Saint Théodora (Anne-Thérèse Guerin), 1798-1856
Anne-Therese Guerin knew she wanted to become a nun from the date of her first Communion at the age of ten. She joined the Sisters of Providence at Ruillé-sur-Loir in 1823. She took her final vows in 1831 and taught in Rennes and Soulaines, France. While in Soulaines, she studied medicine with a local physician.
She was sent with five other sisters to the diocese of Vincennes, Indiana, in 1840. There they established the Academy of St. Mary-of-the-Woods at Terre Haute, Indiana. This was the first Catholic women’s liberal arts college in the United States. She also established schools at eleven locations in Indiana and one in Illinois. In addition, she founded an orphanage for girls and another one for boys.
Mother Theodore followed the example of Jesus in ministering to the less fortunate. Using her knowledge of medicine, she opened pharmacies that gave free medicine to the poor.
During the nearly sixteen years of her ministry in Indiana, Mother Theodore encountered countless hardships, including prejudice against Catholics. But her faith did not waver. She advised the Sisters of Providence, “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.” She also told the sisters, “With Jesus, what shall we have to fear?”
Mother Theodore was declared Venerable by Saint Pope John Paul II in 1992 and was beatified by the Holy Father six years later.
Discuss: Saint Théodora said, “Do not press matters, be patient, be trustful.” How can her words of wisdom be helpful to you?
Life on the Frontier
Mother Theodore came to Indiana in 1840. Have the young people research what life might have been like for Mother Theodore and the other five nuns in Indiana in 1840.