Speaking at a Catholic Wake

If you’ve ever been asked to speak at a wake or funeral you know the pressure of finding the right words to honor the deceased. To Say a Few Words. Guidelines for Those Offering Words of Remembrance at a Catholic Funeral is the guide we’ve been looking for to do this with faith and respect.


The Catholic Church has specific rules for speaking at funerals and each diocese adds its own requirements. These rules are so that nothing distracts from the Eucharist and liturgy. To Say a Few Words explains these guidelines and offers examples of how to present a short, prayerful expression of remembrance for the deceased. It’s a little handbook bereavement committees, funeral homes, and church libraries should keep on hand for intended speakers.

You can get the book and ebook of To Say a Few Words here.

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A Visit to the Shrine

The new St. Mother Theodore Guerin/St. Theodora shrine is now open, and it is a destination to put on your travel list. Only a small percentage of canonized saints are native or naturalized North Americans, so the opportunity to come so close to the remains of a saint is rare on our continent.

In the hallway before the shrine are a series of dioramas that tell the story of the founding sisters’ journey to the New World and their early missionary work here. The miniatures offer a visual description of the perseverance needed to establish the first school and convent and survive the harsh life of the wilderness.


Continuing down the hallway and beyond the double doors is the modest entrance to the shrine.


Once visitors enter the doorway nestled beneath the adoration chapel, the site is surprisingly spacious. Quotes from St. Theodora, or Mother Theodore Guerin, which is the name the Sisters have always known her by, and information about her and the works of the Sisters of Providence, are sprinkled along winding pathways.


Her personal items also are exhibited in such a way that it isn’t difficult to imagine St. Theodora using them right there.


The main part of the shrine that features the saint’s remains is simple and bright. You can kneel before the coffin and even reach across and touch it. To be so close to such a holy person’s remains is quite a moving and inspiring experience.


The document declaring St. Theodora’s canonization is displayed in that room as well.


The shrine is located on 1200 acres shared by the Sisters of Providence motherhouse and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College campus.


Throughout the grounds, notable information is offered on markers that highlight where St. Theodora and her companions first stepped off the carriage, lived, and worked. You’ll even find a replica of the cabin where Bishop Brute, the first bishop of Vincennes, offered the first Mass at St. Mary-of-the-Woods.


©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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To Live Like a Saint


Year-long festivities begin on October 22, 2014 with the celebration of the Eucharist honoring 175 years of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. Saint Mother Theodore, also known as Saint Theodora, and five other sisters arrived in the U.S. in 1840 with the mission to bring the Catholic faith to the children and adult women of the American Midwest. The religious community and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College continue today on that sight.

Saint Mother Theodore was a courageous and compassionate woman known even in her time as saintly. Her unfailing faith guided her through the hardships of the wilderness, prejudice against women and Catholics, and the challenges of building schools throughout Illinois and Indiana.

Seven Principles of Sainthood, which I wrote after attending Saint Mother Theodore’s canonization, shows how she prayed with the saints, trusted in Providence, spread the Word of the Lord, lead by serving, was just and kind, forgave like Jesus, and strove for humility. Historical references and personal examples are drawn from her letters and journals and archived materials. Every chapter of this readable and inspiring book includes supporting Scripture verses and ways in which we may follow in her footsteps.

(For more information on the celebrations at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, IN, see the Sisters of Providence website at www.sistersofprovidence.org or Saint Mary –of-the-Woods College atwww.SMWC.edu)

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Our Lady of The Rosary

Mary 1 Joyful

St. Theodora had a great devotion to the Rosary. The enlarged Rosary beads hung from her waist for easy access to pray throughout the day, as it does with so many sisters dressed in habits.

The Rosary is a Christocentric devotion, meaning that the prayer form is centered on Christ. We begin the Rosary with our dedication to the Trinity with the Sign of the Cross. We declare the basic truths of Christianity with the Apostles’ Creed. Throughout the Rosary, we meditate upon the greatest mysteries of our Catholic faith. And as we progress through the beads, we pray the Lord ’s Prayer, glorify the Lord with the Glory Be, and remember the magnificent gift of the Incarnation and ask Mary to pray for us now and at the hour of our death with the Hail Mary.

The Rosary has a history of more than a thousand years beginning with a group of Irish monks who prayed 150 Our Fathers on a string of beads in honor of the 150 Psalms. The prayer form soon evolved and in 1571 Pope St. Pius V approved the rosary as we know it today with three sets of Mysteries: The Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious. Pope Saint John Paul II approved an additional set of mysteries, known as the Luminous Mysteries, in 2002.

The Virgin Mary is said to have appeared numerous times requesting us to pray the Rosary. She is believed to have appeared to St. Dominic (1170-1221) and others requesting the Rosary be prayed as a weapon against war and a means to grow closer to her son, Jesus.

The month of October is traditionally known as the month of the Rosary. We celebrate Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7, a title by which Mary referred to herself when she appeared to Saints Lucia, Jacinta, and Francesco in Fatima, Portugal in 1917.

A book I’ve written, The Rosary Prayer by Prayer, has more information on the development of the rosary, its significance, and additional prayers that may be said. With this book the Rosary may be prayed by following page-by-page. Each Mystery includes a diagram to show on which beads we pray these prayers, original artwork by my son, Joseph Cannella, corresponding Scripture verses, and a reflection.

Mary 1 Joyful Scripture
Reflection Rosary

Why not begin the practice of praying the Rosary every day in this month of the Rosary? In doing so, you will be greatly surprised at the graces that come your way. It’s a very relaxing and inspiring devotion that will increase your love for Jesus and his mother, Mary and promote peace in your heart.

(Artwork: The Annunciation by Joseph Cannella, graphite)

©Mary K. Doyle

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The Last Book of Catholic Jokes

Public speakers, priests, and ministers begin many a homily or presentation with a bit of humor. A little joke can grab the audience’s attention and set a tone for the rest of their talk. The Last Book of Catholic Jokes, written and chosen by Deacon Tom Sheridan, former editor of the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago, has plenty of jokes you can repeat, use in your presentations, and pass on to friends.

See more on this book review here.

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Love is All We Need

We aren’t a Christian if we aren’t a loving person, says Leonard Doohan in his book, The One Thing Necessary. Love is the central message of the Bible and Christianity. It is the basis of our faith, and it is impossible to practice Christianity if we are not respectful and caring to our brothers and sisters. Read more about the book,The One Thing Necessary on Doyle’s Delights.

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Happy Anniversary Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN


Missionaries make great personal sacrifices to promote the faith to people who may otherwise never know Jesus. In 1840 Saint Theodora, also known as St. Mother Theodore Guerin, and her five companions left their families, friends, and familiarity of their native country to sail across the ocean to the dense forests of the American Midwest. Their mission was to open Catholic schools for children and the higher education of women and recruit and teach young women to assist them in their work as Sisters of Providence.

This year marks the beginning of a celebration in honor of the Sisters’ 175 year history in the U.S. In the month of October, we remember St. Theodora’s birthday (October 2) and feast day (October 3).

Festivities for the year of celebrations in honor of their anniversary begin on Foundation Day (October 22), the day Saint Theodora and five other sisters set foot on the soil of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. On that day there will be a celebration of the Eucharist at 11 a.m. in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

October 25 is the grand opening of the shrine of Saint Mother Theodore/Saint Theodora. Tours and light refreshments will be available from 1 to 4 p.m. and conclude with a prayer service at 4 p.m.

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods sits on 1200 wooded acres nestled in the Midwest near Terre Haute, Indiana. The peaceful grounds are lovely year-round and feature a marker where St. Theodora first stepped off the carriage, statues of Our Lady of Fatima and honored saints, a grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes, the Saint Anne Shell Chapel, the cemetery of the Sisters of Providence, Our Lady of Providence chapel, Church of the Immaculate Conception, Providence Gift Shop, an alpaca farm, the Sisters of Providence motherhouse, and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College campus as well as the new shrine. The opportunity to walk the physical steps of a saint and pray close to her remains is a spiritual experience worth the trip.

More celebrations are scheduled for next year as well.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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