How Mother Cabrini helped lead an immigrant to his vocation.

Even in the complete unknown, God is guiding our footsteps.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first American saint and patron of immigrants, labored for 28 years in the United States and South America, establishing some 67 institutions, including schools, hospitals, and orphanages. She died in Chicago on December 22, 1917 and was canonized in 1946.

Throughout my life, St. Cabrini has been a reminder of God’s presence and how God gently guides us for a higher purpose. You’d be surprised at the ordinary, everyday occurrences where God’s hand can be discovered.

You’d be surprised at the ordinary, everyday occurrences where God’s hand can be discovered.

St. Cabrini first reminded me of God’s plan on January 13, 1953—a day that changed my life. That was the day I flew from Mexico City to Chicago (with a stop in San Antonio). I arrived in the city St. Cabrini considered her home. The last thing I saw in Mexico City was the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Lo and behold, the first welcome to Chicago my family received was the same image of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Chicago.

Advertisement

My family included six children between the ages of 3 and 16. Together with my parents, Eutimio and Concepciόn, we had to grow in another culture, learn another language, and forge a new future. There was no going back. We needed to look forward in our new surroundings, unfamiliar as they were. There was no bilingual education or awareness, no Hispanic food stores, and not many places to rent, except in three restricted areas of the metropolis. With a blind and trusting faith, we forged forward.

Our migration changed our lives and reminded us of God’s loving providence. We had left Mexico, where Catholics were being persecuted, and arrived in Chicago, where we felt God was personally caring for each member of our family.

Throughout my life and the lives of my family members, St. Cabrini continues to remind me of how God guides us in finding our vocations.

When I graduated from grammar school at St. Francis of Assisi on June 5, 1955, I needed to decide on my future before taking the next step into high school. I wanted to become a professional—an engineer, a lawyer, a doctor. But a spark challenged me to be something to which people must be called: a priest. A priest is a professional, but not everyone is called to be a priest. The Claretians opened the door for me. I believe this is providence at work in a gentle and effective way.

Advertisement

When the Archdiocese of Chicago initiated the permanent diaconate program, my brother Simon Rodríguez took on the training and was ordained a permanent deacon. He also experienced the providential hand of God in his life.

Throughout my life and the lives of my family members, St. Cabrini continues to remind me of how God guides us in finding our vocations.

Mother Cabrini, patron of immigrants, pray for us.


This article also appears in the October issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 85, No. 10, page 7). Click here to subscribe to the magazine.

Image: Wikimedia Commons