16: Thérèse of Lisieux

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women in the ELCA, the 40th anniversary of women of color, and the 10th anniversary of LGBTQ+ siblings.

It’s an incredibly important marker for the ELCA, though it is only the beginning for the Church, as women are still denied ordination across the denominations and hold less than 15% of the leadership positions in the worldwide church! Therefore, in 2020, we in the Oregon Synod will highlight one woman from Christian history every week. Some you may know, others you may not, but all worthy of our respect and gratitude.

#16 Thérèse of Lisieux

As a little girl, she had big dreams. She wanted a big, important life, doing big, important things. She dreamed of being a priest, a missionary, a saint… but she didn’t see any possibilities for her dreams to manifest. She was a female and she lived the hidden life of a cloistered nun. She struggled with the divide she saw between serving God as she felt called while living within her real-life circumstances. Then she realized her true vocation: love. This led to her developing the “little way” which is detailed in her autobiography “Story of a Soul.” Thérèse teaches a practical theology of tending to everything and everyone with the enamored attention of a child—thus doing the ordinary with extraordinary love. She lived a short life—dying of tuberculosis at 24. Twenty-eight years later, her childhood dream came true when she was canonized as a saint—and declared the youngest doctor of the church. She was called the Little Flower and she teaches us that we can always bloom where we are planted and love that which is before us.