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Mother Theodore was just here…

During my last ministry at Guerin Prep High School, we strongly suggested that the new campus minister visit Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, so she could better understand Mother Theodore Guerin for whom the school was named and the mission of the Sisters of Providence, the group founded by Mother Theodore 173 years ago this Oct. 22.

Fest attendees praying at the interim Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore.

Fest attendees praying at the interim Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore.

When she returned, she told me, “Your sisters talk about Mother Theodore like she was just here last week!”

This story came back to me as I participated in the activities of our Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Fest this past weekend and witnessed people meeting Mother Theodore.

And whether it was a first time encounter for some or a hundredth time meeting for others (like our sisters), her presence seemed strongest as each pilgrim approached the simple wooden box holding Mother Theodore’s remains in the interim shrine space in our Church of the Immaculate Conception.

The tears of some as they came near the shrine told me that they had burdens they needed to lay down. Others touched the coffin, perhaps looking for reassurance and something to hold on to. Still others walked away with smiles of joy as if they had felt God’s love in a deeper or stronger way.

I suspect this is why we create places like shrines, or take pilgrimages, or show up at activities like a Mother Theodore Guerin Fest. We all need refuge, healing, peace. We need the presence of each other and the hope that comes from gathered prayer.

We need to remember that others, like Mother Theodore, have gone before us, stayed true to the path marked out by Providence and laid a foundation of faith that lives on.

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Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski was elected General Superior of the Sisters of Providence in 2016. She has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. Previously she ministered as a teacher, as communication and development director for the sisters and their ministries and as a member of elected leadership on the general council of the Sisters of Providence.

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