC)

Praise God, there are still missionaries around the world who are serving Christ by taking up the case of vulnerable children, and we can be a grain of sand to build up God’s glory! You can be part of this mission of mercy to vulnerable children by financially supporting the sisters’ work in developing countries. Give now and change lives!

*Faces of beneficiaries have been altered to protect their privacy.

Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.