News and Tribune

Clark County

October 15, 2006

In Rome, Indiana pilgrims gather at vigil on eve of canonization

ROME — The ceiling, walls and altar of the massive Church of the Gesu already bore spectacular religious paintings and sculptures. But the last rays of Saturday afternoon sun streaming through its windows and the vivid celebration of the life of Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin gave an overflow congregation a colorful sendoff toward an historic moment. By sunrise today, most planned to be at St. Peter’s Square inside Vatican City, watching Pope Benedict XVI canonize Guerin as a saint.

Saturday’s prayer vigil included nearly 500 people from the Wabash Valley and Indiana who made a pilgrimmage to Italy to witness the events, as well as hundreds of interested Catholics from Rome and other parts of Europe. Many of the Terre Haute-area congregants hailed from two living legacies of Guerin’s work more than 150 years ago — the Sisters of Providence at St. Mary-of-the-Woods, and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College.

Among the hundreds, in the back row of the front section, sat Phil McCord and his wife Debbie. It was the healing of McCord’s degenerating eyesight through his prayer to Guerin for her intercession that led to her approaching sainthood. It was the second of two miracles recognized by the Catholic Church that qualified her for canonization as one of just eight saints from the United States, and the first from Indiana.

As the congregants filed out of the church Saturday, Sister Estelle Scully walked toward McCord and hugged him. “I’ve been praying for this since I was in the third grade,” said Scully, one of the Sisters of Providence. “And now I’m 80.”

As Scully walked away, McCord said, “This is a joyous occasion for everybody, just watching the sisters and seeing the sisters from different parts of the country that we don’t see often and the joy on their faces at the recognition of Mother Theodore is just fantastic.”

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