Click here to download and view the St. Theodore Guerin Novena.
by Paul Lunsford
I wish to share with all of you a beautiful example of God's Providence and how it has impacted the school. In a slow and progressive manner, as I have taken the helm of Guerin Catholic High School, I have come to understand the importance of Mother Guerin's influence to our school. Her example of trusting in God's plan implicitly and not our own is the most important lesson we can learn. In addition, I am learning to be humble and patient enough to let His plan take place.
With that prelude I would like to share this story with you...
In July 2010, I went to the chapel for daily prayer. While I was in prayer, a prayer that was disturbed and bothered as sometimes prayer can bewith the day-to-day pressures and concerns of life. I was able to focus myself just enough to close my prayer with God when I had an overwhelming thought that we should consider the commissioning of an icon of Mother Guerin. So with great enthusiasm, I made the sign of the cross and turned to exit the chapel. As I exited, my mind was racing with thoughts on how to accomplish this. As I passed Father Dale Ehrman's office I noticed he was talking with a woman which seemed to be about life's pleasantries, when it dawned on me that I should ask permission of our Vicar if it is appropriate for a high school to commission something as grace-filled as an icon.
So as to politely interrupt them, I tapped gently on the doorframe and began with this question, "Father, is it appropriate for our school to commission an icon"? His immediate response was, "of who"? "Mother Guerin", I said. Both faces turned to me in a flash and laughter erupted. Father then introduced me to his friend from Minnesota, Jan Storms who had studied extensively, Russian "iconography" and had started an icon of Mother Guerin, four years earlier after seeing her canonized in Rome. Jan had come to Indianapolis to meet with Father Dale seeking his counsel to continue her work in iconography or go back to school. We all were struck by the gravity of this profound moment, looking at each other, with mouths agape, in excited wonder of what had just occurred in our presence.
My obscure question came with such precise timing and subject matter it only made sense to me to return to the chapel for my discernment of my next step, which was to commission Jan Storms to create an icon for our school.
In October 2010, Jan came to Guerin Catholic bringing the icon of Mother Guerin two-thirds finished. She set for interviews with students and other faculty to explain the processes of real, spiritual, and divinely inspired iconography. Her interview gave us new insight to the creation of an icon. They are not drawn, nor are they considered art or artists. The icon is a divine written work and the person or writer, its messenger. Jan explained, even though, we are using her image from her canonization we should not assume the image would be the same. Common to the experience of creating an icon the graceful expressions of the saint will change to meet the purpose of the placement.
With somewhat unexpected joy when Jan returned on December 16, 2010 to bring us the finished expression we found it not to represent the 55-year old canonized saint but a young sister of about 20-years old. What better image for her mission for the students here at Guerin Catholic High School. If you read Mother Guerin's books she will take us all to task on what it means to count on God for everything. She knew from her experience that allowing God to complete His plan was far wiser than using the force of human will to create ours. She came from nothing, brought with her little, received little upon arrival, was challenged, discouraged, and inhibited by her local authorities but all the while succeeding in building a beautiful school for woman who could come to know the plan God has for their lives.
In my first year as president of the school, I was challenged with accounts of seemingly impossible magnitudes that stood in the way of the success of Guerin Catholic High School. Challenged with financial stumbling blocks to meet our debt requirements and capital needed to complete the construction of the school for our expected eight hundred students. Along with the challenges in weaving a wonderfully talented and spiritually gifted staff called to work together on their own spiritual development that will shape the direction of Guerin Catholic's God-given mission. Every month that went by, I was taken by the power of "God's Providence" and for that matter the works, grace, and encouragement of Mother Guerin in the hallways of Guerin Catholic. It happens here often. Many times we have been in difficult meetings only to return to our desks to find an email or letter solving our problem.
In order for an Icon to be completed, its last step is, it must be blessed at a mass. The miracle for Christmas 2010 is on the day of Mother Guerin's Icon commissioning and just fifteen minutes before mass we received communication from a benefactor of a significant financial gift. This gift helped Guerin Catholic stand on its feet with great confidence for the future. To this miracle we say, "Mother Guerin, thank you".
In conclusion, we need to focus our hearts on the fact that God loves us so much that He gave His own Son, to teach us to live and then to die for us, so that we may have eternal life. If we have the courage to follow the model as Mother Guerin did giving everything, all our cares, and aspirations to Christ, we too can be Saints!
It is my desire, hope, and prayer that each of us will have the courage, faith, and confidence to give every day, its good, and its bad to our Lord so to let Him direct our lives in HIS providence.
Please come in to see our Icon of Mother Guerin (pictured above). It is on display in our chapel and may be prayed with any time school is open.
May God Continue to Bless you,
Paul Lunsford President, St. Theodore Guerin High School
St. Theodore (Anne-Therese) Guerin was born October 2, 1798, in Etables, France. She entered the Sisters of Providence of Ruille-sur-Loir in 1823. Mother Theodore educated children and cared for the sick poor in France for 17 years.
In 1840, in response to a request from the bishop of Vincennes, Indiana, Mother Theodore led a group of five Sisters of Providence to the United States to establish a motherhouse and novitiate, to educate children of pioneer families and to care for the sick poor.
Mother Theodore and her companion sisters arrived in the remote forest wilderness of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, the evening of October 22, 1840.
The following summer, Mother Theodore opened an Academy, now known as Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. In March 1842, she opened a school in Jasper, Indiana. In the years that followed, Mother Theodore established schools throughout Indiana, two orphanages in Vincennes and free pharmacies at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in Vincennes.
Mother Theodore died May 14, 1856.
In October 1998, Mother Theodore received the title "Blessed" during a beatification ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. On July 2, 2006, word came from the Vatican that Mother Theodore was going to be canonized into sainthood on Oct. 15, 2006.
On October 15, Mother Theodore was canonized into sainthood along with Bishop Rafael Guizar Valencia from Mexico, along with Italians Fillipo Smaldone and Rosa Venerini. Canonization is the formal declaration by the Church that a Christian whose life was an outstanding witness to Christian virtue is now in heaven and interceding for us. With canonization, Mother Theodore received the title “saint” and was approved to be venerated by the worldwide Church. As the patroness of Saint Theodore Guerin High School and the first “Hoosier” to become declared a saint, her canonization is a historic event for the school and entire community.
A shrine honoring Mother Theodore is located in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
St. Theodore Guerin's feast day is celebrated October 3.