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A niece remembers Saint Mother Theodore

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

The only surviving sibling of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin was her sister, Marie Guerin-Le Touzé. Three of her daughters entered the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé-sur-Loir, France, and came to the United States to serve at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Only one of the women remained in the Congregation.

M. Therese (born Feb. 9, 1827) entered the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé-sur-Loir, France, in 1846 and received the religious name of Sister Mary Theodore. She came to Indiana Dec. 24, 1854, nearly two years before Saint Mother Theodore’s death on May 14, 1856. She would remain in the Congregation for the rest of her life and die Nov. 19, 1901. She is buried at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Sister Mary Theodore’s sisters, Frances and Therese, also entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé-sur-Loir, France.

Frances was given the religious name Sister Mary Ligouri and Therese was known as Sister Mary Isabelle. Both came to the Woods, but they left to return to the secular world back in France.

A daguerreotype image of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

Frances married and had children, one of whom was a son named Theodore. Theodore became a priest. Therese never married. She taught English for a number of years.

The following are some notes about Saint Mother Theodore that Sister Mary Theodore recorded for the Congregation.

  • “She [Mother Theodore] was consecrated to the Blessed Virgin at her birth and always was dressed in white or blue until she was 10 years old.”
  • “She made her First Communion when she was 10 years old. She was very smart for her years. She vowed herself to be a religious — not exactly a vow, but a solemn promise made to God and permitted by her confessor. She always said she had a secret that nobody could guess.”
  • “And nobody would have guessed that, for she was a little villain — not bad, but mischievous and leading in all the pranks of the children in the neighborhood. She would run away from school, not because she did not like to study but because the others were too slow, and the teacher, a prim old maid, was dry.”
  • “Naughty as she was, she liked to pray alone, and sometimes when she ran away she would hide among the rocks on the seashore and meditate.”
  • “She often said she learned to pray among the rocks where she could look out upon the vast expanse of water. She had heard her mother say the sea was the symbol of eternity. She never lost the impression; in later life she would say, ‘Eternity, oh, eternity!’ It would make us shudder to hear her sometimes, but to her it meant heaven, and she showed great longing to possess it.”
  • “She loved birds; she loved all creatures except snakes and mosquitoes.”
  • “She loved everybody with a big heart, even me. I was so rough she was ashamed of me. My father was a brusque man, though he had a good heart. It was his rearing that spoiled us. My mother suffered from his manners, for she was gentle though gay, like my aunt, Mother Theodore.”

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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