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Sister Nilla (Donna) Cabrera, O.S.B. May 7, 1954 - July 3, 2014 Benedictine Sister of Florida
Sister Nilla (Donna) Cabrera, O.S.B. passed into the open arms of her Lord and Savior on July 3, 2014. Her beautiful smiling face was her greeting to everyone, though for some years Sister suffered complications from diabetes and for the past year waged a valiant battle with cancer. Sister Nilla is survived by her father, Sebastian Cabrera, brother Anthony, sister-in-law Cassandra, niece Lily and two nephews Michael and Matthew. Born in Tampa, Florida on May 7, 1954 to Lily (Caruso) and Sebastian Cabrera, the family was well-know and respected in the Ybor City community and were active members of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish. Sister Nilla attended Chamberlain High School, Hillsborough Community College and Saint Leo University. In adulthood Sister Nilla was an active parishioner at St. Paul's Catholic Church in Tampa. The path that led Sister to the religious life began in childhood. At the age of five, Sister viewed two movies, "The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima" and "The Miracle." Both made a profound impression with each portraying a story of strong religious beliefs. Though they awakened a desire in the youngster, it would not be until later in life that such a stirring would return. As told by Sister Nilla, "My teenage years were as typical as any teen - attending parties, dances, movies and enjoying clothers, jewelry and the like. But within me there was always something missing." "The years passed and I continued to feel an emptiness though life was good." Then at the age of 33, Sister became very ill and almost died. While recuperating, Sister spoke of watching Pope John Paul II on television during his visit to Miami. His words were moving, but again whatever was stirred with her was ignored. At some point Sister Nilla listened to the calling and then began a long spiritual journey travelling to many destinations as a "seeker." She became very active again in her parish and made multiple vocation retreats. Eventually, a close friend who was considering becoming a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Florida brought Sister Nilla to Holy Name Monastery for a visit. "I fell in love with the community that day. My friend's dream did not develop, but mine did." On August 18, 1991 entered as a postulant and made her perpetual monastic profession at Holy Name Monastery on May 9, 1998. Sister earned CNA certification and worked for several years at Heartland in Zephyrhills. She also worked as a client advocate at Sunrise in Pasco. For the past four years Sister Nilla resided at Heritage Nursing Home in Dade City where she ministered to the other client and staff providing spiritual guidance and friendship. She cruised the halls in her wheelchair and greeted everyone who passed her doorway. No one was a stranger to Sister Nilla. Her loving family and Sisters in Christ will miss Sister Nilla and her positive outlook. Her cheerful acceptance of God's will in her suffering was an example to us all. Services were held on Sunday evening July 6th at 7 pm and a Funeral Mass on Monday July 7th at 9:30 am. In lieu of flowers, the Cabrera family asks that donations in Sister Nilla's name be made to the Benedictine Sisters of Florida for the new Holy Name Monastery, PO Box 2450, St. Leo, FL 33574.

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