Kyle Meadors, a Providence Associate who lives in Chicago, has a special place in his heart for his father, and for Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. He and his associate-companion, Sister Pat Mahoney, went to All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, Ill., recently to honor Kyle’s relationship with his father and the foundress of the Sisters of Providence.
Kyle’s father was a hard-working man, who demonstrated his love by the way he lived his life. After his father’s massive heart attack, Kyle and his father drew very close.
“My father worked for 36 years at Gerber. He worked long hours, starting around 5 a.m. He would come home from work exhausted, but from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. he would watch my favorite TV show with me, ‘The Golden Girls,’ Kyle said. He had a massive heart attack in 2002. We did become close after that. Although my father was not the hugging, ‘I love you’ type, there was never a moment that I doubted that he loved me. He showed it through his hard work to take care of our family.”
On June 8, 2006, at age 54, Kyle’s father took his own life. Kyle was 21 at the time.
“Shortly after his death, he was enrolled in the Blessed Sacrament Association of the Sisters of Providence. Along with the enrollment card was a holy card of then Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin. I couldn’t believe there was an American “Blessed” that I had never heard about. I wrote to the SPs to request more information on Mother Theodore and Sister Marie Kevin Tighe wrote me a very moving letter,” Kyle recalled.
“About a week after I received her letter, UPS came to my front door with a box from her. In the box were all of the Congregational history books along with a hardbound copy of Mother Theodore’s ‘Journals and Letters.’ This all happened during a very dark period of my life as I was having a hard time coping with my father’s suicide, but Providence sent Mother Theodore to help me along the way.
Kyle grew up in Arkansas with his family, and moved to Springfield, Mo., shortly after his father’s death. Kyle said it’s customary for local cemeteries to sponsor Decoration Day, a day when families of those buried in cemeteries can gather for fellowship, food and music. For years, Kyle returned to Vaught Cemetery in the Arkansas mountains for Decoration Day, and on his father’s death anniversary. Now living in Chicago, travel is harder, although he plans to make a trip there soon.
So, recently, he and Sister Pat were lunching in Des Plaines when they decided to visit All Saints Cemetery. Neither had ever seen the statue of Saint Mother Theodore that is placed at the cemetery.
“I thought the statue was extraordinary. Sister Pat loved that the statue wasn’t stiff. Mother Theodore is in motion. Looking around the cemetery at all of the other statues, they were just that; stiff and cold. This statue showed Mother Theodore involved with educating children. I thought it was very beautiful,” Kyle said.
“Sister Pat created a prayer that we read together celebrating my father’s life. We offered prayer and meditation standing in front of Mother Theodore’s status. The rest of our conversation was about losing my father and how difficult it was. Sister Pat talked about losing her best friend, Sister Mary Alice Zander (first director of Providence Associates). There were some very beautiful things that were said,” Kyle added.
“Mother Theodore is a great model and friend of mine. During this last year of my own declining health, Mother Theodore has been there to help me climb the difficult mountains that I have encountered along the way. My friend, Michael, told me once that ‘Faith can move mountains, but bring a shovel.’ That was something he learned from his dear friend, Rue McClanahan,” Kyle said.
Any coincidence that Rue McClanahan was a member of “The Golden Girls” cast?