Image: Statue can be found outside the Church of the Immaculate Conception and the adjacent Shrine to Saint Mother Theodora Guérin, which is her final resting place. | Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. Image courtesy and © Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Saint Theodora Guérin
Saint of the Day for October 3
(October 2, 1798 – May 14, 1856)
Saint Theodora Guérin’s Story
Trust in God’s Providence enabled Mother Theodore to leave her homeland, sail halfway around the world, and found 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 Saint Theodore. An illness during novitiate left her with lifelong fragile health, but that did not keep her from becoming an accomplished teacher.
At the invitation of the bishop of Vincennes, Indiana, she and five sisters were sent in 1840 to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, to teach and to care for the sick poor. She was to establish a motherhouse and novitiate. Only later did she learn that her French superiors had already decided the sisters in the United States should form a new religious congregation under her leadership.
She 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?”
She is buried in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, and was beatified in 1998. Eight years later, she was canonized.
God’s work gets done by people ready to take risks and to work hard—always remembering what Saint Paul told the Corinthians, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.” Every holy person has a strong sense of God’s Providence.