Breaking boundaries, creating miracles
“We cannot do our work if we all stay in the nest.”— Saint Mother Theodore Guerin
One does not need to be a bird expert to know that a nest provides a safe, comfortable place for a baby bird. One also need not be an expert to know that if a baby bird does not leave the nest, it will never learn to fly. It takes bravery, trust and courage to leave a place of comfort and venture into the unknown. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin’s life was a testament to this type of bravery, trust and courage. Her trust in our Provident God allowed her to leave safety and comfort behind in order to forge a new path and break through existing boundaries.
From a young age, Anne-Therese Guerin longed to give her entire life to God. Family tragedy would cause a delay in her plans, but her passion and pursuit of her dreams never wavered.
Mother Theodore helped the poor and cared for the sick, despite her own health issues. She pushed past her physical limitations to make the long and difficult journey to Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, from France in 1840. Once here, she and her companions had few resources and relied on the hospitality of others. She overcame many obstacles to establish pharmacies, orphanages and schools throughout Indiana and the surrounding areas. Through the schools, she educated young women at a time when very few girls received an education.
As a woman and a business leader, Mother Theodore faced an unjust system. Women of her time did not usually conduct business. That did not keep Mother Theodore from administering in a way that provided freedom and independence for her Congregation.
“… they wish to make us pay taxes, which is contrary to the laws of the State. We refuse positively. It embarrasses them a little to have women resist them and speak to them about the law. Woman in this country is only yet one fourth of the family. I hope that, through the influence of religion and education, she will eventually become at least one half the ‘better half,’” she wrote.
Seeing as God does
When Mother Theodore’s travels found her in New Orleans, she encountered the selling of slaves. Slavery was legal and considered acceptable at the time. But Mother Theodore felt pain and injustice. She yearned to end this suffering for her fellow human beings.
Mother Theodore’s journey to sainthood began with a desire to serve God and others. She was able to push past physical constraints, lack of resources, race, gender, existing systems and other obstacles and do whatever possible to make a difference in the lives of those she encountered. Her life exemplifies the impact one person can make in the world when they choose to see others the way that God does and treat them accordingly. We learn from Saint Mother Theodore’s life that when one trusts in a Provident God and doesn’t let anything limit them, their life indeed can create and inspire miracles.