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“Put yourself gently into the hands of Providence.”

The coffin of Saint Mother Theodore is shown in the chapel area of the new permanent shrine currently under construction at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.  Her remains will be set under a canopy symbolic of her beloved woods. Her name will be inscribed on the platform as well as her own words: “Put yourself gently into the hands of Providence.”

The coffin of Saint Mother Theodore is shown in the chapel area of the new permanent shrine currently under construction at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Her remains will be set under a canopy symbolic of her beloved woods. Her name will be inscribed on the platform as well as her own words: “Put yourself gently into the hands of Providence.”

What would Saint Mother Theodore want to say to pilgrims as they pray at her simple wooden coffin in the new permanent shrine now under construction in her honor at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods?

This is the question the General Council of the Sisters of Providence set out to answer as the shrine designers and architects finished creating the plans for the chapel area of the shrine and for the limestone platform that will support the coffin holding her remains in that space.

Besides inscribing her name on that platform, they have allowed room for a quote. What one quote from among her myriad number of letters, circular letters and other instructions should be chosen?

The council issued an invitation to sisters and associates to offer their suggestions. But when those submissions arrived, the decision wasn’t any easier. In fact, the favored quote was one that is already inscribed on Mother Theodore’s Celtic Cross marker in the convent cemetery, “I sleep but my heart watches over this house which I have built.”

Mother Theodore didn’t say this; its source is scripture. That quote is about her, not written by her. What would Mother Theodore herself say?

We have learned that a shrine should point the pilgrim toward God. We want the last thought pilgrims take with them to be how to live like Mother Theodore, and she lived with unfailing trust in Providence. In fact, Providence themes will predominate her permanent shrine from the time pilgrims begin their “Journey with a Saint” at the front door of Providence Center till they enter the chapel area of the shrine to pray at her coffin.

With that inspiration, the following will be inscribed on the platform with her remains:

“Put yourself gently into the hands of Providence.”

Interestingly enough, the quote comes from a letter written by Mother Theodore, dated March 27, 1854, to Cecile (Le Fer De La Motte) Choisnet, the younger sister of Sisters Mary Joseph and St. Francis Xavier. It is hoped that the encouragement Mother Theodore offers her “beloved Cecile” will provide inspiration for all who visit her shrine.

“You will not be offended, and you will allow me to say, and repeat, that you ought not to give way to uneasiness about the future. Put yourself gently into the hands of Providence. Trusting all your affairs to Him and putting them also under the protection of Mary and Joseph, you will see that all will be well.”

—Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

You can view photo updates of the shrine construction progress here.

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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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2 Comments

  1. Debbie on December 13, 2013 at 11:45 am

    This is such a beautiful reminder of the trust Saint Mother Theodore had it Providence. Whenever I need to make a decision I use this and put myself gently into the hands of Providence for I know that I will be well supported. Thank you for this beautiful inspiration and reminder of the trust I should have in Providence.

  2. Jenny Nowalk, PA on December 28, 2013 at 8:45 am

    I love visiting this future home for Mother Theodore. I remember visiting her in the main chapel just a few years ago. I hardly knew who Mother Theodore was/is at that time. But I was drawn to her and just wanted to remain in her presence. It was a privilege to put my hands on the hand made box holding her peacefully. She continues to draw me to closer to God through the Sisters and Associates! Thank you Mother Theodore. At the close of 2013, I look forward to watching your new resting place, as place for many to sit with you, develop and come to fruition.

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