Shrine celebrates beatification centennial of St. Thérèse of Lisieux


BURRILLVILLE — Saturday, April 29, marked the feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Every year, Catholics around the world honor St. Thérèse on this day, but this year in particular is of special importance, for it marks the 100 year anniversary of her beatification.
St. Thérèse was beatified by Pope Pius XI on April 29, 1923, and was canonized a saint a little over two years later in May of 1925, also by Pope Pius XI.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of her beatification, local faithful gathered at St. Thérèse Shrine in Burrillville for a series of celebrations in honor of the great 19th century saint.
The day’s celebration began with Holy Mass celebrated by Father Jaime García, the pastor of St. Charles Parish in Providence.
Prayers were offered in Spanish and English, and in his homily, Father García described the spirituality of St. Thérèse and its ongoing significance for contemporary Catholics.
“St. Thérèse loved the Gospels. The Gospels are the basis of her spirituality,” Father García explained, noting how the Gospel call for the faithful to be humble was the cornerstone of her spiritual worldview. Yet, Father García explained, this strong emphasis on smallness or humility is not the same as weakness.

Rather, Father García noted, humility meant, for St. Thérèse, recognizing our utter dependence on the Cross and deriving our spiritual and moral strength from Jesus’ saving mission.
“She lived with tremendous strength at the foot of the Cross, soaking herself in the precious blood of Christ shed for us, and so she tried to live at every moment of her life,” Father García said.
This led St. Thérèse to emphasize the fact that we must foster a sense of love for God and openness to God’s love for us, which in turn creates a sense of intense joy within the soul. This joy and love expresses itself in a deepened prayer life and a desire to serve. It is this act of serving others with enthusiasm and joy that is a sign of true discipleship and being filled with the Holy Spirit.
After Mass, Father García led a procession around the shrine with the relics of St. Thérèse, while participants chanted the Litany of St. Thérèse. After the procession, Father García blessed the participants with the relics of St. Thérèse.
The procession was followed by lunch offered by the Shrine for the participants. Many of the participants were deeply touched by the day’s events.
Silvia Lepicki, a consecrated virgin, visited the Shrine from Boston with a group of young girls associated with the Florecilla de la Teresita (“The Little Flowers of the Little Thérèse”), a girls club dedicated to cultivating and promoting the Little Way, another term for the spirituality of St. Thérèse. Members of this group were asked to participate in the procession after Mass, holding candles and leading the way in the procession.
“I feel very honored and humbled. It’s my first time leading a procession,” Lepicki said. “I am more than honored, I am overjoyed that the girls are able to be here and experience this and be a part of the anniversary of the beatification of St. Thérèse,” she noted, explaining that being able to participate in the procession underscores the need for humility and childlike innocence that is at the heart of both the Gospels and the spirituality of St. Thérèse.
Ibeth Dealencar, a parishioner at St. Patrick Parish in Providence, was particularly moved by the ability of the day’s events to bring together Catholics of diverse backgrounds.
“I was amazed that they were celebrating the 100th anniversary of the beatification of St. Thérèse,” she said “It’s beautiful to see many different kinds of people involved today in the celebrations. You see people of different countries or nationalities. It’s a good sign, because it’s a sign of unity in the Church.”
“It was beautiful,” Dealaencar said of the procession. “I was praying because this is the time that we need to pray, now more than ever. With all the things that are going on, God needs our prayers, and we need to pray.”
Also present were members of the Legion of Mary from Holy Name Parish in Providence, an organization dedicated to promoting devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
When asked what he thought was one of the most powerful lessons learned from St. Thérèse, Richard Davis, one of the members said, “I think for me particularly it was her humility and her willingness to offer humble sacrifices throughout the day. For me, that’s always difficult, that sense of humility and being little, of being small.”
Davis went on to describe the Little Way of St. Thérèse — the spirituality that emphasizes making small sacrifices or doing humble acts of service on a daily basis motivated by great love — as “the easiest way to sainthood.”
“We really wanted to honor St. Thérèse, and this is a universal jubilee year for her, and so, naturally, in the Shrine of St. Thérèse, we wanted to honor her in a special way,” said Sister Grace, one of the organizers of the day’s events.
By honoring St. Thérèse, Sister Grace noted that we are continuing to make known her example.
“The popes have said that she is the greatest saint of modern times, and I feel that the reason is because we can’t all be burned at the stake like Joan of Arc, or travel to a foreign country as a missionary, but we can always eat food that we don’t like, we can always smile when we’re feeling tired, we can always offer to help somebody, especially if they are a little bit difficult in personality. The little things that she did, we can all do, and they’re powerful, they are very powerful, for the conversion of souls.”