The Catholic Defender: Saint Theodora Guérin
Patronage. Saint Theodora Guérin has been named a patron saint of: Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana. Knights of Columbus of Indianapolis, Indiana.
From France to Indiana, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin (St. Theodora) lived an impactful life that still continues to inspire. She is remembered as a woman devoted to prayer, an educator, caregiver and leader.
Equipped with little more than her steadfast desire to serve God, Mother Théodore and her five companion Sisters of Providence arrived at the site of their mission at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, the evening of October 22, 1840, and immediately hastened along a muddy, narrow path to the tiny log cabin that served
Trust in God’s Providence enabled Mother Theodore to leave her homeland, sail halfway around the world, and found a new religious congregation.
Born in Etables, France, Anne-Thérèse Guérin’s life was shattered by her father’s murder when she was 15. For several years she cared for her mother and younger sister. She entered the Sisters of Providence in 1823, taking the name Sister Saint Theodore. An illness during novitiate left her with lifelong fragile health, but that did not keep her from becoming an accomplished teacher.
At the invitation of the bishop of Vincennes, Indiana, Sr. Saint Theodore and five sisters were sent to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, in 1840, to teach and to care for the sick poor. She was to establish a motherhouse and novitiate. Only later did she learn that her French superiors had already decided the sisters in the United States should form a new religious congregation under her leadership.
Mother Theodore and her community persevered despite fires, crop failures, prejudice against Catholic women religious, misunderstandings, and separation from their original religious congregation. She once told her sisters, “Have confidence in the Providence that so far has never failed us. The way is not yet clear. Grope along slowly. Do not press matters; be patient, be trustful.” Another time she asked, “With Jesus, what shall we have to fear?”
Mother Theodore was buried in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, now the Shrine of St. Mother Theodore, in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was beatified in 1998, and canonized as Saint Theodora Guérin eight years later.