DYKER HEIGHTS — While Gov. Andrew Cuomo has appointed 19 members to a new commission that will oversee the creation of a statue honoring Mother Cabrini, U.S. Rep. Max Rose has his own idea of how to honor the patron saint of immigrants. He recently introduced legislation to rename the Dyker Heights Post Office, 8202 13th Avenue, the Mother Cabrini Post Office.
Fifteen members of Congress have voiced support for Rose’s bipartisan bill: Peter King, Brian Higgins, Sean Patrick Maloney, Joseph Morelle, Jerrold Nadler, Nydia Velázquez, Thomas Suozzi, Eliot Engel, Adriano Espaillat, Grace Meng, Hakeem Jeffries, Nita Lowey, José Serrano and Kathleen Rice.
“Mother Cabrini’s unending dedication to helping others touched the lives of so many New Yorkers,” said Rose. “The incredible groundswell of support for her in our community is a testament to her example of compassion, service and impact,” said Rose.
While the proposal for the renaming has not yet been presented to Community Board 10, CB 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann believes that Cabrini’s many contributions are certainly worthy of recognition.
“Mother Cabrini should certainly be recognized for her work with the immigrant community that’s helped so many,” Beckmann told this paper. “All the immigrant families that travelled through our borough and our city. Personally I think it’s great,” she added.
The movement to honor Mother Cabrini built up steam after a city commission, the She Built NYC Initiative, declined to include the saint in its list of six women to be honored with statues around the city, despite the fact that she came in first in the citywide vote the commission previously held.
Cuomo, who has committed $750,000 for the building of a statue announced his intention of honoring Mother Cabrini with a statue on Columbus Day, just a couple of days after Mayor Bill de Blasio — whose wife New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray heads up She Built NYC — said on “The Brian Lehrer Show,” that the saint is “absolutely worthy of being honored and another round of the statue process is about to begin and her name is clearly at the top of the list because she is an outstanding figure in New York history and obviously it would mean a lot to a lot of people.”
Cuomo made it clear that he did not want to wait for another round of votes to determine if Cabrini would receive her statue.
The commission’s charge is to identify an artist and a location for the new statue. Among the members from Brooklyn are Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio from the Diocese of Brooklyn; Carlo Scissura, chairperson of the Federation of Italian-American Organizations and president and CEO of the New York Building Congress; John Leo Heyer II, Diocese of Brooklyn Italian Apostolate; and Erminia Rivera, member of Maimonides Medical Center Board of Trustees.
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the patron saint of immigrants, arrived in New York in 1889 with the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Mother Cabrini Park is located at the former site of a church building where Mother Cabrini first ministered to the poor immigrants of the Italian community.
Cabrini’s extensive ties to Brooklyn include working at Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary Church located on President Street in 1892. She also assisted in the establishment of the St. Charles School with Brooklyn Bishop McDonnell, to serve the children of the newly arrived Italian immigrants. The school was located on Van Brunt Street, around the corner from the church.
By 1900, with the concentration of Italian immigrants in the area believed to be the highest in the United States, SHJM Parish began plans to build a bigger church on the corner of DeGraw and Hicks streets in Cobble Hill. Over the course of her life, Mother Cabrini established 67 different institutions including hospitals, schools, and churches that bear her name.
“I support all efforts to ensure Mother Cabrini’s legacy lives on, including the governor’s announcement to build a statue. I’m proud to lead the charge in renaming the Dyker Heights Post Office in Mother Cabrini’s honor,” added Rose.