Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway
November 20, 2012

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I wish you every blessing for Thanksgiving and in the days leading up to Advent..  Highlights of this month's newsletter:     
  • The text of the authoritative English translation of the authentic edition of The Religious Plays of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux appears online at the Lisieux Carmel Archives.  . 
  • Professor Keith Egan teaches a graduate course about St. Therese of Lisieux for Notre Dame University , open to degree and non-degree students. 
  • The life and death of the Very Rev. John F. Russell,
    O. Carm., a scholar of St. Therese who spoke and wrote tirelessly about her.  
A blessed Advent,

Maureen O'Riordan

The Plays of St. Thérèse online in English

For the first time, the English translation of The Plays of Saint Therese  of Lisieux published by ICS Publications  is
 available online at the English Web site of the Archives of the Lisieux Carmel. The Washington Province of the Discalced Carmelite Friars and the Lisieux Carmel are to be acknowledged for their generous and fruitful partnership.

Still perhaps the least known of all St. Therese's  writings are the eight plays she wrote and produced for the community recreations of the Carmelites.  In 2008 ICS Publications published them in English for the first time, edited by Steven Payne, O.C.D.  To read a play online, click its title:
  1. The Mission of Joan of Arc, or the Shepherdess of Domremy Listening to Her Voices
  2. The Angels at Jesus' Manger
  3. Joan of Arc Accomplishing Her Mission
  4. Jesus at Bethany 
  5. The Divine Little Beggar of Christmas
  6. The Flight into Egypt
  7. The Triumph of Humility
  8. Saint Stanislaus Kostka  
These "pious recreations" were not performed without incident.  When Therese starred in Joan of Arc Accomplishing Her Mission,  as she played Joan at the stake, the stage suddenly caught fire from the spirit-lamps used to simulate the bonfire. endangering Therese.  Mother Gonzague ordered Therese not to move, and Therese obeyed, later telling Celine that she was prepared to die and offered the sacrifice of her life to God.  Again, Therese wrote The Flight into Egypt to celebrate the feast day of her sister Pauline, Mother Agnes, then prioress, on January 21, 1896.  But the performance, in which Therese played the Virgin Mary, was a fiasco: Mother Agnes stopped the performance, declaring that it was too long and had tired the audience out.  Such fascinating details appear in the print copy of this book, which includes a general introduction by Guy Gaucher, O.C.D., as well as an introduction to each play setting forth its context and significance.  I hope that reading the plays online will inspire you to order the book The Plays of St. Therese of Lisieux, which contains much more information about St.Therese as a playwright.

"St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church:"
a graduate course by Professor Keith Egan
of Notre Dame University

Academic courses focused solely on St. Therese of Lisieux are quite rare, so I am happy to announce that Professor Keith Egan, Ph.D. of Notre Dame University will present a graduate course, "Therese of Lisieux: Doctor of the Church" from December 27, 2012 to January 5, 2013 in Tucson, Arizona.
Dr. Keith Egan
Dr. Keith Egan


"Thérèse of Lisieux was declared a doctor of the church in 1997 by Pope John Paul II. Thérèse is only the third woman so designated. The requirements for this doctorate are that one has demonstrated outstanding holiness and eminent doctrine for the universal church. This course will explore the eminent teaching of this young woman who died at age twenty four having composed a religious classic, Story of a Soul, that has had an extraordinary readership in countless languages.  The aim of this course will be to explore from theological perspectives Thérèse's texts: Story of a Soul, her Last Conversations, her Poetry, her Plays, her Prayers and some of her selected letters. We shall investigate how this young woman anticipated several key themes of the Second Vatican Council, and we shall also explore the sources, biblical and otherwise, of her famous "Little Way," which has often been misread. This course will be studied in the context of the theme of the New Evangelization as featured in the Episcopal Synod of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012-50th anniversary of the beginning of Vatican  until November 24, 2013). Thérèse has long been designated  the Patroness of the Missions along with Saint Francis Xavier, hence the issue of the theme of the New Evangelization.  Papers for this course will be due, one at the end of February, and one at the end of March.

Students arrive on December 26; classes begin December 27; last class day January 4; students depart on January 5th.

All are welcome to attend this course as degree seeking or non-degree seeking students. This is a rare opportunity to explore the texts of Thérèse with a group under the guidance of a theologian.  For further information please contact Betsy Karnes at 574-631-4256 or by e-mail at  


        Remember with joy
The Very Rev. John F. Russell, O. Carm.
the friend of Therese 
photograph of Rev. John F Russell, O. Carm.
The Very Rev. John Russell, O. Carm.

Father John Russell, O. Carm. died on September 23, 2012.  A distinguished seminary professor and former prior provincial and novice director of the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, he was a great lover of St. Therese and did much to make her known in the English-speaking world. 

I first met Father John at the symposium "St. Therese, Carmelite: An Experience Today" sponsored by his province in Darien, Illinois in 1988 in honor of the centenary of St. Therese's entrance.  There he presented "The Religious Plays of St. Therese," probably the first lecture on that topic in English (later published in Experiencing St. Therese Today). He encouraged me in my work with unfailing kindness; one of the last letters he wrote me commended my article about the beatification of St. Therese's parents.  Fr. John wrote countless articles about St. Therese.  For more information about and links to his writings on St. Therese, please click here

He was the author of A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. Therese of Lisieux, published by Christus Publishing.  Audiocassettes of his lecture "St. Therese of Lisieux: Transforming Nothingness Into Fire" are available from Alba House.  

With the kind permission of the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary I have reproduced on my Web site the province's announcement of his death, with the story of his life.  For international coverage, see the article published about Fr. John Russell by the British Province of Carmelite Friars after his death.

View below the videotaped homily from Fr. John's funeral Mass:

Funeral Homily for Rev. John Russell, O.Carm.
Funeral Homily for Rev. John Russell, O.Carm.
May St. Therese obtain for him the fulfillment of the desire he shared with her: "to love Jesus and to make Him loved."