June 24, 2005

Cause for canonization of Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin moves forward

Second miracle passes scrutiny of medical commission

By Brandon A. Evans

The cause for the canonization of Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin may have just passed its most difficult phase.

Andrea Ambrosi, the postulator for the cause, recently reported to the archdiocese and the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods that the second miracle attributed to Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin has been unanimously recognized by a five-person medical commission as a cure unexplainable by medical science.

Only a simple, three-person majority was needed to move the cause along.

The investigation into the miracle, which began in early 2003, is a necessary step in canonizing the 19th century foundress of the Sisters of Providence—necessary because it provides evidence that she is in heaven interceding for us.

It was after a thorough investigation of her life and the validation of one miracle that Mother Theodore was beatified in 1998. (For more information about Mother Theodore, click here)

Now that the miracle has been approved, the cause will be put before a seven-member theological commission then before a 15-member commission made up of cardinals and archbishops.

Then, assuming that all goes forward, all that will be left will be for the Holy Father to proclaim Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin a saint in heaven—something that will be the fruit of work dating back to 1909, when the cause began.

Her canonization would mean that public and formal devotion to the religious sister could take place all over the world—and her name could be used in the formal eucharistic prayers.

Such a way of spreading the story of Blessed Mother Theodore’s life is part of the reason why her cause has been worked on for so long, said Providence Sister Mary Ann Phelan, associate promoter under Providence Sister Marie Kevin Tighe, who is currently recovering from surgery.

Notice that the second miracle had been approved came to the motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods via e-mail, and Providence Sister Ann Margaret O’Hara, general superior, announced the good news during the daily Mass.

The reaction was “great joy,” said Sister Mary Ann. “We all breathed a sigh of relief.”

Sister Ann Margaret said that part of the relief came from knowing for the past two and a half years that if the medical commission could find a medical explanation for the miracle, that the cause would stall until another miracle was found.

Though details of the miracle have not been released, Sister Mary Ann said that it was one of the employees of the Sisters of Providence.

“The person is not Catholic, and that seemed to carry some weight with the people on the commission,” she said. It speaks volumes that “a non-Catholic had enough faith to pray for this miracle and then also to report it.”

Sister Ann Margaret said that many people have felt touched by Blessed Mother Theodore, and noted that “the person who experienced this particular healing said that he first experienced a sense of peace.”

Mother Theodore “really is a woman for our time,” Sister Ann Margaret said. Her priority was not only the education of women, but also the improvement of the role of women in all parts of society.

“She was a woman who, through her trust in God, was able to do many things for the Church in general and for the Church in Indiana in particular,” Sister Mary Ann said. “For this diocese, we feel that it’s very important that they know about Mother Theodore.”

The desire on the part of the sisters to spread the message of the life of Mother Theodore took a big step forward in the past two weeks, and it was a step that came unexpectedly, said Sister Ann Margaret—unexpected because the timeline for this cause has been unknown.

With so many causes currently before the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, many can wait in line for an undetermined amount of time, said Msgr. Frederick Easton, vicar judicial for the archdiocese.

After all the oaths were taken and forms were signed regarding this particular miracle, the documents had to be wrapped in brown paper, tied with a red ribbon, sealed with wax and topped with a special Latin document.

At the time, Msgr. Easton drove the package to Washington, D.C., to the office of the papal nuncio, so that it could be delivered to the Vatican in an official diplomatic pouch.

From there, he said, there was a painstaking process of verifying the documents in Rome before the merits of the miracle were even examined.

Now, he said, with the commission finding no scientific explanation for the cure of the man in question, the theological commission will examine the case this fall.

Msgr. Easton said it likely will be sooner than five years when the cardinals will examine the cause.

Ambrosi said that he is pleased with the timeline.

“Actually, it didn’t take so long because when you are in line to be examined for canonization there are less causes,” he said.

“I think it is a great honor for Indiana to have a saint,” Ambrosi said, “because there are not many saints in the U.S.A. My hope is that after the canonization there will be a big celebration in the diocese which will bring interest among other faiths.”

Sister Ann Margaret and Msgr. Easton both asked that Catholics in the archdiocese continue to pray for the success of this cause.

“Yes, they have to pray,” Ambrosi said, “because soon they will be praying to a saint.” †

Click here for more information on Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin

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