My son attended a high school that was born in 2004. Blessed Theodore Guerin High School. Two years after it opened, Blessed Theodore Guerin was canonized a saint in Rome at St. Peter’s Basilica thus changing it to St. Theodore Guerin High School. Many students, parents, and staff went to Rome to celebrate that miracle. Two students had the privilege of processing in with Pope Benedict, one carrying his staff. The chance for any of us to participate in the canonization of a saint, or to be closely connected to one becoming a saint is about ten million to one or more.
Theodore Guerin was born in 1798 in France. In 1839, years after she had entered the religious life, she was summoned to the United States to form a community that educated, provide religious instruction and assist the ailing. She was excited and willing. She made the journey over the pond with five of her Sister compadres.
They found themselves dumped into a dense forest outside of Terre Haute, Indiana with desolation abounding for miles. I am thinkin’ that is not what they had envisioned. They persevered. I love that. I would have gone home. Without going into details, St. Mary of the Woods college was born and today is a sacred place for the education of women .
My good friend who graced me with her presence (waving her stunning St. Mary of the Woods ring around me as usual) over the holidays brought me the 2013 St. Mary of the Woods Calendar with wonderful quotes from Theodore giving her impression of Indiana in those early days of , what I would think, tremendous challenge. By the way, I want to take online courses so that I, too, one day can wear one of those rings. So cool. There is something about this place, that I have never visited, that calls out to me. I know that there is a big part of me that would like to be a nun and I know they have them there. And then there is the ring, of course. And my dear friend who I look up to because she had the privilege of going to St. Mary of the Woods. And my son went to St. Theodore Guerin which was probably the most incredible experience that our family encountered. And she, herself, says that any one of us could be a saint. I know that is a little lofty of me to think I can be one. But, it would be pretty cool, wouldn’t you say? I want to be touched by this woman.
So, what did she say, back then, about our Hoosierland?
“The beauty of the forests of Indiana in the rich and lovely month of May surpasses all description. The rivers, swollen by the rains, flow through long lanes of verdure, caressing the islands they seem to carry with them in their course and which look like floating nosegays. The trees raise their straight trunks to the height of more than a hundred and twenty feet and are crowned with tops of admirable beauty. The magnolia, the dogwood, the catalpa covered with white flowers, the perfumed snow of the springtime, intermingle with the delicate green of the other trees.”
Uh, yes. This still exists.
“….each excursion we discover something marvelous, beautiful, and useful..At each step we can admire the grandeur, the power, the goodness of God…..I love our woods and solitude very much.”
Amen to that.
She says, ” We have much to suffer from the climate. It is so changeable that in one day we sometimes experience extremes both of heat and cold. For three or four weeks the heat has been suffocating….When there is no breeze at all, one can scarcely breathe. …..At St. Mary’s it has rained only once since the last days of April (written in July)…..It is surprising that the trees, and even the corn, etc. remain fresh looking in such a drought. This is owing, unquestionably to the heavy dew which falls every night. ”
“This land was no longer for me the land of exile; it was the portion of my inheritance, and in it I hope to dwell all the days of my life.”
Yeah, me too.
“What have we to do in order to be saints? Nothing extraordinary; nothing more than what we do every day. Only do it for his love.
My goal. Lofty. Unattainable. Nonetheless.