Journals and Letters week 16: Welcome support
[Today we are discussing “Journals and Letters” pages 132 to 145. Join us in reading a portion of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin‘s writings every week in the coming year.]
As I read these pages, I found my mind going off in several tangents, trying to find a thread to hold my thoughts about these pages somewhat together. I didn’t feel that I really succeeded!
One thing that did stand out for me was the diversity and goodness of Mother Theodore’s benefactors and their importance to the mission.
Down to business
First, we have Mrs. Parmentier in Brooklyn, New York. Mother Theodore speaks so affectionately of her. She tells her “that the good God blesses the House that your charity has caused you to adopt and which looks upon you as a mother.” The Parmentier name surfaces several times in “Journals and Letters.” The first was when she welcomed Mother Theodore and her companions upon their arrival in Brooklyn and extended hospitality. Her generosity and that of her children continued to support the young community in a variety of practical ways.
I did have to chuckle when Mother Theodore wrote midway through the letter, “Let us come down to business.” She then proceeds to issue several “directives” to her friend to carry out for her. So I guess we sisters today come by it honestly when we always seem to have yet more to ask of our donors and supporters. We echo Mother Theodore’s words, “But again I must talk about money.”
Another friend was Father Kundek in Jasper. Mother Theodore had outlined her conditions for continuing the school, requesting a contract in writing. He evidently agreed, for Mother Theodore found “very satisfactory the arrangements” he was willing to make. She said, “We indeed owe a great debt to the one who was almost our first benefactor in Indiana.” What a consolation he must have been to her. They evidently could be quite frank and direct with each other, one of the signs of a trusted friendship.
The last pages are devoted to Louis Veuillot and Leon Aubineau, friends of another sort. These were esteemed businessmen whose contribution to the mission was to publish sketches of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods dictated by Mother Theodore in their publication Univers. Veuillot later made 500 copies of the articles into pamphlets which they distributed to readers, asking for donations in support of the mission. It was noted that the circulation of the paper “… reaches nearly everywhere, and we must not doubt that this publicity will bear great fruit. …” And it did. Later they printed Mother Theodore’s third journal which produced another source of income.
Our benefactors of today
Our present benefactors mirror these early supporters of our mission — a caring woman, a priest, two prominent businessmen — all in their own way, enabling the mission and moving it forward by their talents and contributions.
And as with Mother Theodore, we sisters can only “repay” our current benefactors for their faithfulness and generosity with our promise to use their contributions to bring about good in the world and with our undying gratitude and prayers.
What stood out for you in these pages?
Did anything surprise you?
Next week > page 146 Part IV, “Third Journal of Travel: to page 160 mid-page
Two things occurred to me in these pages (well, probably more than two, but two I will tell…) I was struck by Mother Theodore’s writings that never disparage the Bishop that was causing her so much harm. The way this book is put together makes it hard sometimes to figure out the chronology. But that letter to Mrs. Parmentier was only two days after that crisis in Vincennes when the Bishop locked her in a room and was about to forbid her to return to her Sisters ever and to banish her from the diocese. Yet she doesn’t even mention it or any sort of trouble she has with the man. Later in the year, December, she writes to Fr. Martin calling the Bishop “the dear traveler” and promises prayer for the shepherd separated from his flock. Talk about restraint!!!
The second thing that struck me is great curiosity about the court date in Terre Haute regarding counterfeit money Mother was supposed to have used. I tried to find out more about that in Vol 1 of the SP History, but couldn’t find anything more. How curious I am! I wonder how that went! As if she didn’t have enough to worry about!
Jeannie, thanks so much for noting the chronology and figuring out what Mother Theodore had just experienced — and saying nothing about it! A marvel indeed.
I’ll be in touch with Sister Marie Grace in Archives about your curioity question. She’s a great sleuth and if there is nore about the court case, she will find it!
Well, I didn’t exactly do that figuring out very well! Turns out I was right about May 20, but the “incident” with the locked room was three years later. That trial and tribulation with the Bishop sure went on a long, long time.
Mother Theodore does provide an amazing example of forgiveness and to pray for those who have hurt us.
Reading about Mother Guerin handling the difficult tasks of asking people for help and outlining the things she needed from them aided me. So did your words, Sister Ann Casper about her friendship with Father Kundek, a friendship in which she could be frank.
Directing people with grace when called for, the ability to be discuss the situation when there is a burr under the saddle of good will with a friend: all this must be handled with tact and grace and wisdom. if they aren’t attended to friendships suffer and harmful things happen. Mother Guerin shows that we can’t always let the negative slide. And I am sure she prayed.
Also she handled one of the hardest of the ways of Christ, forgiving our enemies. The Bishop was a sick man. I think today he would have been labelled bi-polar. Mother Guerin views him as troubled not evil and this makes her dealings with him, while true hardships a little easier.
Mother Guerin is truly a guide in our time. And like her journalist friends long ago the Sisters of Providence and Providence Associates are making her known from this discussion group to virtually and when the pandemic lifts back to the Shrine and the dramatic presentations.
I agree the Bishop probably suffered from some type of mental illness. However, it is so unfortunate how long he was kept in his position and continue to inflict his cruel and tyrannical behavior on Mother Theodore. She does truly live the words of Jesus to pray for those who hurt you.
Thanks for your comments each week, Theresa. I like the way you apply Mother Theodore’s words to current situations and use them for guidnce in your own life. That’s so important for all of us..
Sister Ann, thank you for your nice consolidation of events and your insights in this next reading. I agree with you about the “diversity and goodness of Mother Theodore’s benefactors…” I also took note of her comment mid letter “Now let’s get down to business…”
Again these letters reveal how many details she had to attend to particularly in requesting money to support the various needs of the community and schools. Yet these letters also provided a vehicle of connection for her and for her to express her concerns and feelings. These letters allowed her to “refresh” herself and were a “recreation” for her.
I really enjoyed the story of the two gentlemen who were part of the Catholic daily paper, Univers, in France and how much they supported Mother Theodore and The Woods through their writings, publicity, financial support and prayer. The circulation of those pamphlets about SMW was so helpful I’m sure.
I also took note of Mother Theodore’s words in her letter to Mrs. Parmentier, “When will the day come that we shall be able to be occupied only with God?” Her role pulled her in so many directions. And yet she still was a valiant woman of prayer. Even in the midst of the challenges, busyness, and responsibilities, she still turned to God in trust.
The Connecting Link has operated on the donations of teachers, doctors, professional people, business people, the community of WTH, family and friends for the past 24 years! Without the generosity of these donors my Board and I would have to spend our energies on fund raising instead of providing information, referrals and advocacy in the local community.. Thank you to the many people who have contributed to the building of the clinic/pharmacy in WTH. It is not to late to help build!
Thanks for your comment, Dorothy. You are fortunate to be about helping people in need each day. Bless all those folks who support you in your endeavors and make them possible.
I’m glad you raised that quote: “When will the day come that we shall be able to be occupied only with God?” It is one of my favorites just because of the context in which it occurred. It certainly reflects the longing that must have been Mother Theodore’s in the midst of so much busyness and so many challenges to be addressed.
Thanks for your comments each week.