Anne-Thérèse Guérin (In religion, Mother Theodore)
Born at Etables (Côte du Nord), Brittany, France, 2 October, 1798; died 14 May, 1856.
She entered the Community of Sisters of Providence, Ruillé-sur-Loire, in 1823, received the religious habit and, by dispensation, made profession of vows, 8 September, 1824, being appointed the same day to the superiorship of the convent at Rennes. She was transferred to Soulaines in 1833, chosen foundress of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Diocese of Vincennes, Indiana, in 1840, and at the same time declared superior general of the Sisters of Providence in America. The “Life and Life-Work” (1904) of [Bl.] Mother Theodore Guérin reveals her to have been, in the words of [James] Cardinal Gibbons, who furnishes the introduction:
A woman of uncommon valour, one of those religious athletes whose life and teachings effect a spiritual fecundity that secures vast conquests to Christ and His holy Church. . . . Not the least glory encircling the diocese was its possessing such a magnanimous pioneer Religious. . . . She was distinctively a diplomat in religious organizations and eminently a teacher.
Father Charles Coppens, S.J., adds:
She was a very superior woman both in natural gifts and in supernatural virtues. She lived a life of extraordinary union with God and conformity to His holy will, and she practised these virtues under the most difficult circumstances, where they required heroic faith, hope and charity. A perfect model of consummate virtue for all classes of the faithful, but especially for religious men and women.
[Bl.] Mother Theodore’s mental attainments were of a superior order. The French Academy recognized her scholarship by according her medallion decorations. She was skilled in medicine and was a thorough theologian. As foundress of an institution whose expansion is evidence of her energetic and penetrating spirit, her whole history is a record of the power of holy souls who live but for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind.
[Note: Anne-Thérèse (Mother Theodore) Guérin was canonized Rome by Pope Benedict XVI on 15 October, 2006.]