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Weekly Bulletin March 12, 2023
by Terrie Evans
Our San Antonio Church Community is invited for a special screening of “The End of the Santa Fe Trail” to be shown at the Mater Dei Chapel at the College of Mount St. Joseph on Friday, March 24th. The movie is about the life of Sr. Blandina Segale, Servant of God, taken from her original journals which are a collection of her writings she did throughout her service to others. In 2007 on the 85th Anniversary of San Antonio Church, and before the dedication of the Memorial Brick Garden, Sr. Victoria Marie Forde from the at the Motherhouse invited Rita Miller, Linda Kelsey and Terrie Evans to research her journals. Those handwritten entries told us of the long days she spent serving those lovingly and with respect who called upon her for help. Sr. Blandina’s journals were republished in 2014 after the Most Reverend Michael J. Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe along with Allen Sanchez officially opened the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of “The Servant of God” Sr. Blandina. The Congregation of the Cause of Saints at the Vatican gave permission to open the cause, the first time in the 400-year history of Catholicism in New Mexico.
The Archdiocese proceeded to start an inquiry into the dedication and holiness of a woman religious who had worked to change the history of the Southwest. Many interviews were held to state the good works of Sr. Blandina in Trinidad, Colorado, in New Mexico and in Cincinnati. In 2015, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Inquiry Board presented the Acts of the Diocesan Inquiry of the Heroic Virtues of the Servant of God, Sister Blandina Segale after a group of parishioners from San Antonio Church, Joe Cupito, Terrie Evans, Buddy La Rosa, the late Don Moore and Vic Minella met at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Offices to be interviewed for this process. Sr. Blandina helped establish St. Joseph Hospital In Albuquerque, New Mexico and a few years later, started the Santa Maria Settlement House and the St. Anthony Welfare Center which became the start of our church in 1922.
The Sisters of Charity in Delhi have always kept us informed about recent news of Sr. Blandina and we shared with them the dedication she and Sr. Justina had to our grandparents, parents and the many neighborhood families who settled in the small community of Little Italy. They taught our ancestors so much and gave them the tools to establish their own place to worship in so they would not lose their Catholic Faith. Sr. Blandina (1850-1941) along with Sr. Justina (1846-1929) and the Segale family lived through their own journey to a better life as they too were part of the influx of Italian immigrants who knew what it was like to settle in an unfamiliar place.
Sr. Blandina was born in Cicagna, Italy on January 23, 1850 to Father, Francesco and Mother Giovanna (Malatesta) Segale who came to the United States in 1854 with their 5 children. Francesco became a fruit merchant with a small stand that eventually became a produce store. Sr. Blandina (Maria Rosa Segale) attended schools conducted by the sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Sisters of Mercy and then attended and graduated from Mount St. Vincent Academy where she met the Sisters of Charity. Maria Rosa (Sr. Blandina) saw the good works of the Sisters of Charity as they tended to orphans and as nurses during the Civil War. In 1866 when Maria Rosa was 16, she joined the Community of the Sisters of Charity on September 13, 1866 with her sister Maria Maddalena, Sr. Justina joining her the same year with both living the motto of the Sisters of Charity “The Charity of Christ urges Us.” In 1872, Sr. Blandina was sent to Trinidad, Colorado (The Sr. Blandina Wellness Garden with a life size statue of her likeness was dedicated July 18, 2021) where she taught school and became a staunch defender of the Native American and Mexican community. By 1877, she took charge of many causes, raising money to support St. Vincent Hospital working with those desperate individuals even making coffins for them and securing their final resting place.
Four years later, she continued her work in Albuquerque, New Mexico where Sr. Blandina continued teaching, built convents, new schools, and a homeless shelter, The Wayfair House. She would return to Trinidad and Pueblo, Colorado before returning to Ohio in 1893 working with her older sibling, Sr. Justina “To see if they could do anything for the poor Italian immigrants”. In 1897, they founded the Santa Maria Institute one of the 1st Catholic Settlement Houses in the United States that offered many services to give aid to those desperate individuals with Sister Justina saying, “ There is so much to do and slender means to do it”. In 1900, Sr. Blandina returned to Albuquerque to help build St. Joseph Hospital now known as Catholic Health Initiative for children in need of early childhood services. In 1922, after devoting many years within the Italian Community in South Fairmount, Sisters Blandina (Maria Rosa ) Segale, Justina (Maria Maddalena) Segale along with Sister Euphrasia( Mary Ann) Hartman established a small storefront church for those immigrant Italians to call their own, San Antonio Italian Church.
The dedicated Sisters of Charity were concerned for these families with a language barrier would not be able to practice their Catholic Faith. They kept a watchful eye on the new contingent of these now proud new American citizens as they learned the language, acclimated and prospered while caring for their new church. In 1931, after her successful work in Cincinnati, Sr. Blandina was on her way to Rome, Italy for the journey funded by her students to petition the Pope in the cause for Sainthood of Mother Elizabeth Seton and to re visit the town of her birth Cicagna (On July 11, 1998, the town square would be dedicated to her), seventy-seven years later. In 1933 at the age of 83, Sr. Blandina retired to the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse as she stayed connected with her Segale, Becker and Stagge Families and her many friends. She also received visits from San Antonio Church Parishioners who relayed news of the neighborhood and the construction of the New San Antonio Italian Church to be dedicated on Sunday, December 1, 1940. Sadly, Sr. Blandina could not be with all those very grateful families on that milestone day although, they said a quiet prayer of thanksgiving in her honor.
Even though Sr. Blandina Segale passed on February 23, 1941, she is still with all of us guiding us on our journey at San Antonio Church, Generations later we will never forget Sr. Blandina (1850-1941) Sr. Justina (1846-1929), or Sr.. Euphrasia 1887-1969). Please join all of us from San Antonio Church for the special showing of “At The End of The Santa Fe Trail “on Friday evening March 24th at 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:00PM). For tickets www.purplepass,com/sisterblandina.