Congress passed a bill on Feb. 5 that would rename the Dyker Heights Post Office after the New York-based saint Mother Cabrini, infuriating some locals, who love Cabrini — and hate the postal service!
“The post offices in NYC are pieces of f–– sh–. Why the hell would someone want to be named after one?” said Nick, a Dyker Heights resident, who did not give his last name.
The dubious tribute comes after Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, snubbed the saint in her She Built NYC statue-building initiative in August, when the Cabrini won a public nomination process by a landslide, only for the city’s first lady to build a statue for seven other historic women.
The move sparked a massive controversy, and Congressman Max Rose introduced his bill to rename the Dyker Heights Post Office after the beloved saint a few weeks later — pleasing many local Catholics and the Brooklyn Diocese.
“I think it’s fabulous!” said Bensonhurst resident Ursula Agota, a parishioner at Saint Frances Cabrini Church. “Have to thank Max!”
The pastor at St. Frances Cabrini Church also lauded the change, but argued that the new name doesn’t replace a city-funded statue.
“We’re very happy. It’s very nice…[But] the city still has to recognize her,” said Father Guy Sbordone, who added that he wished Rose had contacted the parish about the renaming. “It would’ve been nice for the parish to participate.”
However, critics argued against associating the saint with the notoriously disorganized Dyker Heights Post Office — which Yelp reviewers awarded 2.5 stars and called “terrible!” and “the worst lying deceiving lazy post office in the city” — and charged that the beloved saint deserved better.
“If you think about a post office, it has a very negative reputation,” said Bob Capano, a conservative columnist and the former Brooklyn Director to Congressman Max Rose’s predecessor, Vito Fossella (R-Dyker Heights). “When’s the last time someone walked into a post office and said, ’What a beautiful building! What a model of efficiency!’”
McCray’s snub infuriated Bensonhurst parishioners at St. Frances Cabrini Parish, who had mobilized en masse to vote for Mother Cabrini in the hopes of honoring the patron saint of immigrants, who built dozens of schools and hospitals across the city.
The Mayor’s office argued that public nominations were merely suggestions, not votes, and said that they’d consider the saint for round two of the contest — but Catholics and Italian-Americans viewed the snub as biased against Italian-Americans. In October, more than 1,000 Catholics marched in protest of the snub, and actor Chazz Palminteri called out de Blasio on live radio after claiming the decision to exclude Cabrini was “racist.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo put the scuffle to rest when he announced on Columbus Day his plans to assemble a 19-person committee that would oversee the construction of a Mother Cabrini statue in Battery Park. One week later, Rose announced his bill to rename the Dyker Heights Post Office
And love or hate the congressman’s postal tribute, there’s some optimism that the saint will provide a holy inspiration for the workers within.
“Maybe having that name would improve it a little,” said Father Sbordone.