January 26, 2007

Catholic Schools Week Supplement

St. Malachy students create St. Theodora holy cards

These are the fronts of six holy cards created by students at St. Malachy School in Brownsburg in celebration of the canonization of St. Theodora Guérin.

These are the fronts of six holy cards created by students at St. Malachy School in Brownsburg in celebration of the canonization of St. Theodora Guérin. Click on the image for a larger version.

By Sean Gallagher

BROWNSBURG—Along with the rest of the faithful across central and southern Indiana, the students of St. Malachy School in Brownsburg celebrated last fall’s canonization of St. Theodora Guérin, Indiana’s first saint.

But they had a special reason to take joy in this historic event.

Their school was founded by the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, the religious community founded by St. Theodora.

With that in mind, teachers at the Indianapolis West Deanery school started planning their celebration of the canonization soon after the academic year began.

The middle-school students learned about St. Theodora’s life of faith in their religion class, and about what Indiana was like when she arrived here in 1842 as part of their social studies class.

There was also a special Mass in honor of St. Theodora for all the school’s students on Oct. 12, three days before the canonization in Rome.

Linking all these activities together was a contest in which the students created holy cards in honor of St. Theodora.

All the 134 middle-school students created artwork that featured the saint and the state of Indiana. They also composed prayers to honor the state’s first saint.

In the end, six drawings and six prayers were chosen. They were reproduced, blessed at the Oct. 12 Mass and distributed to all the school’s more than 400 students and its staff.

Teri Carson, St. Malachy’s middle-school religion teacher, was amazed at the prayers that the students turned in to her.

“I got 134 beautiful prayers,” she said. “[The students] really embraced it, and they really made it their own. They incorporated things from her life. It was quite a hard decision at the end [to choose the winners].”

St. Malachy’s art instructor, Jackie Swihart, was pleased with the artwork submitted for the contest.

“I was really proud of [the students],” she said. “It was so hard to just narrow it down to a few. They had so many kids enter, which was really nice.”

Seventh-grader Adam Metallic composed one of the prayers chosen to be used on one of the holy cards.

Learning about the challenges St. Theodora faced in traveling to Indiana impressed him.

“For her to travel as far as she did and she survived—that was pretty amazing,” he said. “I don’t think that I could do that. I’d probably die.”

For her artwork for the contest, eighth-grader Claire Osecki drew a map of Indiana. Within it was her rendering of the famous portrait of St. Theodora.

She said it “took a really long time” to complete it.

“I tried to make it look like it really looks,” said Claire.

Claire said that she was struck by “how determined [St. Theodora] was and how she did so much with so little.”

Janet Woods, the middle-school social studies instructor at St. Malachy School, helped oversee the contest.

When she has taught Church history to her students in the past, it often involved the story of the faith as it was lived out in Europe 1,000 or more years ago.

But in teaching her students about St. Theodora, she was able to show, in very tangible ways, how Church history touches their lives here and now.

“For me, it was bringing a little bit of that [history] here,” Woods said. “This is someone who was here almost 200 years ago. She began all of these things that are still in place today, and you can go to the Sisters of Providence [motherhouse] and you can see what she built out of nothing.”

Mary Sullivan, St. Malachy School’s principal, hopes the holy card contest helps her students see that the holiness that St. Theodora lived is possible for them, too.

“Although we have here a very remarkable person, she’s also an ordinary person, an ordinary person who may very well … have walked on the soil that we walk on over at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods,” Sullivan said. “She is real. She’s a real person who now, because of her efforts and her belief in God and her developing the talents God gave her, … can inspire us to do the same.” †

Holy card prayers

The following prayers are a sampling of the prayers on the back of six holy cards created by students at St. Malachy School in Brownsburg in honor of the canonization of St. Theodora Guérin:

Dear Saint Mother Theodore Guérin,

Good and caring Saint Mother Theodore Guérin, help us to hear our calling, just as you did. Through your faith in God, you were able to cure others. Please strengthen our faith in God to help those in need. You relied on God for the strength, wisdom and courage to fulfill his will. Please help us to fully rely on God just as you did. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

— Austin Woods, sixth grade

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Dear Saint Mother Theodore Guérin,

With your vocation and education, you had a passion to pass on the knowledge that God bestowed. I pray that you provide the teachers of St. Malachy with the inspiration needed to help our students better our inspirational minds. As students, I pray that you provide the students of St. Malachy with the patience to learn and enlighten when the learning gets challenging. I ask you this with all my heart. Amen.

— Adam Metallic, seventh grade

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Great and almighty Father, please help me to find the path to you as you did for your servant Saint Mother Theodore Guérin. Good and gracious Lord, I am sorry for my sins and for the consequences that came with them. In the future, please help me to think before I act as Saint Mother Theodore Guérin did.

Saint Mother Theodore Guérin was a compassionate, considerate and merciful person. Please help me to follow in her teachings and model myself after her. Through trouble- some times and tough journeys, she continued to carry out your will. Please help me to do as you ask of me, Saint Mother Theodore Guérin. Amen.

— Eric Bennett, seventh grade

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