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Archives Parish shows ‘Cabrini’ to sell-out crowd

March 13, 2024

By Mary Beth Bracy, consecrated virgin
Contributing Writer

On March 8, the new Angel Studios’ movie “Cabrini” opened at movie theaters in the United States and Canada, including several throughout the North Country. One local parish with a special connection to Mother Cabrini decided to rent out a theater for the occasion.

“I was at one of ‘The Chosen’ movies and saw an ad for ‘Cabrini’ and thought that looked really interesting to me. That would be a good movie night for the parish and people are always asking for them. They like going together as a family of faith. Who better to watch than Mother Cabrini because she is in our circle, she is our shrine. It seemed like a no brainer,” shared Father Scott R. Seymour, pastor of the community of Saint Alexander, Saint Augustine, and Saint James, with a mission at Mother Cabrini Shrine and Saint Patrick’s Oratory.

The local cinema was very accommodating, he explained, and the parish had a table at the movie theater to welcome people and have them check-in.

“We had to bump up the size of the theater to seat 200 because of the response of people from all three of our churches and some from other parishes,” Father Seymour said. “We called Regal, and they said we could do it on the night it was opening, we could pick anytime we wanted. I asked if I could say a prayer before and they said ‘that is fine.’ They were also fine with us handing out prayer cards and medals of Mother Cabrini after the movie.”

It was a packed house for the show.

“We’re excited,” Father Seymour said. “It’s a nice group across the board of all ages. Mother Cabrini is a very important part of people’s lives in this area, so it seemed like a great thing to do for Lent.”

“I always knew of Mother Cabrini,” added Father Seymour. “I knew she was an immigrant to the United States and one of our first saints here. I went to visit her shrine in Upper Manhattan. I didn’t realize she was such a force to be reckoned with some of the statements from the movie trailer (‘Men could never do what we do.’) It’s amazing what you can do when you have God on your side. Things that seem insurmountable are never too big. Her desire to help the poor was continuous. Her prayers and activities for the poor were matchless, they were very powerful. The hospitals and the things that she opened not just in New York but Philadelphia and Chicago. That’s pretty impressive. I was surprised that she started her own order.”

“She clearly has been an important part of this area for years. We get throngs of people there (at Mother Cabrini Shrine in Peru) every week to this day. We go through candles up there like there’s no tomorrow. We collect funeral prayer cards because we get so many that people leave there. People from all over are attracted to the shrine itself. They light candles indoors and outdoors. We order pallets of candles twice a year for a total of 7200 candles! When it’s not open, people call. They find great solace up there, being removed from everything, looking down on everything, up the mountain close to God. It is a place of prayer, which adds to the mystique of everything. People go for healing and to remember their dead loved ones. In the summer time you get people from all over. In this area, it’s just a very popular place to go. I think it’s all because of the devotion of that priest who was here.”

Father Harold P. McCabe, pastor of St. Patrick’s in 1946, was greatly devoted to Cabrini and wanted to begin a shrine to her. Parishioners worked for its construction and, as a result, thousands of people visited the shrine from as far away as Michigan. Numerous people of all faiths came by busloads from the New York City metro area and Canada. Father McCabe had a local radio program called “The Mother Cabrini Hour.” Regularly, he received letters from visitors who received help and cures from Cabrini’s intercession, sometimes after their visits to the shrine.

“We offer Mass there in the summer for our parish picnic with the three parishes,” said Father Seymour of the shrine affiliated with the faith community. “We get hundreds of people. People love it. No one disputes whose she is, it is common ground. They are looking for an answer to prayer or remembering a loved one.”

“Mother Cabrini is kind of a nice bridge between everybody because she is known to everybody and they have visited there on many occasions,” Father Seymour added. “Msgr. Dennis Duprey began the Stations of the Cross outdoors there when we were coming out of Covid. They used flambeaux (torches) to safely light the way to the stations. It met a need because we weren’t inside. People like it. Sometimes the weather is not the best. Last week in the wind storm I prayed and the weather was wonderful until after the Stations. We had 40 people. We use a shorter version. It’s a wonderful experience. We conclude Good Friday with the Stations there. Our maintenance man, Dave, built an apparatus so the Cross is all lit up.

“Mother Cabrini is still an important part of our life, she is in our circle. We are pretty blessed to have a great devotion to her and Brother André. We have a relic of his blood, handwritten letters. The bottom floor of our new building is dedicated to his memory: Brother André educational center. In one corner we have Brother André, a statue of him and stained glass window. We live on holy ground where important people have come.
“Mother Cabrini’s calm and good works drove devotions. People are always welcome to visit Mother Cabrini’s shrine and St. Patrick’s Oratory. Her relic is there to venerate, along with those of other saints.”

Stations of the Cross is held at Mother Cabrini Shrine during Lent (except March 27) on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. and at St. James in Cadyville at 6 p.m. during Lent (except Good Friday). The outdoor shrine at Mother Cabrini’s is open all the time. The Church is open from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. weather permitting (not in snowstorms).

Born in 1850, near Milan, Italy, Cabrini loved the Holy Eucharist from a young age, saying: “My Jesus, I want to adore You for all.” She longed to be a religious, but her health was too poor to join the teaching Sisters.

Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, desiring to travel to China, but the Pope told them to go to the US instead. They left Italy in 1889 and arrived in NYC without a home.

The Sisters ministered to Italian immigrants and traveled the Americas, Europe, and beyond founding schools, orphanages, and hospitals.

Cabrini encouraged them to find strength through Mass and by starting Eucharistic Adoration.

Despite busy schedules, they spent six hours in prayer daily. At the time of Cabrini’s death in 1917, she had over 4,000 sisters and more than 50 houses, in addition to 67 institutions: hospitals, schools, and orphanages worldwide.

Though afraid of water, Cabrini crossed the Atlantic 23 times. She is patroness of immigrants.

To correspond with the U.S. opening of “Cabrini,” Sophia Press, in partnership with Angel Studios, is releasing three related book titles: the heroine’s definitive biography, “The World Is Too Small: The Life and Times of Mother Cabrini”; a prayer devotional drawn from her authentic letters, “The Mother Cabrini Companion”; and an illustrated children’s book dramatizing her work with children, “Mother Cabrini: A Heart for the World.” They are available at sophiainstitute.com.

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