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Filled with the life of our dear Mother Theodore

It has been months of waiting patiently for the beautifully curved BUT bare walls of the new shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin to be filled with the life of our dear Mother Theodore.

Then in a matter of days, the whole place was bursting with the spirit of our amazing saint. Stunningly colorful panels, chronicling the story of her faith-filled life, offer a glimpse of what holiness might look like in pioneer Indiana.

Mother Theodore's writing desk was placed in the shrine this yesterday.

Mother Theodore’s writing desk was placed in the shrine yesterday.

Now, every day brings a new touch. Mother Theodore’s sabots (wooden shoes) are tucked into a little cubby in the forest scene on one wall. The statue of St. Joseph that she brought from France is happily ensconced on a ledge at the end of another wall. Yesterday her writing desk was moved into place, and on top was placed a letter from one of her favorites — Jean-Baptiste Bouvier, Bishop of LeMans.

Everywhere are symbols of her faith — the cross she wore around her neck; the crucifix that was ever present in her bedroom; a statue of Mary that was a focus for her love and devotion to the Mother of God.

The panels in the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

Leaves are traced on panels in the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

Leaves have been traced on panels in the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

Other symbols of her belief in Providence are imbedded in her story and in special places in the shrine. Leaves of the variety of trees of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods have been traced on panels that set-off the windows throughout the shrine. The white violet, the flower she chose for the seal of St. Mary’s Academy because of its strength and uniqueness, is etched on the doors leading to the chapel where her body is entombed. And above the coffin holding her remains is a walnut wood canopy etched with Linden leaves. Even the stained glass windows in that chapel will mirror her love of God’s creation. The Woods WAS her sanctuary. For her, God was all in all.

Will these symbols, will this new shrine touch the pilgrims who travel here and grant them grace and strength for their own journey? It already has.

Mark Joseph Costello, OFM, the liturgical design consultant and creative mastermind of this project, reminisced yesterday about the eight-year journey to create this shrine.

“Mother Theodore really meant nothing to me when I started. I mean, I just didn’t know her. But last night as I was working on the details of one of the boxes, I was thinking about my new mission in Montana. I found myself saying to her, ‘Help me out a bit.’”

There will be a grand celebration of the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin at 1 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday, Oct. 25. Everyone is invited to visit the newly renovated space that is now home to the permanent Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore and to pray in the quiet, intimate chapel where she is entombed. In addition, guests will have an opportunity to “Journey with a Saint” through new exhibits leading to the chapel. Light refreshments will be served and the day will conclude with a prayer service outdoors. It is open to persons of all faith traditions.

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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. Heather Smith on September 11, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    I am in tears as I read this. I am so anxious and excited to see this new space in it’s completion. When I was on campus this past June I snuck in to the then bare space and when I cam to the spot that was obviously her resting place I was overwhelmed. The room was already occupied by her spirit and her gift of unwavering belief that Providence Never Fails. Thank you Providence. And of course thank you St MTG for choosing me to be a daughter of the woods and for always showing up in my life when I need it the most. -Heather SMWC c/o ’92

  2. Peg Benson on September 11, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks for this evocative sneak preview.

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