Today is the feast day of a saint who has deep roots in Indiana, St. Mother Theodore Guerin. Mother Theodore was invited to come to Indiana by the first Bishop of Vincennes, The Most Reverend Simon Brute, who also was from France. Bishop Brute’s cause for sainthood was introduced several years ago. He helped form the first generation of priests for this country, and was a spiritual director and friend to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. He was appointed Bishop of Vincennes in 1834 and died in 1839.
Mother Theodore arrived in Terre Haute, Indiana after Bishop Brute died. She and the small group of sisters who came with her from France arrived at their new home and outpost in Indiana in October, 1840. They faced great hardships in their crossing the Atlantic and their overland journey from New York to Indiana. And their challenges did not end there. Mother Theodore had many requests for her small community to serve the needs of the new diocese in Indiana.
Mother Theodore is the foundress of the Sisters of Providence in Indiana. She and her sisters set to work serving those in their neighborhood, and quickly set to work establishing schools for the poor. On a personal level, she suffered many hardships, from the severe conditions of their rugged dwellings to personal health problems that eventually led to an early death in 1856.
She was known for her great trust in God’s Providence and her holiness of life. As a son of Indiana, I am grateful for her efforts and sacrifices to establish the faith in this portion of God’s family. As my day began today, I asked for her intercession, that my own efforts may serve to further strengthen the faith in the Church today. At this time, (liturgical) devotion to St. Mother Theodore is restricted to the local Church in Indiana, but I recommend her to you today. She is a recognized saint of the Church, and her ability to assist us in our efforts to live holy lives is well documented.
If you ever have the chance to visit her shrine at the Mother House of the Sisters of Providence in West Terre Haute, I encourage you to do so. It was very well designed, and is a wonderful place to pray – in the presence of a saint – laid to rest in Indiana.
Saint Mother Theodore, Pray for us!