Sister St. Theodore spent her initial formation at the motherhouse in Ruillé before she was sent out on mission. Her time at Ruillé was difficult because she became extremely sick and nearly died. Her only hope for recovery was a remedy that forever damaged her digestive system. Due to this cure, she was never able to eat solid foods and existed on only soft foods and liquids. Recurring illnesses from this malady would plague her the rest of her life.
Due to the devastating after effects of the French Revolution, women religious were needed in the mission field. Sister St. Theodore was one of many postulants who received the religious dress and was sent out on mission.
In January 1825, Sister St. Theodore was sent to teach at Preuilly-sur-Claise in a school of the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé. On Sept. 6, 1825, she canonically received the habit and on Sept. 8 pronounced first vows. She then returned to Preuilly to complete the academic year.
- Initial formation is a period of time during which a woman considering religious life comes to deepen her spiritual life as well as further her understanding of the congregation and its mission. During the first year of initial formation, the woman is known as a postulant. The second and third years, she is known as a novice.
- Lasting from 1789 to 1799, the French Revolution led to the overthrow of the monarchy. The Catholic Church was forced to operate “underground” as property was seized, schools were closed and religious congregations were forced to disband. Eventually, the revolution and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte created social, judicial and church reforms, but wars and economic turmoil left much of the French population devastated.
- When a young woman entered the novitiate, she received the religious garb (clothing) or habit worn by members of the religious congregation she was entering. Wearing a religious habit was a sign of dedication to God and the mission of Jesus.
- A woman commits herself to God and to the service of the Church through public promises called vows. Ordinarily, members of religious congregations profess the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience when vows are taken for the first time. They are usually promised for a period of one year.