Home » Blog » Journals and Letters week 14: Mother Theodore the fundraiser

Journals and Letters week 14: Mother Theodore the fundraiser

[Today we are discussing “Journals and Letters“:  page 112 to page 123 mid-page. Join us in reading a portion of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin‘s writings every week in the coming year.]

What stood out for me in this reading is the difficulties of the life of a fundraiser. Having worked for many years in the communications and fundraising office of the Sisters of Providence, it seems an honor to follow in the footsteps of Saint Mother Theodore, our first fundraiser!

In the journal, Mother Theodore tells how too much rain ruined so many crops, causing a difficult time for fundraising. This seems akin to where we find ourselves right now, needing to raise money for the sisters’ mission during a pandemic. It can be hard.

Needed help

In the story of the sisters’ “big break,” getting help from Queen Amelia, I see many lessons. First, the value of allowing ourselves to be encouraged on by others when we get discouraged in our work. Mother Theodore only finally went to the royal house at Sister Mary Cecelia’s continued urging. Mother Theodore felt burnt out and ready to give up. Can’t we can all relate to having someone we care about urge us when we have lost hope?

The importance of connections also stands out for me. The initial letter of introduction the sisters had was to a tutor of the children of the king’s “keeper of the seals.” That connection and some persistent helpers led to help from the entire royal family by way of the Queen.

Queen Amelia of France, an early donor to the Sisters of Providence mission

Queen Amelia offered kindness to the sisters and promised to pay their passage back to America and ask others for continued funds for the mission. Just what the weary sisters needed! But it was more than that. Mother Theodore said that even if the money for the voyage would fail to come through, just being with Queen Amelia brought comfort. “She had spoken sweet words which went straight to the heart, words consoling and strengthening, which poor solicitors seldom receive. How many times after having gone up and down stairs, climbing to the third and fourth stories, I wept in the streets before beginning another ascent to receive only a half franc with more contempt!”

How do I respond?

I felt so sorry for Mother Theodore reading this. How hard is the life of a fundraiser! I started to think of how I treat phone solicitors, probably the closest I come to being unkind to a solicitor. Ironically enough, as I was writing this, somebody called me from a breast cancer charity. This call turned out to be a robocall. I said hello about eight times and the caller returned two robo recorded messages pretending to be a real human being. So I hung up on the call with no regrets 😊. I doubt the recording’s feelings were hurt as Mother Theodore’s had been. But I will try to be polite the next time a real person calls on me asking for funds.

Your turn!

What are your thoughts on the fundraising efforts of Mother Theodore and Sister Mary Cecelia?

What in particular stands out for you as you read this passage?


Next week > page 123 to page 132 mid page

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Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda is a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence and a staff member in their Mission Advancement office. Amy is a 1998 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She currently manages the SP publication HOPE and works on marketing support for Providence Associates, new membership and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

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4 Comments

  1. Jeannie Smith, PA on January 10, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    Ah Amy, I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for all who solicit funds for the good causes! Thank you for your part. And always gratitude to Mother Theodore for her perseverance and courage to keep on in the face of “half-francs and contempt”. I spent some time this afternoon reading up on the history of what was going on with the Sisters left behind at St. Mary’s while Mother was so far away. Those are also stories of courage and fear and facing so many unknowns. Novices leaving because of the hardships and uncertain future, Sisters declaring they would go back to France rather than be severed from Ruille. Yet they did persevere, and things did get better. they leaned on Providence, both those in Indiana and those in France, and they were well-supported! So, lean away, Amy! Your work will bear fruit, no doubt about it. Next I have to refresh my French history – I know that Amelie and Louis Philippe were in exile a few years after Mother left for home. But my memory of that history is pretty fuzzy!

  2. Theresa Tighe on January 10, 2021 at 9:08 pm

    First, Amy to you, fund raising is a tortuous occupation even if the cause is great. And you do and will continue to make a difference, even though, this time is a difficult economic time for so many. God provides and we will all pray.

    I zeroed in on this quote, ”to allay fears and adjust matters satisfactorily, if possible was the task awaiting Mother Theodore.”
    I have also read a quote somewhere from Mother Mary telling Mother Theodore that even if she could raise great quantities of money in France, her presence was more needed at home at the Woods

    Mother Guerin’s task was saving, if possible, the mission. She had to deal with an erratic and vengeful bishop, the clash of two cultures, poverty and the hatred of Protestants, who tried to burn the sisters out.
    And she did it with the help of God’s Providence. She hid for the most part, her fears, under a cheerful exterior.
    I live a quiet life now, after a very active one as a reporter/feature writer.
    Sometimes I miss the hustle, the bustle, the self-importance.
    But now I have time to walk the journey with Alzheimer’s with a good friend and spend time on the phone with a chronically ill friend trapped in her home by COVID-19. I can be socially distanced Auntie Mame to the kids who live across the alley.
    I can read and mediate on Mother Querin’s words and use them as a guide for my life. I can try to stretch as a writer without the fear that failure might effect my income.
    Sometimes, when the sky has been grey for days, I wish I live by the aqua ocean in Florida rather than the mud brown of Missouri and Mississippi rivers in Missouri.
    Then I think of Mother Querin whose place was in the Woods of Indiana rather the court of France. Then I grow grateful to God’s Providence that I am in this place, with these people and have the time to read Mother Querin’s journals and letters and my fellow readers comments.

  3. Cathy Dearing on January 12, 2021 at 6:04 am

    I sure enjoyed reading about Queen Amelia. I have seen a painting of her at the entrance of the Mother Theodore shrine at Sisters of Providence and now I know more about her! I was so impressed with her generosity and her kindness! She didn’t just give money and send the Sisters on their way, she welcomed them giving them “a most gracious reception.’ She also ‘”inquired about their (Sisters) situation like a tender mother” and “listened to the details with great interest.” This gives me pause. When I give money to an individual for a cause, do I just hand it to the person, or just mail in the check and not learn more about the cause and the person who is asking? I try to connect and relate through conversation, through increasing my awareness and knowledge. It makes the giving more personable and come from a deeper level.

    I admire and thank you Amy for your work in fundraising. It takes grit and grace and know-how. Fundraisers believe strongly in the cause for which they are asking money and support. All fundraisers are to be admired for the ongoing, never-ending task of their time and energy. Of course, I thank all those who contribute to various organizations and ministries especially those who give from their purse and their heart, like Queen Amelia to Mother Theodore and the Sisters of Providence in Terre Haute.

  4. Madonna Wilson on January 12, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    Mother Theodore and Sister Mary Cecilia = The Dynamic Duo!

    Two people paired together whose unique traits, when combined, resulted in success.
    When it appeared that Mother Theodore was about to give up, Sister Mary Cecilia “begged me to make one more attempt with the one remaining letter.” I was so grateful for Sister Mary Cecilia’s: We Can Do This Attitude.
    And, I was grateful that Mother Theodore complied. Because she had said, “However, as I had several times refused Sister’s request, I granted it this time, but it was only out of pure complaisance that I did so. ”
    And what a it difference it made. Because it led to the meeting with Queen Amelia.!

    The section about the Sisters meeting with Queen Amelia is what struck me the most. There were so many beautiful words within that passage that Mother Theodore used to describe the Queen. Such as, “like a tender mother;” “kindness,” “benevolence.” “manifested the most tender sympathy,” “spoke with touching kindness,” And I was especially moved when Queen Amelia exclaimed, “Ah, yes, Sisters, let us save souls!” I cannot imagine the Sisters exuberance in hearing those words. And how it must have touched their hearts–To hear someone who totally supported them and who took the time to listen and to understand the importance of their mission in the Woods.

    And, yes Amy I agree with you. What an honor it must be for you to follow in Mother Theodore’s steps of fundraising. Thank you for all you do!

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