The Gospel passage illustrates the waiting attitude of the disciple, on the alert for the Lord’s certain arrival, but without warning – in work clothes, with lamps lit to illuminate the night, ready to give Him the proper reception. And the wait can be long. Like Mother Lina’s life. For her, the time finally came for the Lord’s return and she was ready to open her door immediately and to welcome him when he knocked. A long wait, but her soul always ready, keen to perceive the slightest hint of his arrival.

She was born near Lodi, like Mother Cabrini, and breathed in its air and its climate, beginning with the solid faith of her own family, firmly attached to the Lord. Like Mother Cabrini she crossed continents to perform the tasks entrusted to her and acted as General Superior in Chicago, Melbourne, New York, Milan and Rome (1972-2008), concluding her existence here where the enterprise of the Holy Foundress flourished.

Hers was an active, hard-working life, always involving roles of responsibility in different fields –  in schools, hospitals, administration, leadership of local communities or of the Province or of the entire Institute of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (for 12 years), and she was discreetly ready even in her last days marked by the limits of age. “Blessed are the servants whom the Lord finds awake when he comes”. She lived her responsibility in the patience of serving, in the firmness of guiding, in loving kindness toward the sisters to be accompanied in their fidelity to their own charism and mission. At the end of her term as Mother General her religious family also recognized her motherhood in expressing it thus: “We thank you because you have been there for us in the anxieties and hopes of our personal, community and apostolic life. You have welcomed us when we sought you, helped us whenever possible, understood us in our needs and always prayed for us.”

Mother Lina felt the missionary urgency proper to the Cabrinian charism by investing her resources in the tasks entrusted to her from time to time in an ever-widening range of action, expanding the boundaries of her expertise through her rich experience and knowledge of disparate fields and situations, upheld by the motto that inspired Mother Cabrini “All things I can in Him who gives me strength.” Perseverance in the work of keeping in touch, including visits, with the situations in which the Institute’s mission operated at a time when the availability of missionary personnel was shrinking and it was necessary to revise and choose in which fields of action the Institute could operate. Her missionary impetus did not diminish, however, and she remained faithful to Mother Cabrini’s original plan that there be missionaries to help everyone open their own doors immediately when the Lord comes knocking. And those who are consecrated must be the first in readiness for such a welcome. Mother Lina exercised this vigilance in an exemplary manner. And she exercised it with the ardor of one who cultivates within herself the fire of the ever-burning lamp of faith to illuminate the awareness of her own family in the night of the world –  her family of consecrated women and laity to whom she dedicated so many formation initiatives –  conferences, meetings for updating and comparison, involvement of the Laity and insistence on the spiritual dimension of true devotion to the Sacred Heart. In addition to the reflections she communicated on this essential dimension of Cabrinian spirituality, she herself demonstrated in Codogno, through fidelity to daily adoration, how decisive the contemplative contribution was for the mission of the Institute and for the salvation of the world. It was the daily bread that was enough for the serenity and peace of an existence devoted to the Lord and to the good of the people around her.

I cannot forget her contribution to the rediscovery of the roots and memory of the Holy Foundress also through the promotion of important publications like the Epistolary. I had occasion to contact Mother Lina as General Superior because the restoration of the liturgical memory of Saint Frances Cabrini to the calendar of the universal Church was close to my heart. The reason was that Saint Frances Cabrini has been the universal patroness of Migrants since 1950. Mother Lina confirmed to me that the Institute was interested in the initiative and that it had the consent of the Lombardy Bishops’ Conference, then the interest of Bishop Fisichella and his Pontifical Council, as well as that of Migrants. The application needed the consent of the Assembly of Italian Bishops. But the Congregation for Divine Worship let it be known that it was no longer possible to update the Calendar, and the matter was dropped. It was a disappointment. I think that although the initiative did not meet with earthly success, in heaven it is now increasing the joy of the meeting between Mother Cabrini and Mother Lina who thus demonstrated her affection and her sincere devotion through her life totally spent on behalf of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart for the good of the Church and the world.

Holy Mary of Grace, grant peace and joy to her who was an effective sign of her motherhood.

Thanks to S. Ecc. Mons. Iginio Passerini for this homily


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    Linda Kaldestad on May 31, 2024

    What a loving, giving, soul, who certainly did all things in the Lord! Now Sister Lina is held, forever, in the love of God!

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