July 1, 2006

Mother Theodore Guérin to be canonized during Oct. 15 ceremony at the Vatican

(Online editor's note: A full story, including local archdiocesan reaction, will be printed in the July 7 issue of The Criterion. Also, more information about this most recent development can be found on the website of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. The following are excerpts from their official press release.)

Blessed Mother Theodore GuerinJULY 1—Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin, foundress of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., will be canonized Oct. 15, 2006, as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church during ceremonies at the Vatican.

The announcement of the canonization date came Saturday morning after a meeting of Pope Benedict XVI and cardinals of the Church in Rome. Sister Ann Margaret O’Hara, the Congregation’s general superior, made the announcement to an assembly of sisters early Saturday morning at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Sister Marie Kevin Tighe, vice postulator and promoter of Mother Theodore’s Cause, and Sister Mary Ann Phelan, associate promoter of the Cause, were in Rome to represent the Congregation for the announcement.

Approximately 30 cardinals who reside or work at the Vatican were in attendance, along with other bishops. The meeting, called a consistory, took place in one of the apostolic palaces at the Vatican. After the liturgy of the day was offered, the head of the Congregation of Saints read the names of four people who will be canonized Oct. 15, including Mother Theodore. 

Being canonized as a saint is the highest honor the Catholic Church bestows upon an individual. Mother Theodore is the first person from Indiana and only the eighth person from the United States to receive the honor.

Mother Theodore came to the United States from France in 1840 to establish a Congregation of women religious in a dense forest adjacent to a remote community known a Saint Mary-of-the-Woods near Terre Haute. She was born Anne-Thérèse Guérin, Oct. 2, 1798, in the village of Etables in Brittany, France. She died at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1856. Her remains are entombed in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at the motherhouse. (See more information on Blessed Mother Theodore here)

A saint in the Roman Catholic Church is an individual whose life and deeds are held in esteem by the Church, and who is believed to be in heaven. A cause for sainthood is considered only after lengthy investigation. A person’s life is examined in full to determine if it is a life worth emulating by others, whether it was a life devoted to holiness and God’s work, and if there are any heroic virtues that are evident. Personal testimonies are gathered about a candidate. The candidate’s writings, teachings, heroic deeds and life practices are reviewed meticulously. Also, two miracles must be attributed to the person’s intercession after his or her death.

Sister Ann Margaret and Sister Denise Wilkinson, the Congregation’s vicar, will travel to Rome in mid-July to finalize plans with Vatican officials for the canonization ceremony.


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