October 27, 2006

‘A person of faithful prayer’: At Mass of Thanksgiving, Archbishop Buechlein reflects on St. Theodora

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein delivers a homily before hundreds gathered at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome for an Oct. 16 Mass of Thanksgiving in celebration of the canonization of St. Theodora Guérin.

Photo caption: Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein delivers a homily before hundreds gathered at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome for an Oct. 16 Mass of Thanksgiving in celebration of the canonization of St. Theodora Guérin.

By Sean Gallagher


ROME—“Canonization is a recognition of Mother Theodore’s all-consuming love for God. Her canonization recognizes that she was a holy woman who obviously was a person of faithful prayer.”

That is how Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein summarized the meaning of the three days celebrating St. Theodora Guérin’s canonization in Rome.

He spoke these words in his homily during an Oct. 16 Mass of Thanksgiving at the majestic Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, where hundreds of supporters from around the world came to celebrate Indiana’s first saint who was canonized the previous day. (Get more information and photos from this event)

The archbishop went on to ponder the fact that God had blessed the people of Indiana with such an example of holiness.

“Mother Theodore was a timely gift from God to renew the Church in its infancy in Indiana,” Archbishop Buechlein said. “The seeds of faith and holiness planted in our missionary territory through the agency of Mother Theodore have flourished.

“She continues today as a witness of God’s unchanging love for us. Isn’t it awesome to reflect that God so loved our little part of the world that he gave us the remarkable Mother Theodore Guérin?”

Present for the Mass at the basilica built over the tomb of St. Paul were more than 100 members of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, the religious community that St. Theodora founded in 1840. Also on hand were hundreds more from Indiana, and pilgrims from other parts of the United States and several countries around the world.

Leo Gasper, a member of St. Anne Parish in Jennings County, was part of the archdiocesan pilgrimage to Italy and attended the Oct. 15 canonization and Mass of Thanksgiving the following day.

He said all of the celebrations related to the canonization were a profound reminder to him concerning “what life is all about.”

“It just reassures me that the only answer to our life is God, and that we have to be good to other people because that is what our saint is known for, how much she sacrificed for other people,” Gasper said. “That was her life.”

For Providence Sister Ann Margaret O’Hara, the holiness of St. Theodora’s life was defined not so much by the great accomplishments that she undertook but by the love with which she did them, much like three great holy Teresas who shared her baptismal name: St. Teresa of Avila, St. Thérèse of Lisieux and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

“Mother Theodore defined [holiness]

as doing everything with a great love,” said Sister Ann Margaret, who recently completed her service as her community’s general superior.

“It’s a very simple thing to do. And that’s exactly what she did.”

Msgr. Frederick Easton, archdiocesan vicar judicial, was a concelebrant at both the canonization Mass and the Mass of Thanksgiving.

He echoed the archbishop’s words when considering the meaning of the canonization for the people of Indiana.

“It’s pushing us all in Indiana to think

of what it means to be holy and what the journey is all about,” said Msgr. Easton, who oversaw the investigation into the miracle that opened the way to St. Theodora’s canonization.

“I think trust in times of adversity is what comes to mind immediately. We do have a lot of that. And sometimes we don’t immediately think of that trust in providence in times of adversity. Maybe she’ll help us to think of it a lot faster than normal.”

The help that Msgr. Easton said St. Theodora can offer to the faithful of the archdiocese is, according to Archbishop Buechlein, a mark of the friendship that we can have with her here and now.

“In our solemn and joyful prayer, we acknowledge a continuing relationship with Mother Theodore, who lived a heroic spiritual life,” the archbishop said. “She is our friend. She prays for us.

“What an extraordinary joy that we have a formally declared saint from our local Church in Indiana to spur us on to victory—and with her, to share the prize of everlasting glory.”†

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