Monday, October 16, 2006

First Hoosier saint canonized.

19th-century Indiana nun Mother Théodore Guérin yesterday became the first resident of the Hoosier State to be canonized. Born Anne-Thérèse Guerin in Brittany in 1798, the future saint spent much of her youth helping her widowed mother care for their family. Guérin entered the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé-sur-Loir at age 24, taking Théodore as her religious name. After spending nearly twenty years teaching in her congregation's schools in France, Sister Théodore was appointed superior of a new mission in the frontier diocese of Vincennes, Indiana. Mother Théodore and five companion sisters established the mission of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods near Terre Haute in October 1840. In time, this small foundation matured into a new congregation of religious women, the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, with Mother Théodore Guérin as the first superior general. Mother Guérin and her sisters founded and staffed a number of Catholic schools throughout Indiana, including Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. Mother Guérin died in 1856, and the proceedings leading to her ultimate canonization began fifty-three years later. Understandably, Indiana news outlets are making much of the Hoosier State's first canonized saint. The Indianapolis Star has extensive coverage of the story, including eyewitness reports from Indiana residents who traveled to Rome to take part in the canonization liturgy. The saint's local paper, the Tribune Star of Terre Haute, has even more to say with a special webpage including numerous articles and photos on Mother Guérin's elevation to sainthood. Not to be outdone by the secular media, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis has its own canonization webpage as well as a Mother Théodore blog.

As a former Indiana resident - albeit a transient one - I take pride in Mother Guérin's canonization. I'm also happy to congratulate two authentic Hoosier Jesuits - my classmate Mike Singhurse and first-year novice Christopher Gagnon, both of whom come from Terre Haute - on this great occasion. Finally, I pray that Mother Guérin's example will inspire future generations of Hoosier Catholics to answer the call to service in the Church. AMDG.


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