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Mother Theodore moment

Jack Antonsen, shown here at left with his sisters, Maeve and Maris. Jack has been visiting Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and becoming friends with Saint Mother Theodore Guerin his whole life.

Eleven-year-old Jack Antonsen has been coming to visit Saint Mary-of-the-Woods “since he was born,” his dad says. Most often his visits have coincided with the annual celebration of Earth Day here at the Woods.

Over the years, Jack has come to know the sisters and many places at the Woods: the church, the shrines, the horse and alpaca pastures and even the garages where all kinds of tractors, work trucks, back hoes and snow plows are kept.

His favorite place is St. Joe’s Lake. He and his family stay in the hermitages there. Jack can walk right out the door and do one of the things he loves best — fish, fish, fish.

Knowing Mother Theodore

After all these years of visiting, Jack has come to know Saint Mother Theodore very well. So well that Jack chose Mother Theodore as “his” saint for a first grade All Saints Day project. As part of the project, Jack had to research the saint, create a symbol representing her and present Mother Theodore’s story to classmates and their parents.

When asked how he learned about Saint Mother Theodore, his answer was “by going to the Woods and talking with the sisters.”

Why did he choose Mother Theodore?

“She was so brave. She came all across that ocean when a lot of people didn’t do that. Mother Theodore loved animals and didn’t destroy them. She was very caring.” The Shell Chapel and the Log Cabin Chapel also taught Jack about Mother Theodore’s French roots and, again, her bravery in coming to the wilderness of Indiana.

All in all, it seems Jack has caught the essence of our saint: very brave, a lover of nature and very kind. Jack himself is very much that way: very brave, a lover of nature and very caring.

That’s the thing about saints.

We want to be like them.


(Originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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