Photo Courtesy of the Office of the Governor
“With this statue, I think the Italian-American community, the Catholic community in New York that feels strongly about Mother Cabrini and what she represents, they will feel satisfied that [Mother Cabrini] is being represented,” Gov. Cuomo said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Governor Andrew Cuomo this week waded into the murky waters surrounding the Mother Cabrini statue controversy—and the former altar boy did not tread lightly.
Cuomo, raised Roman Catholic in Hollis, announced Monday his full support for a new memorial honoring Mother Cabrini, an Italian nun who came to the United States, dedicated her life to public service on behalf of the less fortunate, and was later canonized as the patron saint of immigrants. The governor indicated that he would convene a State commission that will work with the Columbus Citizens Foundation, Diocese of Brooklyn, and others to site and fund a new statue.
The controversy began in August when it was revealed that, though she received 219 votes—more than double the second-place recipient—Cabrini was not picked by the “She Built NYC” panel to have a statue erected by the City in her honor.
“She Built NYC” is a new effort, led by City First Lady Chirlane McCray, to commission a public monument or artwork on City property that honors women’s history in the five boroughs.
The snub has incensed several elected officials and the Bishop of Brooklyn, the Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio.
Earlier this month, DiMarzio led more than 1,000 worshipers in a procession from Mother Cabrini Park on President Street in Carroll Gardens to Sacred Hearts–St. Stephen Church on Summit Street, where he hosted a special Mass.
“Mother Frances Cabrini was certainly one of the women who built New York City. Her work to establish orphanages, schools, and a hospital, along with her commitment to immigrants, absolutely should be recognized. The failure to honor Mother Cabrini with a public statue would be an affront to many New Yorkers, especially Italian-Americans, who see her as most deserving,” DiMarzio said.
On Monday, Cuomo used his Columbus Day pulpit to state his own case for Cabrini.
“[W]ith this statue, I think the Italian-American community, the Catholic community in New York that feels strongly about Mother Cabrini and what she represents, they will feel satisfied that she is being represented,” the governor said. “You know this city, this state, our asset is our diversity. But to keep the diversity positive, everyone has to feel included. Every group has to feel included. Whether it’s the Jewish community or the Irish community or the African-American community, or the Latino community—every community has to feel included. And the Italian-American community feels strongly about this.”
State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) added, “I was pleased for stand with Gov. Cuomo on Columbus Day during his announcement of a statue of Mother Frances Cabrini. It is confirmed, that the city will finally receive a statue for our nation’s first canonized saint, Mother Cabrini, in honor of all her efforts towards immigration, children, orphanages and hospitals, while at the same time acknowledging the voice of the people, who believed Mother Cabrini should be honored with this monument.”