March 3, 2006

‘The way is now open’: Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin closer to sainthood

By Sean Gallagher

ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS—The canonization Cause of Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin, the 19th-century foundress of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, has taken a crucial step toward being closer to completion. (For more about this Cause, go to

On Feb. 21 in Rome, the voting members of the Holy See’s Congregation of the Causes of the Saints affirmed the earlier findings of the body’s medical and theological commissions that the curing of an eyeailment of Philip McCord, an employee of the Sisters of Providence, which was attributed to Blessed Mother Theodore’s intercession, does not have a natural explanation and can thus be deemed a miracle.

At a Feb. 22 press conference at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Providence Sister Ann Margaret O’Hara, the congregation’s general superior, said that “the way is now open” for the canonization of Blessed Mother Theodore.

Sister Ann Margaret also spoke about the importance of this latest step for the archdiocese, whose history is closely tied with the foundress of the Sisters of Providence.

“I think it’s a special day of joy because it celebrates the heritage of Mother Theodore,” she said, “and that it is still alive in this place, and that she came to this part of the world for the good of the people in this area.”

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, in a prepared statement, also noted the significance of the step for Catholics in central and southern Indiana.

“It is an extraordinary blessing that our archdiocese and the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods will be honored with our own canonized saint,” he said. “Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin will continue to be a source of special graces for all of us.”

Her Cause now moves out of the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints to be reviewed by all the cardinals and archbishops around the world.

If no objections are raised, Pope Benedict XVI in a consistory of cardinals in Rome may then declare that Blessed Mother Theodore should be declared a saint. The eucharistic liturgy during which her sainthood is proclaimed would take place some months after the consistory, officials said.

These steps are expected to take place in the next few months. According to Sister Ann Margaret, the formal canonization liturgy may take place as early as this fall.

After receiving the news of the vote in Rome, Sister Ann Margaret relayed the message to all the Sisters of Providence serving in 20 states across America and in Taiwan.

“It was so moving,” she said, after spreading the news among the sisters. “It was just so moving to share this, and to know the reality of this woman and to know that her power is here, that power that she knows through the Spirit of God.”

Another who took joy in the news was Providence Sister Marie Kevin Tighe, who has promoted Blessed Mother Theodore’s Cause for 10 years and served as its vice postulator for the last four years.

She entered the congregation nearly 64 years ago from the former Holy Trinity Parish in New Albany and described her current ministry as the “cherry on top of a very wonderful life.”

“I have always had a profound devotion to Mother Theodore,” Sister Marie Kevin said. “[Promoting the Cause] has called me to a desire for a deeper expression of her virtues and her charism.”

Sister Ann Margaret echoed Sister Marie Kevin’s comment about the impact of Blessed Mother Theodore’s Cause moving closer to canonization, and the effect it has had on her and all the members of the congregation.

“It calls me and it calls us as sisters of Providence to really live as she lived,” Sister Ann Margaret said, “to become more humble, more trusting in Providence, to serve people better, to give ourselves totally to this mission.” †


Local site Links: