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Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Vatican has certified two miracles attributed to Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin, and the pope is expected to sign the papers declaring her a saint in the fall.

Blessed Mother Guerin, expected to become the 8th U.S. saint, put down roots in 1840 in Indiana.

It has taken mearly 300 years for the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods to make the case for sainthood fo their founder, Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin. But the sisters they expect cannonization is immiment, and Catholic theologians agrees.

After clearing all the important hurdles, "the way is now open for her cannonization", said Sister Marie Kevin Tighe, a member of the Indiana based order and the leader of the cause for the last decade.

Guerin would be only the 8th saint who spent most of her ministry in the United States.

Just weeks ago, the Ordinary Congregation of the Cardinals in Rome supported the calim of a second miracle atttributed to Guerin's intecession -- teh story of man who eyesight was restored.

That ruling occurs rately and comes only after careful examination of the claim by medical professional and religious leaders. It means that Pope Benedict XVI is likely to declare Guerin a saint, said Lawrence Cunningham, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame and the author of two books on saints.

Officials in Rome told the congregation that cannonization may occur as early as fall, Tighe said.

"Our founder was a woman of great courage who did things that seemed almost insurmountable", she said. "Her spirit is truly an inspiration to anybody".

After a grueling 1840 voyage across the ocean to the U.S. from France, Guerin put down roots in a desolate, thick wood near Terre Haute, Ind. Fighting discrimination and doubt, she established a thriving community of nuns and the oldest Catholic liberal arts college for women in the United States -- St. Mary of the Woods College.

Today, the order she established, still based outside Terre Haute, is a congregation of 465 women engaged in ministries in 20 states, the District of Columbia, Taiwan, China and the Philippines. In the Chicago area, Guerin's legacy lives on through many sisters working in social service, health and educational positions and through Guerin Prep, a co-educational high school in River Grove.

Born Anne Therese Guerin in 1798 in Britanny, France, Guerin was 15 when bandits murdered her father, a naval officer. Devastated, her mother left it to Anne-Therese to care for her younger sister and run the household.

By her 25th birthday, Guerin entered the Sisters of Providence in France, fulfilling a lifelong dream to enter the religious life. As a nun, she was known as Sister St. Theodore.

Shortly after joining the congregation, Guerin got seriously ill, probably with smallpox, and nearly died. Tighe said. Treatments seriously damaged her digestive system,a nd Guerin spent the rest of her life on a diet of liquids and soft foods.

After years of serving the poor and educating young children in France, she had the daunting task of establishing a mission in the United States. Eventually those American sisters would break away from the French order and set up an independent Sisters of Providence order in the United States.

Accounts of her life describe Guerin as a determined woman who faced countless battles in building her congragation, the college, schools, orphanages and numerous ministries for the poor.

A biographer, Penny Blaker Mitchell, described hear as an "ordinary woman who was able to attain extraordinary accomplishments because she loved and trsuted God and worked with God to sahre hope, love and mercy with the people of her day."

Still, making a saint of Guerin has been a long process. After her death in 1856 at age 58, theprocess of documenting her life and intercession was stalled by two world wars.

There was also the job of proving miracles. To become a saint, the church requires two verifiable miracles. Guerin's first occurred in 1908, when the sister who wrote her first biography, Sister Mary Theodosia Mug, claimed Guerin had cured her cancer.

Medical evidence presented from that case was verified by officials in Rome, and Pope John Paul II approved her beatification in 1998. The church then deemed that she had lived a life of Christian virtue. But to become a saint, a second and more recent miracle was required.

After many claims in the last decade, the Sisters of Providence got their most convincing case in 2000. It came from a surprising, close-to-home source -- the director of faciliti4s management for the Sisters of Providence.

Phil McCord, now 59, was struggling with whether he should undergo a cornea transplant to restore visin in the right eye. On a whim, McCord, who is not Catholic, decided to step inside a chapel of St. Mary of the Woods oneday.

As he settled in the pew, McCord asked Guerin not for a cure, but for peace. "By the way, this is your house and I'm your servant," he recalls sayng, "....If you have any influence with God, I'd appreciate it."

The next day, his eye immediately flet better. Two weeks later, the same doctor who had recommended a transplant said he no longer needed it. A man who had glasses since hew as 7 now had perfect eyesight.

Over the next several years, McCord participated in hearings and evidence collection. A panel of witnesses, including two doctors with no connection to McCord, declared there was no medical explanation for his cure.

"I'm a civil engineer: I deal with things I can otuch and sense in the real world and I try to find rational, scientific explanation for things," McCord said, " This is just outside my experience".

"She was a woman of great courage and as her story become known, I just hope that message will come out", McCord said "You know, hope is possible".

(Source:CHICTRIBUNE by Meg McSherry Breslin/Tribune staff reporter/mbreslin@tribune.com)
posted by infraternam meam @ 10:47 PM  
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