Anne-Thérèse Guérin was born in Etables, France, but eventually became an American saint. Her life was shattered by her father’s murder when she was 15. For several years she cared for her mother and younger sister. She entered the Sisters of Providence in 1823, taking the name Sister St. Theodore. An illness during novitiate left her with lifelong fragile health, but that did not keep her from becoming an accomplished teacher.
At the invitation of the bishop of Vincennes, Indiana, Theodora and five sisters were sent to St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, in 1840, to teach and to care for the sick poor. She was to establish a motherhouse and novitiate. Only later did she learn that her French superiors had decided the sisters in the United States should form a new religious congregation under her leadership.
Mother Theodore and her community persevered despite fires, crop failures, prejudice against Catholic women religious, misunderstandings and separation from their original religious congregation. Therodora once told her sisters, “Have confidence in the Providence that so far has never failed us. The way is not yet clear. Grope along slowly. Do not press matters; be patient, be trustful.” Another time she asked, “With Jesus, what shall we have to fear?”
Mother Theodore was buried in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, now the Shrine of St. Mother Theodore, in St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was beatified in 1998, and canonized as St. Theodora Guérin eight years later.
Adapted by A.J. Valentini