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Women’s History Month: English as a Second Language

“The Eighth American Saint” describes how the French sisters learned English after arriving at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in October of 1840:

“Sister Theodore made ready to greet the new postulants as best she could in her few words of English. One of them was a French girl, Josephine Pardeillan, from Alsace; she had arrived earlier and had been living for some time with the Picquets at Sainte-Maire [Ill.]. Two others came from Vincennes — Frances Theriac and Genevieve Dukent. The fourth, who had also been for some time in Vincennes, was Mary Doyle. She had been Sister Gabriella, a Sister of Charity of Emmitsburg [Md.], who Bishop de la Hailandière [image on this page] had persuaded to leave her own congregation and join the Sisters of Providence.

“Sister Theodore was not happy about accepting ex-members from other congregations; in fact, the rule forbade it. But in this case the bishop had acted before the sisters came, without reference to her judgment, and she was not sufficiently established to take a stand. Then, too, it seemed that in Mary Doyle they had a valuable acquisition. She was about twenty-five years old, well educated in French and English, a good musician, and reputed to be an excellent teacher. She knew the locale well, for she had taught at Vincennes for almost three years. She was what Sister Theodore needed most of all: an English teacher. To learn English was a vital need for the French sisters, and Mary Doyle was willing to teach them.” (page 84)

To learn more about the interesting twists in the life of Mary Doyle, visit The Gift Shop to purchase “The Eighth American Saint.”

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Connie McCammon

Connie McCammon worked in the communications office for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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