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Saint Mother Theodore Guerin moment: a mother’s letter to new postulants

To the Misses Marshall and Hermann:
Postulants from Europe

From Sister St. Theodore Guerin

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Aug. 21, 1852

Young Ladies and dear Daughters in Our Lord:

We have learned with joy that you are at Ruillé, far from all who are dear to you in the world, already on the way to follow your beautiful, your sublime vocation. We earnestly beg of Our Lord to complete what He has begun in you. He will hear our prayers, for He loves you. He calls you not only to become His faithful spouses, but to be, in a certain respect, true apostles; not only to leave for His sake all who are dear to you in your family, but even to leave your country, in order that you may have nothing but yourself. He calls you to this land watered by the sweat and blood of so many holy missionaries who have come here before us to make known, loved, and served that God Who has chosen you.

You must understand, my dear young ladies, that in order to attain the perfection to which you are called, a solid foundation is required. One cannot belong to God in an imperfect manner and be happy here. The life of the world that surrounds us is a life of the senses, a mundane and sensual life. Its example is very dangerous. If we do not wish to be lost with it, but to save it without injury to ourselves, we must be very firm, very devoted to God. Think of this while it is yet time. If your hearts waver, if you are afraid of the cross, of poverty, of humiliations, do not leave France; you would not be suitable for our little Community. If, on the contrary, you are determined to belong entirely to God, to endeavor by His grace to become humble, pious, and above all, to renounce your own will by obedience, then come. Our Blessed Lord will assist you and protect you. He will be your guide in your long and hazardous voyage. He will bring you to our beloved Woods, where you will find Sisters who love you even now and who are praying for you. You will also find in your new country souls who do not love, who do not know God; but these whom you will instruct and direct in His service will be your crown in eternity.

And you, dear Miss Marshall, who have had the courage to bid adieu to a beloved mother, take your heart in your hands and offer it to God. He is so generous; He will reward you abundantly for what He enables you to do for Him. Oh, how much you will love Him in this blessed solitude if you continue to be entirely devoted to Him. Long ago we offered prayers for you, for your generous mother. When you write to her tell her that I shall try to be a mother to you, that I love you already as my beloved child, and that all the Sisters are anxiously waiting to have you among them.

(Originally published in the Fall 2019 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 1840. She was born in France in 1798 and died in the United States in 1856, having lived the last 16 years of her life as a missionary teacher and healer in the Indiana wilderness. A strong leader and an even stronger woman of faith, Saint Mother Theodore and her many words of wisdom shared in her journals and letters continue to inspire people of today.

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1 Comment

  1. Mark Kestner on September 30, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Great letter

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