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October 4, 2006

Mother Theodore Guerin's remains moved to place of honor

ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS — Hundreds of worshippers stood and sang “The earth is full of the goodness of God” as a small procession carried a tiny wooden coffin holding the partial remains of Mother Theodore Guerin down the center aisle of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Mother Theodore, who founded the Sisters of Providence mission at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840, will achieve sainthood in Rome Oct. 15.

Worshippers lined up for 30 minutes to touch Mother Theodore’s coffin, which makes up part of a modest wooden shrine next to the church’s alter.

“We just recognized a holy woman,” said Sister Denise Wilkinson, general superior for the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She called on the congregates to “help one another to be saints.”

The shrine that serves as Mother Theodore’s resting place is only temporary, according to Rev. Dan Hopcus, chaplain for the congregation. He said a more permanent shrine will eventually be built.

Tuesday’s ceremony fell on the same day as the annual feast celebration in honor of Mother Theodore.

“This is the last time we will be celebrating a feast for Mother Theodore,” Sister Marie McCarthy told the assembly. By the time of the next feast, she will be Saint Theodore Guerin, she said.

Mother Theodore’s small wooden coffin, which was made by Sisters of Providence carpenters Tony Dubois and Tim Wilson, was constructed from walnut and is just over five feet in length. Walnut was chosen because that is one of the types of trees that grows on the Sisters of Providence grounds, Dubois said.

Wilkinson, the general superior, is one of three people from the Sisters of Providence at Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods who will go before Pope Benedict XVI when Mother Theodore is canonized. Past general superior, Sister Ann Margaret O’Hara and Phil McCord, the director of facilities maintenance for the Sisters of Providence will also be present.

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