Holy war: Catholic protesters push for public statue of Mother Cabrini

More than 1,000 Catholics protested the First Lady McCray’s decision to snub Mother Cabrini, who won the most votes in McCray’s statue-building initiative.
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More than 1,000 Kings County Catholics gathered in Carroll Gardens on Sunday to march in support of Mother Cabrini, a saint and former Brooklynite, who was recently snubbed by First Lady Chirlane McCray during a statue-building competition.

“It was extremely powerful,” said Monsignor David Cassato, the Italian Apostolate of the Diocese of Brooklyn, who helped organize the march.

The controversy surrounding the 20th-century saint erupted in late August after McCray — Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife — overrode constituents who voted overwhelmingly to honor Mother Cabrini by erecting a new public statue.

The saint dominated the poorly attended polls by more than a hundred votes, but the city’s First Lady snubbed the democratic process in choosing seven other historic women to be memorialized by the She Built NYC public initiative, sparking outrage in the Catholic community.

The Oct. 6 protest was attended by more than 1,000 Mother Cabrini fans from across the city, who carried signs and statues honoring the saint — known for her work with New York’s immigrants in the late 19th century — as they crusaded through Carroll Gardens, concluding their march at Sacred Hearts Church on First Place and Hicks Street.

One marcher, whose grandmother was a student of Mother Cabrini in the early 1900’s, said the procession brought the community together in honor of a worthy cause.

“I loved it,” said Carroll Gardens native Maria Cammareri. “It was so nice going around the neighborho­od.”

The Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens used the march to announce a fundraising campaign to build its own statue of the beloved saint — which they hope to erect outside of Brooklyn Borough Hall. Donations for the effort immediately took off, reaching over $17,000 before the end of the day, according to Cassato.

But some Catholics remain uncontent to turn the other cheek, arguing that the city should be bankrolling the new statue, not private donors.

“I’ve been a very big donor of the Catholic church,” said Bensonhurst resident Ursula Agosta. “But the whole principle is that [McCray] is using taxpayer money.”

Reverend Guy Sbordone from St. Frances Cabrini Church in Bensonhurst also criticized the effort, arguing that the crowdfunding strategy takes the pressure off McCray.

“It should be done by the city,” he said.

But Cassato defended the fundraising campaign, claiming that the money would simply augment city funding for a Mother Cabrini statue, not commission one on it’s own.

“We do not want the be limited because of a budget already exhausted on their current selections,” he said. “Should the city decided to fully fund the creation of the statue then donations will be available to enhance what is created by the city.”

Currently, the city is planning on commemorating the seven women of McCray’s choosing — including jazz singer Billie Holiday, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, and civil rights advocate Elizabeth Jennings Graham — none of whom managed even a second place finish during the voting period.

Reach reporter Rose Adams at or by calling (718) 260–8306. Follow her on Twitter @rose_n_adams
Updated 12:59 pm, October 9, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Ro from Park Slope says:
One cannot deny the contribution given by religious sisters to the immigrants of New York City. Mother Cabrini is a symbol of how one immigrant in the 20th century impacted a city, let alone the world, as she is recognized internationally (yet, not by those in charge of this democratic survey).
Oct. 9, 2019, 3:33 pm
t from bath beach says:
When you dont get the results you want just ignore the poll voting. Its obvious Mccray was only interested in choices that go with her identity politics choices which were women of color and/or LGBT and definitely not Catholic.
Oct. 9, 2019, 3:50 pm
Vito from Marine Park says:
First Lady Chirlane McCray Selection does NOT show Diversity for NYC. If the the tables were turned - Boy oh boy It would be all over the NEWS.
Oct. 9, 2019, 4 pm
Marie from Crown Hgts says:
Thank God there's a fight against the godless Chirlane de Blasio. She and her husband are atheists.
Oct. 9, 2019, 5:22 pm
Local from Here says:
Religion is a waste of time.
Oct. 10, 2019, 1:58 pm
Floyd from Flatbusb from Flatbush says:
I don't care about Chirlaine and Big Bird's lack of religious fervor. Or her lame poll. But if Mother Cabrini is the winner, the FLOCONY should honor that,
Oct. 10, 2019, 6:21 pm
lynn Rossi from Staten Island says:
What do you expect from two crooks? I'd like to see if we did the same to malcom x ....what b.x.
Oct. 13, 2019, 11:22 am
True italian from Bensonhurst says:
Get that wannabe italian commie mayor and his atheist wife out of office. They drove too many Italians out of bensonhurst, now it's time to drive them out!!!!Hold on to our heritage and bring it back!!!!
Oct. 13, 2019, 2:29 pm
True italian from Bensonhurst says:
That wannabe Italian mayor and his wife need to be voted out. They are a disgrace.
Oct. 13, 2019, 2:31 pm

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