November 6, 1998

New book published on
Mother Theodore’s life

By William R. Bruns

A new biography of Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin has recently been published by the Office of Congregational Advancement of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Titled Mother Theodore Guérin: A Woman for Our Time, the book was written by Penny Blaker Mitchell. The 175-page paperback has 17 pages of black and white historical photos, including a 1855 daguerreotype (an early photographic process) of Mother Theodore.

Called a “popular biography” (as opposed to an academic biography), the book can enjoyably be read in one or two sittings. With just enough detail, it chronicles the life of the foundress of the Sisters of Providence from her birth 200 years ago on Brittany’s seacoast in the village of Étables, France, to her death at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, on May 14, 1856.

An epilogue outlines the various steps that have been taken in the 90-year-old “cause” for Mother Theodore’s beatification and perhaps eventual sainthood.

Included in the epilogue is a detailed account of the 1908 miraculous cure from cancer of Sister Mary Theodosia Mug, S.P.—a result of the intercession of Mother Theodore.

New book published on Mother Theodore’s life Penny Blaker Mitchell, editorial associate for the Providence Sisters’ Office of Congregational Advancement, writes in a clear and engaging style, managing to draw the reader into the trials and triumphs of this 19th century middle-aged French religious who successfully struggled in the Indiana wilderness to establish a congregation of religious women who would meet the needs of the poor, the sick and the uneducated in a rugged pioneer diocese that would eventually become the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Blaker Mitchell reveals Mother Theodore as a complex woman who trustingly abandons her life to Divine Providence while tackling everyday challenges with the wit and pragmatic wisdom of a highly educated Breton.

The subtitle of the book, “A Woman for Our Time,” perhaps best captures the essence of the woman who was Mother Theodore Guérin. When she saw a need, she adapted her life and her circumstances to meet the need—always with a great love for and trust in the God she called Providence.

In her introduction, Blaker Mitchell says that Mother Theodore was “an ordinary woman who was able to attain extraordinary accomplishments.” And the author makes the point that Mother Theodore, the leader and foundress of a congregation of women religious, was also a “teacher,
administrator, businesswoman, farmer, builder, nurse, care giver, daughter, friend, nurturer of hearts and souls, woman of faith, woman of Providence.”

Mother Theodore’s life in the 19th century, so filled with everyday worries, joys and cares, was not at
all unlike our own lives at the end of the 20th century. She met the challenges facing her by placing her trust in God.

All in all, Mother Theodore Guérin is a role model, a hero, for all of us—women and men—today. If
only we could consistently follow her example.

This book is highly recommended for anyone wanting to learn more about this newest Beata of
our Church who is truly “a woman for our time.”

(Mother Theodore Guérin: A Woman for Our Time sells for $10 plus tax and shipping and is
available from The Gift Shop, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana 47876, 812-535-3131, ext.
143. A children’s book and audiotape, The Story of Anne-Thérèse, is also available from The Gift Shop for $8.95 plus tax and shipping.

It was written by Providence Sisters Brendan Harvey and Beatrice Hoberg and illustrated by
Providence Sister Adelaide Ortegel. It tells the story of Mother Theodore’s childhood in France
.) †

Information provided above may be outdated; call the Sisters of Providence for more information.


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