Something for everyone at the Woods
Periodically, I serve as a Sunday docent or tour guide at the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. So many people are repeat visitors, so I don’t often actually give a tour. Mostly, I listen to stories, stories of connection with this sacred place.
On a recent Sunday, five women were coming toward me in the hall near the Shrine, so I welcomed them. One of them recognized my name as someone who had assured her of the sisters’ prayers when she had written asking for them. Then came the story! The five women from the Chicago area were all sisters. Their mother had attended high school here at the Woods in the 1930s. Many of her classmates went on to become sisters. She did not, obviously! However, she remained in contact with these sisters-friends and often visited the Woods during the summer to see them. And, of course, her husband and she packed the seven kids in the car as well.
The five sisters all attended St. Andrew School in Chicago, so the Sisters of Providence were no strangers to them. And, years later, when they married, they brought their children to visit the Woods. You’re getting the picture … stories of relationships, connections … they abound here and, like a magnet, attract people to return to this special place!
In contrast, another couple visiting from Indianapolis wanted to come to see the Woods because they had heard of Mother Guerin High School in Noblesville and wanted to check out who this “Guerin” person was. No prior connection; no prior relationship. They assured me before they left that they would be back, because they wanted to learn and see more and show the Woods to someone else. They were still outside enjoying the gorgeous, sunny spring day, sitting near the Saint Mother Theodore statue, when I completed my stint as docent about an hour later.
Finally, two women came from Danville, Ill. They saw my name badge and let me know immediately that they wanted a tour. Yay! A tour! They also told me that they were not Catholic and had about 20 minutes to spend! I assured them that I would only whet their appetite and they would definitely have to come back to experience all that is here at the Woods. They spent time with me in the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Shrine (the basics, like “What’s a saint?”), then went to the Church where they met another docent. I saw them next descending the stairs from the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, where one of them had availed herself of the restroom on that floor.
As they reached floor level, the woman exclaimed, “This place is SO cool!” I was about to ask why (thinking to myself … would it be the magnificence of the windows in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the marble in the Church or the simple chapel that housed Mother Theodore’s remains?) She was so excited, she went right on exclaiming about the hinges on the restroom doors! “They have little spirals at the top and not the usual little round caps. I’ve never seen anything like it!”
So, trust me on this, when we sisters say “the Woods has something for everyone,” we’re not kidding! Come visit the Woods and find out for yourself!