Sister Bridget Zanin, MSC, joined the Cabrini University community on Tuesday, November 29. She has served as a Missionary Sister of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (MSC) since 1962. As a teenager in Brazil, she was called on a spiritual path that led her from her home to the United States Midwest and eventually Radnor, PA. Get to know Sister Bridget through the Q&A below. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity. ~ submitted by Matt Nestor, Cabrini University
What are your first impressions since arriving here at Cabrini University?
Sister Bridget: The campus is beautiful. I feel a little bit isolated because I’m so used to living in a city where you step out and can go anywhere and do anything. Here, you need a car.
Which city were you in before you arrived here?
SB: Chicago. I was the Director of the National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini in Chicago. I was at the Shrine for 10 years. And before that, I was in the city of Des Plaines [Illinois]. I was working as a chaplain at the Holy Family Hospital. And, before that I worked at Mercy Family Hospital in Chicago.
What kinds of service did you do there and elsewhere?
SB: My first profession was as a nurse. I worked as an ICU nurse in medical/surgical. It was kind of getting heavier and heavier, so I went in to chaplaincy so I could talk to patients and their families. Having the nursing background, being a chaplain I think was a blessing for me, because I could understand the patient’s diagnosis—what they were going through. I could talk to them not as a nurse, but as a chaplain.
You grew up in Brazil, correct?
SB: Yes, I was born in Brazil. My grandparents migrated from Venice, Italy to Brazil where they worked very hard to get themselves through a hard time. They moved there during the Second World War, when people were moving out to look for a better life. So, they struggled a lot. But, I see now their struggles were not in vain, because I see now my family are in good positions. I have a judge, two lawyers, and a doctor in the family.
How did you choose religious life?
SB: I always felt a call. I used to go and pray every day. I had two other friends and they wanted to go [to the convent]. Two months later, my dad rented a car and took us to the convent. I was only 15. Can you imagine? Then, we did our profession and took our vows. And, I was missioned to the United States.
Obviously, you are a Missionary Sister of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an order founded by Mother Cabrini. What does it mean to you to come here to Cabrini University, the only Cabrinian University in the world?
SB: I think it’s very special. And, the people who I have met so far, they’re so nice. I had a passion for the [Shrine] that I was at, and seeing that the people here have the same values and are part of the Cabrini family, has encouraged me to keep on giving and do whatever I can.
What attracted you to the MSCs?
SB: It was their simplicity and their faith. I like simplicity. I knew nothing about Mother Cabrini but they gave us books to read. And, the more I read, I saw she had this big devotion to the Sacred Heart. She kept saying the Sacred Heart is the fountain of all virtues.
What do you hope to accomplish here at Cabrini, and what do you hope to send students out in the world with?
SB: If I can make a difference in someone’s life, this life will go on to make a difference in the world. I feel that we all have a mission. Sometimes, people think they have to have a vocation to do the mission. No, you don’t. Life is an attitude. So, we can have a positive attitude—a faith attitude. I have my certificate in spiritual direction and I’m also a chaplain. And, I was a nurse. I am hoping to bring these skills to my present mission, everywhere I go and in everything that I do. I hope I can make a difference in campus life.
To read the full interview with Sr. Bridget: https://www.cabrini.edu/about/media-hub/news/2022-news-releases/get-to-know-sister-bridget-zanin-msc
~ interview by Matt Nestor, Cabrini University website