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ONE of several, but Indiana’s first

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

Written together by Sister Jan Craven, Director of the Shrine, and Marketing Manager Jena Thralls

Happy Friday to all!

In just about 24 hours, you and I, along with many others, will be celebrating the new shrine together. That means one day to go! Can you believe it? Mother Theodore is one amazing saint and certainly one-of-a-kind! Speaking of ones, let’s talk about how Mother Theodore is one of 12 U.S. saints, but Indiana’s very first!
Allow me to place this Saint of God among the other 11 U.S. saints that are also as fearless and inspiring as Mother Theodore. Try and name them before you read on …

Isaac Jogues 1607-1646; 
Like our own dear Mother Theodore, Jogues was originally a teacher in France. He left that career to work among the Huron Indians in the New World around 1636. During his time in the New World, he was captured by Iroquois and imprisoned.  His letters and journals tell how he and his companions were led from village to village, how they were beaten, tortured and forced to watch as their Huron converts were mangled and killed. He eventually met his death as a martyr in 1646.

Jean de Lalande died 1646; Lalande was also part of the same missionary group that Issac Jogues was.  As a teenager, he ministered in upstate New York and Canada alongside Father Isaac Jogues. He was martyred on October 19, 1646 when he attempted to recover the slain body of Father Jogues.

Rene Goupil died 1642; Goupil was also one of the North American martyrs along with Jogues and Lalande.  He was tomahawked on September 29, 1642, for having made the Sign of the Cross on the brow of some children. Goupil tried hard to be a Jesuit but his health forced him to give up the attempt. He became a surgeon and offered his services to the missionaries.

Kateri Tekakwitha 1656-1680; Kateri was from Auriesville, New York, and she was the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She is known as “the Lily of Mohawks.” She suffered much hostility within her tribe during her faith conversion, but never lost sight of prayer.

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton 1774-1821; Something interesting about this saint is that she was actually married to a businessman, who fathered her five children. Later, her husband died of tuberculosis and his business failed. She was left broken and penniless with five children to support. Later, she found Catholicity and eventually did many great things such as start the first American Catholic Orphanage and founded the first American religious community for women.

Rose-Philippine Duchesne 1769-1852; Yet another born in France! Much like our dear Mother Theodore, Duchesne founded the first house of the Society  of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (of France) near St. Louis, Missouri, in a log cabin. She too, was hardened by the frontier and suffered financial barriers.

John Neumann 1811-1860; Neumann often claimed that one must love poverty to be a missionary, and he led a “poor” lifestyle, wearing ragged clothes on a regular basis. It is said that he passed away on a city sidewalk while running an errand, and that the poor have prayed at his tomb ever since.

Damien de Veuster 1840-1889; In the 1860s he traveled to Hawaii in the midst of the spreading disease of leprosy. At the time, this was considered a potential death sentence for Veuster. He served 16 years with the lepers before he passed away.

Marianne Cope 1838-1918; After teaching many years and serving as a superior at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse numerous times, she was called to Hawaii to take charge of the Kakaako Receiving Station outside of Honolulu, Hawaii. Like Mother Theodore, she also opened up a school for girls as well as a hospital.

Frances Xavier Cabrini 1850-1917; Like Mother Theodore, she had wanted to minister in China, but was sent to the United States. After her journey across the Atlantic Ocean from Italy, she arrived in New York only to find that the house that was intended to be used for her orphanage was not available. The archbishop told her to return to Italy. Despite him, she started an orphanage on her own elsewhere in the United States.

Katharine Drexel 1858-1955; Coming from a wealthy and well-known family at the time, society expected her to marry. Instead, she became a woman religious and used her considerable inheritance to finance their charitable works. She served with the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored for many years.

This shell mosaic shows the various journeys and missions of the Sisters of Providence in Indiana.

This shell mosaic shows the various journeys and missions of the Sisters of Providence in Indiana.

Mother Theodore Guerin 1798-1856

Then we have our dear Mother Theodore Guerin who, like these other U.S. saints listed above, suffered poverty, sickness and even hostility all to serve other people. What a woman she was! So many religious leaders were sent from overseas in America’s early years to spread peace and love during hard times, and she was one of many. She is one of us. Blessed are we Hoosiers to have this woman as the very first saint of Indiana! There are fifty states and 12 U.S. Saints total. One very special one is here with us in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.

Study these great saints in the days and weeks ahead. One thing I noticed right away is how many of them lived in the same time period as our very own Mother Theodore! See you tomorrow at the Open House!

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Jena Thralls

Jena Thralls

Jena graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She worked for the Sisters of Providence as a Marketing Manager.

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  1. Avatar Peg Benson on October 24, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Congratulations to the Sisters of Providence and all their Associates and Friends on the opening of the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Shrine, a luminous space, evocative of the spirit of Mother Theodore, her companions, the Thralls family and the life-giving Woods. Special thanks for the idea of the eight blogs which carried us day by day to October 25, 2014 and to those who labored to write them for us, adding important material to the treasured Archives.

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