Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin

Anne Therese Guerin was born in the year 1798 in France. A Nation torn apart by the French Revolution where only a few years before the revolutionaries had be-headed the French King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.

France during these traumatic years were certainly in need of holy men and women and through the Grace of God, many great Saints were born during this era in time and to a country that needed them, blood drenched France.

Anne Therese was a very practical young girl who had the good luck to be educated by her uncle who was a seminarian. Perhaps it was here that Anne Therese first felt a calling to the Religious life as she learnt from her uncle and observed many Catholics who were suffering for their faith. This also instilled in Anne Therese a hardiness born through adversity as her parents struggled to provide a living for their family.

Unfortunately for the devout Guerin family Anne Therese's father died leaving the family destitute and their mother in despair as she struggled to provide a viable living in such difficult circumstances.

During those times it was not easy being Catholic in war ravaged France let alone to be Catholic and poor in a country that was propagating atheism and where killing catholics were the order of the day. As the enlightenment gained ground more and more people began questioning the Authority of the Catholic Church and many peoples faith began to waver in the face of such an onslaught.

This did not affect Anne Guerin who was solid in her beliefs and strong enough to withstand the insults that were being thrown at her beloved Church. Because of her fathers death Anne Therese postponed her longing to join a Religious community and instead focused on helping her poor mother who was an invalid and her sister to rise above their circumstances and to make a living in order to put food on the table and clothes on their back.

It was not until Anne Therese reached the age of 25 that she was finally able to obey her great longing to enter the Religious life. Where she joined the Sisters of Providence and took her first Vows a year later, she also took the name Sister Theodore. This very practical woman would prove herself to be a very able and gifted Nun when it came to mathematics she truly shone and shared this knowledge with her students. Though Sister Theodore worked hard her health at times would become delicate as she strived to give of her best to her community through teaching and assisting the poor in her area.

A new call would touch the heart of this most holy Sister when the Bishop of Vincennes, Indiana requested the help of the Sisters of Providence with the assistance of Bishop Celestin de la Hailandiere the Sisters took up the challenge and Mother Theodore with her fellow sisters set sail for the new frontier, America they arrived in the year 1840.

Upon arriving in Indiana conditions were harsh which was in stark contrast to the way of French living that this little band of sisters was used too, but nothing would deter Mother Theodore from her mission to reach out to young people and educate them so as to rise and make something of their lives. Within the first year of arrival Mother Theodore had opened a school for girls which would become known as The College of Our Lady of the Woods.

Though her health was fragile and Mother Theodore could only consume food that had been watered down this did not deter her from doing God's Will and serving Him by helping all the girls who came to them for assistance. Mother Theodore was also plagued with doubts about her own worthiness and ability to carry such an onerous duty, but she was able to put her feelings aside and focus on the work at hand. Rather than be overcome by her disabilities she overcame them through sheer hard work and a greatly developed prayer life from which she gained her inner strength.

Both Mother Theodore and her Sisters struggled gallantly and with steadfastness during what would be many American winters as they lived in their wood cabin which had become their home and their community. There would be many days and nights where Mother Theodore and her devoted sisters had little or no food, this did not stop the sisters from carrying forth their duties with love and compassion for all they met.

Through the courage that Mother Theodore always displayed despite her own doubts about her abilities her fellow Sisters would remain steadfast as they looked towards their Mother Superior who guided them with wise words and gentle humor. Though times were hard and misunderstandings occurred Mother Theodore always encouraged prayer most especially in front of the Blessed Sacrament and to simply go forwards without spending too much time on past regrets. Mother Theodore truly embodied the pioneer spirit that was so much needed for that tough land which was Indiana.

During her life Mother Theodore was able to open many more schools, and though she struggled with her health her spirit always remained completely in love with her Divine Spouse.

Mother Theodore Guerin died in the year 1856.

Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin was beatified in the year 1998 by Pope John Paul II.

Her Canonization is now pending in Rome.

Some Quotes

"What strength the soul draws from prayer! In the midst of a storm, how sweet is the calm it finds in the heart of Jesus."

"Put yourself gently into the hands of Providence."

"With Jesus, what shall we have to fear?"

"In all and everywhere may the will of God be done."

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.
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