Feast of the day

Feast Of The Day

10/3/2020 12:00:00 AM

 With trust in God’s providence, St. Mother Théodore left her homeland, sailed halfway around the world, and founded a new religious congregation.

        Born in Etables, France, Anne-Thérèse Guerin’s life was shattered by her father’s murder when she was 15. For several years, she cared for her mother and younger sister. She entered the Sisters of Providence in 1823, taking the name Sister St. Théodore. An illness during novitiate left her with lifelong fragile health, but that did not keep her from becoming an accomplished teacher.

        In 1840, at the invitation of the bishop of Vincennes, Sister St. Théodore and five sisters were sent to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana to teach and care for the poor. There, she established a motherhouse and novitiate. For several months, the sisters and their hosts lived packed into a small frontier farmhouse. Only later did they learn that their French superiors wanted them to form a new religious congregation.

        Despite their humble resources, in July 1841 Sister St. Théodore and the sisters opened St. Mary's Academy for Young Ladies, which later became Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She did have doubts concerning the success of the institution. She wrote in her journal, "It is astonishing that this remote solitude has been chosen for a novitiate and especially for an academy. All appearances are against it." For more than a decade, from 1841 to 1852, this Academy was the only Catholic boarding school for girls in Indiana.

        Sister St. Théodore and her community persevered despite fires, crop failures, prejudice against Catholic women religious, misunderstandings and separation from their original religious congregation. She once told her sisters, “Have confidence in the Providence that so far has never failed us. The way is not yet clear. Grope along slowly. Do not press matters; be patient, be trustful.” Another time, she asked, “With Jesus, what shall we have to fear?” Sister St. Théodore proved to be a skilled businesswoman and leader as well as a beloved general superior.

        St. Mother Théodore is buried in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She is known for her advancement of education by founding numerous parish schools. She was beatified by St. Pope John Paul II in October 1998 and canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic church on October 15, 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.