Today is the feast day of Saint Theodora/Saint Mother Theodore Guérin. Known by both names, this incredible woman was a pioneer on the American frontier, evangelist, teacher, visionary, mentor, caregiver to the sick and poor, leader, and founder of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods religious community and the college known as St. Mary-of-the-Woods.
St. Theodora was born on October 2, 1798 in Etables, Brittany France and continues to be a role model relevant to the world today. She faced many challenges including family tragedy, a chronic health disorder, financial instability, difficult superiors and subordinates and the strain of managing large schools in France and America as well as a budding religious community. Throughout it all, she put her trust in the Lord. Strong, wise, and courageous, she leaned on Providence, as she recommended her sisters and students to do, and in doing so, she found herself well-supported.
Saint Theodora and the sisters were very generous with their meager resources. They devoted their lives to assisting others to the greatest extent of their abilities. They took little for themselves, welcomed students who could not pay tuition, cared for the sick and poor in their communities, and ran a free pharmacy.
She also was practical. In a letter to the Reverend Joseph Kundek, in 1850 in response to his request of an organist, Saint Theodora said she could not help him. None of the sisters at that time could play the organ. She said that she couldn’t give what God did not give to her.
Years earlier, Saint Theodora wrote, ”Let us do what depends on us to advance the glory of our dear Jesus, the Spouse of our souls and of His Holy Church. After that, let us remain in peace; for we are not called upon to do all the good possible, but only that which we can do” (Letter to the Reverend J. Kundek on September 27, 1842)
(Seven Principle of Sainthood Following St Mother Theodore Guerin is available from Amazon.com, ACTA Publications, and my website.