Ep. 14 – A Sister of St. Thérèse: Servant of God, Léonie Martin – Bearer of Hope with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Fr. Timothy Gallagher OMVA Sister of St. Thérèse: Servant of God, Léonie Martin – Bearer of Hope with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Episode 14


We pick up with Léonie at the dawn of the 1930s, in an era where world events begin to collide cataclysmically.   She is writing to her older sister, Marie, about Pauline’s jubilee and recalling challenging medical procedures.

We also discuss the profound impact the teachings and writings of St. Francis de Sales and, to a lesser extent, St. Jane de Chantal and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had on Léonie. Finally, Fr. Gallagher observes how the Salesian spirituality is very much in keeping with the “Little Way” of her sister, St. Therese, they are.

Léonie then imparts profound insights to her sisters following a retreat, which still rings true for all of us today.

Fr. Gallagher says, “Léonie’s life holds a significant story because she was the forgotten one; she was the one who was in the last place; she was the one who was less gifted than the others. Today we would call her a ‘problem child,’ and we’ll see that she certainly was the source of great anxiety to her parents, especially to her mother, Zélie, who loved her dearly.”

As a child, Léonie suffered from severe illnesses and physical maladies that would plague her entire life. She also struggled with understanding social clues and interactions and with behaving appropriately. Conventional educational models of the day failed to meet her particular needs, and she was labeled “developmentally delayed.” Yet those who knew her well described her as having a “heart of gold.”

Who was Léonie and what were her struggles? Why has her cause of canonization begun?  Father Gallagher, along with Kris McGregor,  answers these questions and explains why Léonie is “a bearer of hope” in this landmark series.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Embracing Physical Suffering: How can Léonie Martin’s acceptance of her physical sufferings inspire you to endure your own challenges with patience and grace?
  2. Role of Humility in Spiritual Growth: How can embracing humility and recognizing your own limitations help you grow in your spiritual life?
  3. 6. Influence of Spirituality of Saints: What aspects of St. Francis de Sales’ and St. Thérèse’s teachings resonate with you, and how can you incorporate them into your daily life?
  4. Living the Little Way: How can you apply the principles of the “little way” in your daily actions and interactions with others?
  5. Trust in God’s Mercy: How can Léonie’s complete trust in God’s mercy encourage you to surrender your weaknesses and limitations to God?
  6. Spiritual Communion with Others: In what ways can you strengthen your spiritual communion with others, especially during times of physical or emotional suffering?

The 4 Sisters - Marie, Pauline, Leonie, and Celine

St. Thérèse

A resource used for this series

Images in this post of the Martin/Guerin family are used with permission from the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux website for strictly non-commercial use.  We encourage you to visit the website for more information on this remarkable family.

For more series Fr. Timothy Gallagher podcasts, visit here

Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola.” For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

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