Isabelle Guerin sensed that her daughter, Anne-Thérèse, was called by God, but she was reluctant to let her daughter leave to enter a religious congregation. Finally, one evening, Isabelle said, “My daughter, you may leave now; you have your mother’s consent and her blessing. I can no longer refuse God the sacrifice that he asks of me.”
Less than two months before her 25th birthday – on August 18, 1823 – Anne-Thérèse entered the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé sur-Loir, France, a young community of women religious who served as teachers and cared for the sick poor. As a religious, she was known as Sister St. Theodore. Below you can read the vow pronounced by Saint Mother Theodore.
Vow pronounced by Saint Mother Theodore
Eternal and almighty God, my creator and sovereign Lord, animated by the desire of consecrating myself to your service under the special protection of the holy Virgin Mary, mother of God, of my holy Guardian Angel, and of all the holy patrons and protectors of the Community, of my full, free and deliberate will, I Sister N.N., make to your divine majesty, for … the vows of poverty, of chastity, of obedience, and of devoting myself to the service of the poor, either for the instruction of youth or for the care of the sick, in the union of charity in this society: very humbly begging you, O my God, through the merits of Jesus Christ crucified, whom I choose for my divine Spouse, that, as it has pleased you to grant me the grace of consecrating myself to you by these vows, you will be pleased to accord me abundant grace to fulfill them faithfully. Grant, Lord, that I may be until my last breath a perfect image of Jesus crucified, and a victim entirely immolated to your will and your love. Amen.
Throughout the history of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, each Sister of Providence has stood before an assembled faith community and used the following words to proclaim her life as a religious:
Almighty and eternal God, wishing to consecrate myself to your service, under the special protection of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, of my full and deliberate will, I Sister N.N., take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience according to the Constitutions approved by the Holy See for this Congregation of the Sisters of Providence. Grant me, O my God, the grace to be faithful to them until death. Amen.
(Sept. 8, 1825)