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Sister Janet Gilligan

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A legacy of love, prayer and service

When today’s Sisters of Providence describe the spirituality of Mother Theodore, they speak of her deep, joyous love of God. Of her warm affection for her sisters. Her abiding trust in Providence. Of her resilience. Her passion for the mission. And her practical piety.

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An unbreakable promise

True to her word, after her safe arrival at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Mother Theodore had a small log chapel built on a little hill in the forest east of the convent

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Sister Lawrence: a courageous caregiver in an epidemic past

At 5 o’clock that same day, Sister Lawrence died. “I regret nothing,” she said, “in leaving the world. I have worked hard, very hard, with my body, perhaps my mind has not worked hard enough; our sisters will pray for me.”

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“Be cheerful, kind to one another” Mother Theodore’s response to epidemic

“Keep your house, the yard, and also your persons clean. Change your linen often and have your children clean also, if they are still with you. Finally, my dear daughters, pray.”

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Quietly breaking boundaries, creating hope

Few would probably imagine Sister Suzanne running for public office, supervising an adult education program or traveling through South America on her last dollar.

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Elizabeth Kuo, beloved “Grandma Kuo” of the sisters in Asia

In every stage of the sisters’ trials in China, Aunt (or Grandma as she was later called) Kuo was there, walking to the markets every day, sending meals to the sisters in house arrest, sleeping on a cot in the room where the sisters took their meals.

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Sister Eileen Rose Bonner: A spiritual and emotional support to neighbors

Now she spends her retirement years preparing food for shut-ins, working with the parish bereavement committee and tutoring students in English as a second language.

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A lifetime of meeting needs around the world and in our own backyard: Sister Patty Fillenwarth

She heard their stories of abuse, of problems with their children, of anxiety about their immigration status. Many of them needed professional counseling, but this was almost impossible for poor families who had no insurance and were struggling with English. Sister Patty came to see that her greatest missionary opportunity now was not in Africa, Peru or Taiwan, but in her own backyard.

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Digitizing the letters and journals of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

The original manuscripts of all the existing letters and journals, mostly in French, have been carefully preserved in the Sisters of Providence Archives. But these fragile pages have never been available to the public. Now, thanks to a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the Indiana State Library, digital representations of the personal letters of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, along with transcriptions and translations, will be available sometime after July.

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Sister Janet Gilligan is a volunteer in the Sisters of Providence Archives. A retired English professor, she enjoys her role as an archivist — answering queries, writing grants, and learning how to digitize collections.