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Seeking our Saint!

Have you ever wondered about the early lives of the saints? More specifically, have you ever wondered about our Saint Mother Theodore’s life as a child and young adult? Where did she play and pray in her village of Estables-sur-Mer? What spiritual values were instilled in her to join the newly formed Congregation of the Sisters of Providence?

On July 12-22, Sister Janice Smith and I will lead a group of pilgrims on the tour In the Footsteps of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and Highlights of Northern France. We will follow her journey from her birthplace in Estables-sur Mer to Ruille-sur-Loire where she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence. Mother Theodore was 41 years old when she left for the United States. What experiences compelled her to leave all she knew to begin a new life in the United States? Why won’t you join us?

Understanding Mother Theodore

Our quest to understand Mother Theodore’s spirituality brings us to her beginnings in Estables-sur-Mer in Brittany. We’ll see the seashore where she played as a child. Is this where she developed her love of God? Did she begin to understand the creator God as she looked out on the sea?

The official portrait of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin (Saint Theodora).

We will pray in the church where Anne-Therese Guerin was baptized, received her First Communion and attended weekly Mass. After the deaths of her brothers and the murder of her father, did she find consolation and comfort in this church?

Surely, she brought her broken heart to the familiar rituals and liturgies offered there. Anne-Therese also prayed in Chappelle de Notre Dame de Esperance, a small church on the craggy shore. Did she go there often after playing? Is this where her devotion to the Blessed Mother took root?

Continuing the Pilgrimage

The pilgrimage will continue with the visit to the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Providence. It was in this very building where Anne-Therese began her formation as a novice and received her religious name, Sister St. Theodore.

In Le Petit Providence, about a mile from the Motherhouse, we’ll visit the first house of the Sisters of Providence founded by Pere Dujarie who founded the Congregation with Mother Marie Madeleine du Roscat whose birthplace we will visit.

The humble house is a testimony to the dedication of the sisters as they care for the children left homeless after the French Revolution. We will also visit the birthplace of Mother Marie Lecore, the superior who knew Mother Theodore well and missioned her to begin the Congregation in America.

After Mass in the Motherhouse chapel, we will enjoy a typical Breton meal with the Sisters in their refectory where Mother Theodore also took her meals.

This shrine is at the site of Mother Theodore’s birthplace in Etables, France. Photo credit/copyright: Jean Michel Daoudal.

More to Learn

During our time in Brittany, we will continue our quest to learn about another beloved saint, Therese of Liesieux, named the Little Flower because she thought of herself as one of God’s flowers in the garden of Beloved.

We will visit her family home in Alencon where her parents raised five daughters, four of Saint Therese’s sisters joined her in the Carmel and another sister joined the Presentation Sister. Her parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, were canonized in 2018.

Our tour of the Carmelite monastery where Therese lived until her early death at 24 will give us a sense of what her life was like in the silence of the cloister. The basilica of Sainte Therese, built soon after her canonization, is remarkable for its artwork, crypt and adoration chapel.

Other Sites to Visit

Our pilgrimage continues with tours of sacred places of breath-taking beauty: Mount Saint-Michel in Normandy, Sainte Chappell in Paris and Chartres Cathedral just outside of Paris. We will spend time at the American cemetery in honor of those who gave their lives to preserve freedom.

Our time together includes shared meals as well as time to explore San Malo, Paris and Bayeux, home to the famous tapestry of the conquest of England by William of Normandy. Our tour will conclude on July 22, as we make our way back home.

We encourage you to join us. It is a once in a lifetime experience! Click here to see the brochure and to learn more about the trip in addition to cost and more!

For more information, contact me at 312-909-7492 or email spaweski@spsmw.org.

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Sister Sue Paweski

Sister Sue has been a Sister of Providence since 1998. She currently ministers as Co-director of the Providence Associate relationship with the Sisters of Providence. Prior to that she taught fine arts at St. Genevieve Catholic School in Chicago.

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