Mother Cabrini arrived in the U.S. in 1899, during the second great wave of immigration. A million Italians had arrived on American shores in the previous decade. Three million more would arrive before Mother Cabrini died in 1917.
But it wasn’t just Italians who were were pouring in. In 1890, 14.8% of people living in the U.S. had been born in another country — an all-time high. The immigrant share of the population remained above 10% until World War II. It then declined gradually to just under 5% by 1970. The trend over the past 50 years has been upward. Today the figure is nearly as high as when Mother Cabrini arrived.
Migration is a worldwide issue driven by wars, natural disasters, and economic devastation. The vast number of refugees don’t end up in the U.S., but settle in countries adjacent to their own borders. (The National Shrine in Chicago and the Cabrini Retreat Center recently produced a terrific webinar on current trends in worldwide immigration which you can watch here.)
Because immigration — and immigrant needs — are ongoing issues, over 20 years ago the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus initiated a ministry named Cabrini Immigrant Services (CIS). Here in New York City, CIS provides free legal and social service consultations located in Mother Cabrini’s stomping grounds, the Lower East Side.
We are pleased that as of this month, CIS-NY will also be providing intake appointments at St. Frances Cabrini Shrine on selected Thursdays and Saturdays. Consultations are available in Spanish and English. Anyone wishing to set up an appointment can call the Shrine at 212-923-3536.