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A tangible reminder of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

Sister Rosemary Borntrager poses with some of the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin items.

Sister Rosemary Borntrager stands near the display of Saint Mother Theodore mementos.

This May, I have now been at Linden Leaf Gifts for one year, three afternoons each week for six hours each.  I have done many different things in my life, but never before have I been in ministry in a retail store.  It has been a totally new learning experience.

I remember the ribbon-cutting day when Linden Leaf Gifts was dedicated. I looked in and saw fancy scarves and blouses and jewelry and thought “What in the world! Why this in a religious store!” I have learned a lot since then. I heard that Father Mark Joseph, who had been an advisor in the planning, had remarked in a presentation that the gift shop would be one of the most important aspects of the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Shrine experience. As the final place that visitors went to, it would culminate their experience and be what they would carry away to others. That was its purpose.

The past year has shown me the truth of this statement. It really sank in when I read the Vision Statement and the Mission Statement for Linden Leaf Gifts. I have experienced these statements lived out in actuality. It is part of the total Shrine experience, a truly living ministry.

The Vision Statement says that, “pilgrims, visitors, and seekers will find meaningful items that are remembrances of their experiences at The Woods and their encounters with the Sisters of Providence. Linden Leaf Gifts merchandise will reflect the values held by the Sisters of Providence, namely, justice, non-violence, the role of women in society, contemporary spirituality, and the care of all creation.”

The statement continues: “Linden Leaf Gifts features contemporary spirituality books, art work, music, fair trade items, cards, alpaca products, White Violet Center products, Our Lady of Providence and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin religious items, and items hand made by the Sisters of Providence and their Sisters of Providence Associates.”

It concludes: “Linden Leaf Gifts honors stewardship by being financially self-sustaining.”


Sister Rosemary stocks a supply of new handmade cards at Linden Leaf Gifts.

Now! That is really a mouthful and a challenge. But I have witnessed it daily in action, almost exactly as described!

This Vision Statement is found again in the Mission Statement where Linden Leaf Gifts is described as a “specialty retail business that sells cards, gifts, accessories and other merchandise not commonly found in the larger retail market.” Then it goes on to describe the areas mentioned in the Vision Statement, such as fair trade items that pay a living wage to craftswomen and men in struggling countries, alpaca and White Violet Center products that aid the environment, one-of-a-kind items made by the Sisters of Providence and our Providence Associates. It has really found its own niche in the retail world.

It ends with Linden Leaf Gifts “helps extend the mission and ministry of the Sisters of Providence through Providence Spirituality and Conference Center. (It) acts as a conduit between the public and the Sisters of Providence.”  It is a real ministry!

And that is what I find the most inspiring. As the tourist/pilgrim continues through the Shrine area after leaving the Shrine Chapel, she or he seems sent out by Saint Mother Theodore “as birds from the nest” into the world of today and is introduced to our various ministries. At the very end as they are leaving there we all are – Sisters and Associates – waving goodbye to them. They also are being sent out to carry on Saint Mother Theodore’s mission and the ministry in their own lives and their own areas of the world. Linden Leaf Gifts gives them the opportunity to take back with them a tangible reminder of this experience.

And so Saint Mother Theodore’s ministry lives on through us today.

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Sister Rosemary Borntrager

Sister Rosemary Borntrager

Sister Rosemary, formerly Sister Rose Cecile, has been a Sister of Providence since 1950. She ministered many years as a teacher and principal. She also ministered as an assistant superintendent in the Diocese of Joliet Schools Office and as Diocesan Personnel Director. She has served in the Congregation’s Archives Department and as General Secretary for the Leadership Team. Currently, she ministers at Linden Leaf Gifts.

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  1. Avatar Jennifer Calvert on May 27, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Blessings my dearest friend of Providence. What an enlightening article describing what many of us live daily as we carry those precious gifts of wisdom from Saint Mother Theodore with us disguised as love, mercy, and justice.

    Once again, I am reminded how special the calling of Providence in my life is. I owe a great debt to your teachings.

    It brings me great hope to see you flourishing in this new role. God Bless You.

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