Madonna House

In 1957, at the invitation of the Bishop of Gallup, NM, Madonna House Lay Apostolate began apostolic ministry in Winslow, AZ.  Madonna House is a community of laymen, laywomen and priests, founded by Catherine De Hueck Doherty in 1947, with 18 fieldhouses in various parts of the world.  The community in Winslow, La Casa de Nuestra Señora, is involved in the daily life of the local community: visiting the sick, sharing donations of food and clothing, participating in baptisms, weddings and funerals, and praying with and for people on their journey of faith.

As set out in our mandate from our local Bishop, the primary ministry of the staff here in Winslow is religious instruction, which includes the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd with preschool children, sacramental preparation for children in the elementary grades of CCD, and assisting with the Diocesan Search Retreats for teenagers.  Currently we also offer weekly Scripture groups for men and women, the men’s group having been formed in 1973 and meeting continuously since then.

Prayer is an important part of our rhythm of life.  We generally have communal prayer 3 times a day, which includes Mass, Adoration and the Rosary.  Sometimes people join us, or come at other times to pray in our chapel.  They may want to share their struggles and joys with us, or spend time in silence with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Sometimes our prayer takes the form of ‘poustinia’ – a time, usually 24 hours, of solitude and fasting.  Catherine Doherty introduced the idea of poustinia to the Madonna House community in the late 1960’s and her book Poustinia continues to be among the best-known of her writings and one of the most common sources of queries about the charism of Madonna House.

One of these charisms of Madonna House, as taught by our foundress, is that of ‘hospitality of the heart’.  This type of hospitality is a very practical one – often involving laying aside the current work, plan or project in order to be available to listen to the person who has just arrived at the door.  Or to the person just encountered on the street or in the line-up at the grocery store.  And not only to listen with the ear but with the heart, taking into our hearts the words, the worries, the joys….the person ….who is Christ, before us.

So the heart of our life in Madonna House is not really doing  – though we are busy enough!  The heart of our life is loving – both one another and every person whom we encounter during the day. Though we gladly share our faith in Christ when that is appropriate and helpful, it is the love of Christ that we always hope to leave with a person.

David Landers

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