Steeped in tradition: The Saint Anne Procession
For more than 170 years, the Sisters of Providence have brought to fruition a promise Saint Mother Theodore Guerin made by participating in the annual Saint Anne Procession.
In 1844, on the way back to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from France, the ship carrying Saint Mother Theodore nearly overturned. Upon safe arrival, she promised the Sisters of Providence would honor Saint Anne – the patron saint of sailors – into the future.
“Mother Theodore had a great devotion to Saint Anne,” Sister Marianne Mader said.
When she returned to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Saint Mother Theodore had a small log chapel built in honor of Saint Anne because her prayer was answered for safe passage. However, nearly 30 years later, the chapel began to collapse. Consequently, in 1876, a stone structure, which stands to this day, replaced the log chapel. It was lined with shells from the Wabash River.
The traditional procession took place on Friday, July 24, as sisters, Providence Associates, Sisters of Providence staff and others took part.
All gathered in the Providence Community Room and following introductory prayers and readings, separate processions began. One, an inside procession, proceeded to the Wall Shrine of Saint Anne in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, while the other proceeded to the Saint Anne Shell Chapel.
After both processions reached their destinations, those taking part continued with their prayers.
Sister Rosemary Borntrager coordinated the procession.
Sister Rosemary said last year, approximately 57 to 60 persons, including sisters, Providence Associates, staff and a student from the college, took part in the procession.
“This takes place in fulfillment of a vow,” Sister Rosemary said. “Mother Theodore promised the sisters would do this.”
Sister Marianne, who has been a member of the Congregation for 48 years, said she was looking forward to this year’s procession as it coincides with the Congregation’s 175th anniversary, and the 2015 procession was intended to be more “formal.”
“I think the procession has always been informal, but it’s always planned,” Sister Marianne said. “But I think it’s nice to make it more formal in the 175th year.”