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Mother Theodore Guerin

 

 MOTHER THÉODORE GUÉRIN
(1798-1856)

     Mother Theodore Guerin was a French woman who set up a chapel in a log cabin in the American frontier land and went on to establish a girls' college Indiana, (St. Mary-of-the-Woods College) which enrolled its first student in 1841, and a religious order, the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods.

     Guerin, a frail and sickly woman known for her determination, endured harsh conditions on what was American frontier land in the early 1800s and resisted the objections of a local bishop in pursuing her dream of establishing Catholic education for the pioneers.

     After a long journey by sea and land, Mother Guerin, who was born in Brittany in 1798, and five other French nuns, turned a log cabin into a chapel. By the time of her death in 1856, her order was running schools and orphanages in Indiana.

 

Excerpted from Pope Benedict XVI's Homily

Among these generous disciples of Christ was a young Frenchwoman, who responded unreservedly to the call of the divine Teacher. Mother Théodore Guérin entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence in 1823, and she devoted herself to the work of teaching in schools. Then, in 1839, she was asked by her Superiors to travel to the United States to become the head of a new community in Indiana.

After their long journey over land and sea, the group of six Sisters arrived at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. There they found a simple log-cabin chapel in the heart of the forest. They knelt down before the Blessed Sacrament and gave thanks, asking God's guidance upon the new foundation.

With great trust in Divine Providence, Mother Théodore overcame many challenges and persevered in the work that the Lord had called her to do. By the time of her death in 1856, the Sisters were running schools and orphanages throughout the State of Indiana.

In her own words, "How much good has been accomplished by the Sisters of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods! How much more good they will be able to do if they remain faithful to their holy vocation!".

Mother Théodore Guérin is a beautiful spiritual figure and a model of the Christian life. She was always open for the missions the Church entrusted to her, and she found the strength and the boldness to put them [the missions] into practice in the Eucharist, in prayer and in an infinite trust in Divine Providence. Her inner strength moved her to address particular attention to the poor, and above all to children.