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Remembering Sister St. Francis Xavier

Sister St. Francis Xavier Le Fer

After the arrival of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and her companions to the Woods in October of 1840, the small Congregation was beset with many losses and trials. One of the most grievous and personal losses to Saint Mother Theodore was the death of Sister St. Francis Xavier, who died Jan. 31, 1856.

Irma Le Fer, as she was known before entering the Sisters of Providence in Ruillé, France, arrived at the Woods in November 1841. Sister St. Francis ministered as the mistress of novices and second assistant. A woman of frail health, she persevered and became a source of great strength and comfort to Mother Theodore.
Mother Theodore expressed her great love of Sister St. Francis in the Feb. 3, 1856, letter circular to the Congregation. It reads in part:
“You will share the deep sorrow in which we are plunged at Saint Mary’s when you read this letter, announcing the immense loss we have just sustained in the death of our dear Sister St. Francis Xavier, whom our Lord has called to Himself. She departed this life towards two o’clock in the afternoon of January thirty-first, after eight days of severe convulsions which from the beginning left us very little hope.
“You do not expect me, my dear daughters, to write a eulogy of her whom we have so many reasons to regret, of her whose absence leaves such a void in the Community. Her name alone suffices  to bring to mind all that is sweetest, purest, and most attractive in virtue. She was for those who knew her the ideal of religious perfection. Not only have we unanimously considered her the saint of our Congregation, but persons of the world, even those of a different faith, could not behold her angelic exterior without being led to the thought of God.” (“Mother Theodore Guerin: Journals and Letters,” pages 422-423)
Saint Mother Theodore Guerin left this world a few short months later on May 14, 1856.

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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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