Journals and Letters week 28: Death of the bishop
It’s April 1848 and on the cusp of Holy Week when Saint Mother Theodore and a companion sister arrive at Vincennes for the beginning of Mother Theodore’s yearly house visits to all the missions. The first visit in Vincennes does not go as expected. The new bishop, John Stephen Bazin, becomes ill. As the week progresses, he is diagnosed with pneumonia and within eight days’ time has died.
He has only been bishop for six months, and in that time he has offered such loving support and acceptance to the sisters. Mother Theodore refers to him as, “the venerable prelate who in six months has healed so many wounds.” His death is a shocking blow to the young community that has already endured so many struggles under his predecessor.
A holy death
Mother Theodore, who providentially was able to be present and offer assistance during his time of illness and death, advises the sisters at home, “Let us take care not to become discouraged. Let us submit with love to the will of God.”
So impressed with the holiness of the bishop’s death, she reminds the sisters, “Especially let us never forget that if we wish to die like the Saints, we must live like them.”
Coming home and elections
As the section wraps up we find Mother Theodore calling all the sisters home for their summer gathering at the Woods. The Congregation has grown so much that she is calling forth an election of an assistant to help her and of a mistress of novices to guide the new sisters. Despite all its early struggles, the Congregation continues to grow and move forward.
I think it is neat that the tradition of the Providence Community (which today in addition to Sisters of Providence also includes Providence Associates) coming home for meeting and renewal time in the summer continues to the present. Mother Theodore’s strong leadership amidst struggle has paid off in the longevity and character of the community she founded.
Share your thoughts
How do you see Mother Theodore dealing with disappointment here? How do you deal with disappointment?
What most stood out for you as your read this section?