Bensonhurst Catholics furious after NYC’s first lady snubs saintly winner of statue-building initiative

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She’s no saint!

Bensonhurst Catholics slammed First Lady Chirlane McCray for snubbing the saintly winner of a supposedly democratic election to determine the subject of a statue-building campaign honoring the trailblazing women of New York City history

“It makes no sense,” said Rosalie Grazaino, who has attended Saint Frances Cabrini Church in Bensonhurst for 50 years. “What happened to democracy?”

Congregates of the Bay 11th Street church near 86th street pooled their votes to nominate the house of worship’s beatific patron — known for her work with New York’s immigrants in the late 19th century — and the worshippers came to dominate the poorly attended polls with a whopping 219 votes.

But St. Cabrini’s supporters claim Comrade McCray spit in the face of democracy and threw their votes in trash when she chose seven different women to commemorate with statues across the city.

“It feels like we’re living in Communist China,” said Ursula Agosta, 72, a Bensonhurst resident and a parishioner at the Bay 11th Street church near 86th street. “I voted for her like I vote for the mayor, like I vote for the president.”

McCray launched the She Built NYC public initiative in June 2018 to address the city’s lack of statues honoring great women, and asked the public to nominate their favorites. Some of the top votes went to Saint Frances Cabrini, activist Jane Jacobs, and humanitarian Lillian Wald — all of whom received more votes than most of McCray’s picks.

Instead, Mayor de Blasio’s wife and Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen chose to commemorate jazz singer Billie Holiday, civil rights advocate Elizabeth Jennings Graham, doctor Helen Rodriguez Trias, and LGBTQ activist, Sylvia Rivera — none of whom were among the top seventeen women nominated.

The other three picks — Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, lighthouse keeper Katherine Walker, and transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson — did make the top seven spots, although none took first or second place.

The winners announcement caused a ruckus at the Bensonhurst church, where parishioners had mobilized friends and neighbors to cast votes for their patron saint, known as Mother Cabrini, after their priest, Reverend Guy Sbordone, urged the congregation to vote for her.

And Councilman Justin Brannan (D–Bensonhurst) penned an letter politely bashing the city on Aug. 16 for ignoring the open call’s results.

“I am delighted with the individuals who were selected... they are all personal heroes of mine,” he wrote. “However, the seemingly undemocratic process for arriving at these choices leaves me quite dismayed, as I feel the will of my people was denied.” The first lady has not yet responded to the letter, Brannan claimed on Aug. 29.

Even the panelists McCray chose to evaluate the public’s picks expressed frustration at the first lady’s dictatorial selection process, according to an art news website Hyperallergic.

“The whole thing was a charade,” Harriet Senie, an art historian on the panel, told Hyperallergic.

A spokesman at She Built NYC clarified that the seven statues are the first of many that the organization hopes to build, and claimed that the nominations were strictly advisory. The committee prioritized selecting a racially diverse group: only one of the seven statues, Katherine Walker, was white.

However, while the spokesman claimed that the committee would continue considering Mother Cabrini, he implied that a statue may not be in the cards, saying the saint is wealthy with tributes.

“We appreciate the passion and enthusiasm for honoring Mother Cabrini’s remarkable life and work, and we’re proud that New York City is home to a shrine honoring her, along with a street and parkland named in her honor,” he said.

Reach reporter Rose Adams at or by calling (718) 260–8306. Follow her on Twitter @rose_n_adams
Posted 12:00 am, September 3, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Benny from Park Slope says:
De Blasio and his wife are exactly the sort of self-absorbed, self-important fools most of New York (and the rest of the USA) believes them to be. I'm a left-leaning Dem, and even I despise these "progressive" clowns. And why the fcuk does McCray have such a loud role in city government, anyway? Nobody voted for her -- just like hardly anyone voted for her husband, in the election with the lowest voter turnout in modern history.
Sept. 3, 2019, 9:03 am
Far away guy ......... from bklyn heights says:
It will be a wonderful day when this Mayor and his all around horrible appointees are gone I truly believe that Diblasio is mentally disturbed,and delusional and mark my words eventually someday many years from now when this horrable person is old and forgotten you will hear that he was committed for some kind of mental disorder.
Sept. 3, 2019, 9:43 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Francesca Saverio Cabrini has an entire building dedicated to venerating her. It's on (shock of all shocks) Cabrini Boulevard in Manhattan... it's got statues all over it. I am sure the Catholic Church can pay for another statue of her (how many are there in NYC?) even with all the money they are using to cover up their rape abuse history. Old people really never realize how much they have and always want more.
Sept. 3, 2019, 9:46 am
Rosemary Sukllivan from Fishkill says:
The people in office in Brooklyn are anti catholics. Today's Democrats are nothing like those yesteryear. Just look at how they support murder of babies up they are born. Voters should do their homework before they vote.
Sept. 3, 2019, 10:26 am
James from Madison says:
That will be the last time they open op the selection to the idiots of NYC. Religion and saints are everywhere. Give me a break. What a bunch of old nut jobs.
Sept. 3, 2019, 11:27 am
Connie Wong says:
They won’t build a statue because she was white. The first “lady” hates white people.
Sept. 3, 2019, 11:47 am
Buck fever from BAYRIDGE says:
You jerks voted for him so stop whining
Sept. 3, 2019, 1:31 pm
Bob from Gerritsen Beach says:
Rosemary Sukllivan from Fishkill, it's not that she's anti-Catholic it's just that the Catholic population has diminished to a point where politicians don't fear them. I'm pretty confident that if she was in a different neighborhood she would and responded a lot differently. That's just the way politicians are it's nothing new.
Sept. 3, 2019, 3:48 pm
JD from Gravesend says:
I agree with Buck...y'all elected the dumbarse - TWICE!
Sept. 4, 2019, 12:33 pm
Greg from Bay Ridge says:
Why have a vote at all, if you are just going to ignore the results? Oh wait... already did that a few times before.
Sept. 4, 2019, 2:29 pm
Don from Brooklyn says:
Mother Cabrini won the popular vote. That's the vote that matters in America. Riiiight.
Oct. 9, 2019, 2:13 pm

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