Saint Theodora, also known as Mother Theodroe Guerin, grew up in a time and place that made it difficult to practice her faith. She was born on October 2, 1798 in the village of Etables-sur-Mer in Brittany, France, a pivotal point in French history as the Revolution of 1789-1799 was finally coming to an end.
Commoners had been heavily taxed to support the upper classes and the country’s involvement in the American Revolution. Unemployment and food shortages created resentment.
In addition,the intolerance of the Church in France angered the oppressed. This resulted in a violent sweeping out of the clergy, hierarchy, and religious sisters. Many were imprisoned or put to death. Others fled the country or lived in seclusion.
Tensions subsided with the agreement called the Concordat of 1801 between Napoleon and Pope Pius XII. The new government forced the Church to relinquish its property. In time, bishops, priests, and sisters were allowed to return with some restrictions. Slowly the Church in France began to recover.
From a very young age, Saint Theodora realized the need for religious women in her county. Once her mother was well enough to care for herself, Saint Theodora left her family and joined the young congregation of the Sisters of Providence. She wanted to serve the Lord by teaching the faith to children. However, novices received little training due to the immense and immediate need for them. They were sent out as quickly as they entered the community.
Many locations around the world continue to present challenges in practicing one’s faith.Clergy and religious are either unavailable or prohibited from evangelizing and serving.
Those of us who are fortunate to be able to live out our faith, should take full advantage of doing so. What a blessing it is to have the opportunity to receive the sacraments, attend Mass and other services, and have access to religious people to assist us in our spiritual growth.