Missionaries make great personal sacrifices to promote the faith to people who may otherwise never know Jesus. In 1840 Saint Theodora, also known as St. Mother Theodore Guerin, and her five companions left their families, friends, and familiarity of their native country to sail across the ocean to the dense forests of the American Midwest. Their mission was to open Catholic schools for children and the higher education of women and recruit and teach young women to assist them in their work as Sisters of Providence.
This year marks the beginning of a celebration in honor of the Sisters’ 175 year history in the U.S. In the month of October, we remember St. Theodora’s birthday (October 2) and feast day (October 3).
Festivities for the year of celebrations in honor of their anniversary begin on Foundation Day (October 22), the day Saint Theodora and five other sisters set foot on the soil of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. On that day there will be a celebration of the Eucharist at 11 a.m. in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
October 25 is the grand opening of the shrine of Saint Mother Theodore/Saint Theodora. Tours and light refreshments will be available from 1 to 4 p.m. and conclude with a prayer service at 4 p.m.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods sits on 1200 wooded acres nestled in the Midwest near Terre Haute, Indiana. The peaceful grounds are lovely year-round and feature a marker where St. Theodora first stepped off the carriage, statues of Our Lady of Fatima and honored saints, a grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes, the Saint Anne Shell Chapel, the cemetery of the Sisters of Providence, Our Lady of Providence chapel, Church of the Immaculate Conception, Providence Gift Shop, an alpaca farm, the Sisters of Providence motherhouse, and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College campus as well as the new shrine. The opportunity to walk the physical steps of a saint and pray close to her remains is a spiritual experience worth the trip.
More celebrations are scheduled for next year as well.
©2014, Mary K. Doyle