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In the Footsteps of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

Step down, pilgrims, we have arrived! Twenty-nine of us and our wonderful guide, Sue Jackson, arrived at our hotel in Chartres, France, on July 13. Thus began our French pilgrimage of Sisters of Providence, Providence Associates and friends called “In the Footsteps of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.” I’d like to share with you a snapshot of our destinations. Every day we began with a prayer led by Sister Janice Smith. Here are a few of the highlights.

  • Chartres Cathedral – A local expert on the windows of Chartres, Mr. Miller, gave us an inspiring look at the world-famous stained-glass window. Later that evening, several of us attended an illumination show projected on the front of the cathedral!
The group of pilgrims poses for a photo outside the childhood home of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin in Etables-sur-Mer.
  • Motherhouse of the Sisters of Providence, Ruille-sur-Loir! Our dear Sister Gill Quigley from the Ruille community who stayed with us at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods a few years ago, organized the day for us. We celebrated Mass with the sisters and were treated to a grand meal complete with prayer, conversation and a variety of wines. We serenaded our sister hosts with “He’s Got the Sisters of Providence in His Hands!” Le Petit Providence, the first house of the fledgling community, was notable especially given the sparse accommodations of the first sisters.
  • Sister Gill arranged for us to visit the home of Mother Marie-Madeleine de Roscot, the first Mother Superior of the French Sisters of Providence. We then enjoyed the beauty of the Brittany shores where Anne Therese, the future Mother Theodore, played as a child.
  • Saint Malo enchanted us with the medieval ramparts and cobblestone streets. (Yes, challenging to navigate!)
  • Mont-Saint-Michel was a magnificent experience. About half of us made our way to the abbey, a trek of 350 steps up and 350 down, to behold the wonder of the abbey rooms and the sanctuary. Begun in the 8th century, we stepped into over 1,000 of years of history. Breathtaking! Those who stayed in the ancient village enjoyed the many tourist shops and cafes.
World War II memorial at Normandy Beach
  • We stayed in Bayeux to witness the incredible tapestry that depicts the conquest of England by William, the Duke of Normandy in 1066. It is indeed something to see. Then we experienced the sobering events of D-Day with our visits to Pointe du Hoc and Normandy beach. Several of us related stories that our fathers told about D-Day and World War II. Our visits to the American, British and German cemeteries underscored the horror and tragic loss of war. Our trip back to the hotel was quiet as we processed the day’s events.
Providence Associate Adrienne Bates-Brown takes a selfie in Luxembourg Gardens.
  • The home of St. Therese of Lisieux in Alencon and the shrine to her parents, Saints Zelie and Louis Martin, were the backdrop to the visit to the Carmel where St. Therese lived from 15 years of age to 24-years-old when she succumbed to tuberculosis. Our guide gave us a powerful reflection about St. Therese and her Little Way while we sat in awe of the mosaic walls and crypt in the Basilica of St. Therese. The brightly colored mosaic walls are in stark contrast to the stone abbeys and cathedrals we visited.
  • And, finally, our days in Paris! Our guide gave us a tour of the highlights of the city that never sleeps. We visited Luxemburg Gardens, Sainte Chapelle and Versailles. We had an afternoon free to visit museums and sights on our “bucket lists.” Our final evening included a dinner boat cruise on the Seine. C’est dommage, we had to leave for the USA the next morning. A truly memorable and sacred time.

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Sister Sue Paweski

Sister Sue Paweski

Sister Sue has been a Sister of Providence since 1998. She currently serves in pastoral ministry at St Catherine of Siena-St Lucy, St Giles Parish in Oak Park, Illinois. Prior to that, she ministered as Co-director of the Providence Associate relationship with the Sisters of Providence.

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  1. Avatar Sarah K on August 23, 2023 at 12:39 pm

    Woah, c’est magnifique! Thanks for sharing the details of your trip.

  2. Avatar Debbie Griffey on August 23, 2023 at 9:00 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I followed your journey online when the group was there and enjoyed the photos so much! Thank you for adding to that.

  3. Avatar Tina M Proctor on August 24, 2023 at 12:52 am

    Thank you for sharing those wonderful pictures and your journey bullet points. I was in France in 2019 with Mark, my late husband. If I ever go back, I’d like to see the areas you visited. We saw Paris and the Riviera area. What a wonderful, memorable pilgrimage you had!

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