Sunday was a joyous occasion for French and U.S. Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College staff and alums, and many others, when a bronze statue of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin was dedicated at the motherhouse of the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé sur Loir, France.

At the statue dedication, from left: SMWC President Dottie King, former General Superior Sister Denise Wilkinson, General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, Mary Ann Hellmann and Jerry Hellmann. Photo by Dee Reed, SMWC.

The statue, made possible by generous SMWC donors Mary Ann (’64) and Jerry Hellmann, is a replica of the one that stands outside the Church of the Immaculate Conception on the SP motherhouse grounds at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

From left, Sister Martine Meuwissen, general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé sur Loir and visitors Jean Brown, Sister Lisa Stallings and Sister Jan Craven, spend a moment with Mother Theodore prior to the dedication. Photo by Sister Dawn Tomaszewski.

Both bronze statues were created by artist/sculptor and Providence Associate Teresa Clark, from Terre Haute.

When General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski saw the statue, she said, “She is beautiful. This statue is made poignant by the fact that Mother Theodore is facing the Ruillé motherhouse – the home that she loved.”

As many know, Sister St. Theodore spent her initial formation at Ruillé with the French Sisters of Providence, before she was sent out on mission. And, it was six Sisters of Providence from Ruillé, who journeyed to Indiana at the request of the bishop of Vincennes to help educate the many Catholic immigrants who were settling in the area.

Plans for the dedication were finalized by former General Superior Sister Denise Wilkinson (who was already visiting France from the U.S.) and Sister Martine Meuwissen, general superior for the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé sur Loir.

The bronze statue, which weighs 1,047 pounds and is six-feet, six-inches tall, was shipped from the foundry in Cleveland, Ohio to Chicago, where it then traveled by air to Paris. The statue was then transported from Paris to Ruillé. Installation required a truck with a crane and several workers to get Mother Theodore placed on the marble base.

The special day included a reception in La Petit Providence followed by a Breton barbecue luncheon with the French Sisters of Providence. Mass and the dedication followed, with a closing reception.

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, Sister Lisa Stallings, vicar and Sister Jan Craven, director of the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, traveled to France for the dedication. Jean Brown, executive assistant to the SP General Council and sculptor Teresa Clark and her family also visited Ruillé for the event. The college had a strong group in attendance, including the donors and President Dottie King and her husband, Wayne.

Stay tuned for more information from the day.

In the meantime, here are some photos!