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Journals and Letters week 24: Support and hope

[Today we are discussing “Journals and Letters” page 219 to page 227 mid-page. Join us in reading a portion of Saint Mother Theodore’s writings every week in the coming year.]

This passage from the book “Mother Theodore Guerin Journals and Letters” has very few letters. In fact, none of the passage was written by Mother Theodore. Yet this section still offered me a sigh of relief.

New bishop, new hope

We start with a letter from the new bishop which is nothing but promising. Bishop Bazin writes to Mother Theodore, “Bury the past in oblivion, or think of it only to bless the Providence of God who sent you crosses because He loved you; for God never fails to try His true children.” He goes on to tell her, “The future is yours.” Such a new chance for hope.

In a second letter to Mother Theodore, he writes, “A bishop ought to be for a superior … a lever to raise up the heaviest burdens, a light to enlighten her in her doubts and a confidant to whom she may confide her pains and from whom she may draw the consolation she needs.”

The book’s editor says the arrival of the new bishop brings peace, happiness and a feeling of security hitherto unknown at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Yay! Finally.

Loyal, loving chaplain

A daguerreotype image of Fr. Corbe in his younger years

The rest of the section is about one of the Congregation’s great supporters and friends, Father Corbe. He served as the sisters’ chaplain from 1842 until his death in 1872. He stayed lovingly and loyally by the sisters for 30 years, even pledging to follow them if they had left Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for Detroit.

We learn Father Corbe’s background, how he was born in Rennes, Brittany, France, and came as a missionary to the Diocese of Vincennes, Indiana, at the age of 30. We learn of his lean early missionary years in which he had to hunt for the little food he had, but in which he was so happy. And of his death in which he continued to bless the sisters to the end.

We learn that he is buried here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods because he himself desired it. “He was all for us in life, so he wished to remain with us in death,” the author says.

A sketch of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods done by Fr. Corbe in 1854

We learn that Father Corbe liked books, and art and nature. He served not only as the sisters’ chaplain but as pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, which served all Vigo County west of the Wabash.

In addition to bringing relief, this passage also made me thankful for the good and giving co-ministers the sisters have had and continue to have. Thankfully we find these two particular men of the Church concerned more about collaborating with others to serve the people of God and less about relishing their power.

May we all learn to work together with respect, dignity and equality for the good of all people of God.

Your turn

What are your thoughts on this passage?

How can we better work together to make Jesus’ message come alive through the Church today?

Next week > page 228 Part VI Later Letters to page 236 mid-page

View the complete reading series.

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Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda is a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence and a staff member in their Advancement Services 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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  1. Avatar Dawn Tomaszewski, SP on March 20, 2021 at 9:16 am

    Thanks for these insights, Amy. I immediately thought about the loyal and loving chaplains I have known in my time as a Sister of Providence. Our current chaplain, Father Dan Hopcus, could not be a better friend to us.

    And recently, Archbishop Charles Thompson of Indianapolis, when he learned of the Covid outbreak among some of the sisters here at the Woods called us himself. He wanted out sisters to know that he was praying for us and that he offered a Mass especially for us.

    It is good to have these kinds of friends!!

  2. Avatar Barbara Ann Bluntzer, SP on March 20, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    Amy, I look forward to reading your synopsis of these periods of work, worry, journey and hopefulness that Mother Theodore and the Community were experiencing in the mid-l800’s. Even though we have studied these “eras” in our novitiate days,, you review them for us and keep this history alive ! Thank you so much. God bless you !

  3. Avatar Cathy Dearing on March 20, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    Thank you for you reflection. It was so nice learning more about Fr. Corbe — his background, the type of person and priest he was, his interests, and most of all, how much he loved and supported and respected Mother Theodore, the Sisters, and their mission.

    You posed the question “How can we better work together to make Jesus’ message come alive in the church today?” I feel the answer is in this question, which is working together. Fr. Corbe was willing to work together with Mother Theodore and that’s what he did. They exemplified the “I to We to One” mission frame of mind

    A few years back, PetCo ran a commercial with the slogan “The Power of Co.” Co means together, jointly, mutual cooperation, shared responsibility. Working together is just that. It’s co-llaboration; co-operation, co-creation. A shared vision…to make Jesus’ message come alive….by working together.

  4. Avatar Madonna Wilson on March 22, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    We have a new Bishop!

    What a difference one week can make in our Journals and Letters Blog.
    Last week, Week 23, it was called: Clash of the bishop and the saint
    And this week, Week 24, it was called: Support and hope

    Last week when I was reading about the encounters with the previous bishop, I read words such as “many obstacles.. struggles.., grave difficulties.” I can go on and on….

    However, I will stop there and do what Bishop Bazin suggested in his letter to Mother Theodore, “Bury the past in oblivion.” Therefore, I will focus on the words that joyously jumped out to me from the pages that were written from and about Bishop Bizen.

    Words such as:
    Desire of my heart; Sweet hope; Happy harmony; Devotedness; Affection;
    Respect; Consideration; Dear to me; Solicitude; Respectfully devoted;
    Sweetest hopes; A father, a friend in Jesus; Support; Assist; A confidant;
    Consolations; Comforting; Greatest interest; Happiness;
    Brought peace; Feeling of security; Expressions of joy.

    This new bishop brings a long-awaited peace and joy and a deserving feeling of security and hope to the Sisters at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods!

    I also very much enjoyed learning more about Fr. Corbe. I remember how he welcomed the Sisters to Vincennes. How he sustained their courage. A father, a friend, and more. “If the Sisters go I shall follow them”
    And now that I learned that Fr. Corbe is buried at the Woods, I plan to visit his grave the next time I visit.

    Amy you asked: How can we better work together to make Jesus’ message come alive through the Church today?
    I think Fr. Corbe said it best. “When concluding his sermon he never failed to say,
    “Well, let us try to love God with all our heart.”

  5. Avatar Cathy Dearing on March 22, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    Great comments Madonna!

    Thank you!

  6. Avatar Jane Fischer on March 24, 2021 at 9:06 am

    Thank you, Amy, and all who have joined in sharing here. These words ‘raise me up’ as I start my day. Reminiscing on the joy, love and respect shown in their words reminds me of a line from some author in a book I read long ago, “what is done is what remains.”

    Each day the work and stories and relationship of this community, help me continue doing.

    Merci and Xie Xie!
    And thank you, Sister Anne Clementine (RIP) for teaching me to read. (1st grade, Room 101, JMJ+)

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