To Mother Theodore and companions
Editor’s note: On this Foundation Day, as we celebrate the arrival of Saint Mother Theodore and her companions in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840, we share this poem created by Sister Thomas Jeanne Doriot, SP, in the 1970s. Several sisters who have been using it for prayer this time of year have passed it on to be shared with all of you.
Fragile forerunners of ourselves,
we thank you for your coming.
Bearing sainted heroes’ names
across the sea, you are a litany
chanted down the years.
Theodore, St. Vincent Ferrer,
Basilide, Marie Xavier, St. Ligouri,
Olympiade, with St. Francis Xavier
scurrying after you another year.
Daughters of your founding in that Woods
we too call home, we round the season’s
corner to another Autumn. The leaves
turn gold in honor of your coming.
Like new psalms chanted with the old
we celebrate our anniversary Eucharist
with you, Ladies of the past.
You look on us amazed, as women will
at daughters growing generations after
them. We are all this century knows
of any value in your venturing
into a wilderness where Christ was
waiting for you, waiting in the poor,
the frightened, the wealthy, the self-
assured, the hungry, the homeless,
the peaceful and the violent.
Ladies of the past, your coming cost us
lives we might have led — in homes with children
of our own or cloisters where we might
have savored more of solitude and prayer.
But we, like you, were led into this special
wilderness that is, for us all, Providence.
Ladies of the past, handing down your dreams
to us like shells from Bretons shores,
we value them. We ARE your dreams come true.
From you, from us, a future grows taller
than the trees. We thank you for your coming.
This poem is breathtakingly beautiful. Thank you, Sister Thomas Jeanne!
Thank you for sharing Sister Thomas Jeannes beautiful poem. I will carry her words with me throughout the day, and celebrate in thanksgiving , all that it holds
Beautiful! I’m thinking you were at Marywood, Evanston, Il in the 60s when I was in school. I was great friends with Luanna Henke (Sr. Luanna). Nice to see your picture!!!
This is beautiful!
Poetry lives forever, resting, patiently waiting to be discovered by some curious soul in search of a beam of light, prayer of comfort and guidance. Such was my search now, at 3:12 AM on March 21, 2022, in Louisville, KY, just an hour and one-half from the grave of my dear friend and confessor, Fr. Matthew Kelty, OCSO. Gethsemani formed my faith when I was thirteen, sixty-four years ago, and remains in me as I in it. I met Fr. Louis twice, in the summer of 1960, when he was novice master there; I was discerning a vocation there. In a re-read of accumulated material over the years, I revisited The Merton Seasonal, Spring 2012, where I had flagged your poem about Fr. Kelty, Requiescat in Pace, on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee. The poem resonated in much the same way for me as I have been drawn to that holy place by the same Voice that called Matthew. Your words carry me back to my first visit there, in 1957 where my soul still calls home as I have visited each year since. Your words remind me: The voice still reassures, “I am your God, your Light.”