February 22, 2006

Path to sainthood cleared for foundress
of Sisters of Providence

News release

(See more at www.archindy.org/guerin)

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., today announced that the path to sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church has been cleared for their foundress, Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin.

The Ordinary Congregation of the Cardinals in Rome on Tuesday (Feb. 21) made a positive declaration concerning a second miracle attributed to Mother Theodore's intercession. The way is now open for her canonization. Information about the Cause will now be shared with all Cardinals, archbishops, bishops and other church leaders before it is sent to Pope Benedict XVI for his approval.

Previously, committees of medical experts and theologians in Rome also gave their approval.

Canonization of Mother Theodore will make her the eighth saint who spent most of his or her ministry life in the United States. She will be the first person from Indiana to be canonized.

"This is a momentous time in our Congregation's history, but it also is a time that is to be shared with people throughout Indiana, throughout the United States and throughout the world," said Sister Ann Margaret O'Hara, general superior of the Sisters of Providence, in a news release posted Wednesday. "This is the highest honor the Catholic Church can bestow on a person, but it is not just for Catholics. The pending canonization is something people of all faiths can share by recognizing the way Mother Theodore lived her life."

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 as Saint Mary-of-the-Woods near Terre Haute. Primitive conditions greeted her and her five companions after a tumultuous journey of more than three months.

The newly arrived French sisters immediately began to study English. They worked to clear a parcel of land for vegetable gardens. With assistance from the bishop of Vincennes, they negotiated with the local family that gave them their first living accommodations to purchase a small cabin for their motherhouse and use the structure they were building to establish an academy for girls.

The first student at the academy arrived for enrollment July 4, 1841. The academy is now known as Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, the oldest Roman Catholic college for women in the United States.

The Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of Mother Theodore Guérin, foundress of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, was opened in 1909. This long and thorough process of declaring saints in the Roman Catholic Church is a way to make the spiritual legacy of a person known universally.

"This is one of the most historic days in the life of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College as we celebrate the approval of Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin for Canonization by the Roman Catholic Church," said Joan Lescinski, CSJ, president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. "Her life will serve as a continual inspiration to all members of our College community. In a special way, we extend our most heartfelt congratulations to our Sisters of Providence."

To learn more about Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin and the pending canonization, please visit www.sistersofprovidence.org, or contact Dave Cox, Sisters of Providence Media Relations Manager at dcox@spsmw.org or 812-535-3131, ext. 434. For additional information about Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, please visit www.smwc.edu, or contact Lynn Hughes, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Director of Public Relations, at LHughes@smwc.edu or 812-535-5212.

(Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, a Catholic college sponsored by the Sisters of Providence, is committed to the higher education of women in the tradition of the liberal arts and places special emphasis on preparing women for leadership roles in a diverse and global society. The College offers campus-based undergraduate degree programs for women and distance undergraduate and graduate programs for women and men. SMWC is located on a beautiful 67-acre campus near Terre Haute, Indiana. For more information, call 1-800-926-SMWC or visit www.smwc.edu.

The Sisters of Providence, a Congregation of more than 465 women religious, have their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, located northwest of Terre Haute, Ind. Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840. Today, Sisters of Providence minister in 20 states, the District of Columbia, Taiwan and China. For more information about any of the ministries of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, visit the Congregation's web site at www.sistersofprovidence.org.) †


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