June 30, 2006

Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin’s canonization date to be set

The Criterion staff report

July 1 promises to be a day of great joy and reverence as Pope Benedict XVI is expected to give the final approval for the canonization as a saint of Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin, the 19th-century foundress of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

The pope will give this approval in a meeting, known as a consistory, of the Church’s cardinals who minister in Rome.

The date for a canonization liturgy, at which three other people are expected to be canonized, will also likely be announced at the meeting where significant papal matters are discussed.

When Blessed Mother Theodore is likely canonized, she will become the eighth American saint and the first with strong ties to Indiana.

The consistory is the “necessary last step” in the canonization process, explained Msgr. Frederick Easton, archdiocesan vicar judicial, who oversaw the local investigation of the second miracle that is leading to the canonization. Many expect the canonization liturgy to take place this fall.

A French-born sister, Blessed Mother Theodore arrived in Indiana in 1840. She and her companions established their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, where they also started Indiana’s first boarding school for young girls.

Before she died on May 14, 1856, Blessed Mother Theodore founded 10 other Catholic schools throughout Indiana.

Blessed Mother Theodore was beatified in October 1998. In February, officials at the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints affirmed that the curing of an eye ailment of Philip McCord, an employee of the Sisters of Providence, was a miracle that occurred through Blessed Mother Theodore’s intercession.

The first miracle attributed to Blessed Mother Theodore’s intercession, the

curing of a fellow Sister of Providence from cancer, occurred in 1908.

In April, Pope Benedict signed a decree affirming the findings of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints regarding the second miracle.

The July 1 consistory will be attended by two Providence sisters who have been involved in the canonization process for Blessed Mother Theodore: Providence Sister Marie Kevin Tighe, vice postulator for Mother Theodore’s cause, and Providence Sister Mary Ann Phelan, the cause’s associate promoter.

“We are very grateful to the Holy Father and Vatican officials for moving forward with Mother Theodore’s canonization,” said Providence Sister Ann Margaret O’Hara, general superior, in a press release. “We are hopeful that the ceremony will occur near her feast day [Oct. 3] or near our Foundation Day [Oct. 22].”

Sister Ann Margaret said once the date for the canonization ceremony at the Vatican is established, the sisters will formulate a plan for a parallel liturgy to take place at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on the same day.

“We’ve reached the pinnacle of the pyramid” in the canonization process, Msgr. Easton noted.
He added, “I think everybody who is engaged with this, especially the Sisters of Providence, are on pins and needles to know the date.” †


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