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St. Mother Théodore Guérin

St. Mother Théodore Guérin by Julie Lonneman

Artwork Narrative:

"Go, sell everything you own, and give the money to the poor... then come, follow me". These words have inspired countless Christians throughout the history of the Church to follow Christ in a life of radical poverty, trusting in Divine Providence. 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. 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.
—Pope Benedict XVI, from the canonization homily of Saint Mother Théodore

France/United States, 1798-1856.

Her feast day is October 3.

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Mother Théodore was the daughter of Laurent and Isabelle Guérin. She joined the Sisters of Providence at Ruillé-sur-Loir, France on 18 August 1823, taking the name Sister Saint Theodore, and making her final vows on 5 September 1831. She taught in Rennes and Soulaines, France.

Mother Théodore was sent with five other sisters (Sister Olympiade Boyer, Sister Saint Vincent Ferrer Gagé, Sister Basilide Sénéschal, Sister Mary Xavier Lerée and Sister Mary Liguori Tiercin) to the diocese of Vincennes, Indiana, USA on 22 October 1840. They established the Academy of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on 4 July 1841 at Terre Haute, Indiana, the first Catholic women's liberal-arts college in the United States. She established schools at Jasper, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Village, Vincennes, Montgomery, Madison, Terre Haute, Fort Wayne, Evansville, North Madison, Lanesville and Columbus, all in Indiana, and Saint Francisville in Illinois.

She founded an orphanage for girls and one for boys in Vincennes, Indiana. She opened pharmacies where medicines were dispensed free to the poor at Vincennes and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. Mother Théodore oversaw construction of a motherhouse for the Sisters of Providence and several additions to the Academy.

Born: October 2, 1798 at Etables-sur-Mer, Brittany, France as Anne-Thérèse Guérin

Died: May 14, 1856 at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, of natural causes; buried at Church of the Immaculate Conception, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, USA

Venerable: July 22, 1992 by Saint John Paul II

Beatified: October 25, 1998 by Saint John Paul II at Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City

Canonized: October 15, 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI