A video lecture by Fr. Robert Wild, Postulator for the Cause, given at Saint Paul’s University on September 26, 2013.
Category Archives: Articles
Articles from the Postulator of the cause for canonization of Catherine Doherty.
Catherine’s life and teaching cannot be fully understood unless we try to grasp the completely Christian culture from which she came. I don’t know of any other founders of ecclesial communities in the 20th century who have had such a background.
Perhaps one of the most frequent problem areas in Catherine’s life that people bring up is her relationship with her son, George. It is common knowledge that George was sent to several boarding schools during the early years of his life. So people ask: How could a real, loving mother send her son to boarding schools during those formative years when he most needed a mother?
Who is Father John Callahan? It is for the many who do not know who he was, or know very little about him, that I make him the subject of this newsletter. He was the first priest to join Madonna House, and was given the wisdom and courage to accept being Catherine’s spiritual director during the most momentous years of her spiritual life.
The gospel influence of Catherine Doherty on others is one indication of the work of the Holy Spirit in her life. Such influences are significant for the evaluation of her holiness. Although Catherine’s contacts with Jean Vanier were less frequent, you will see that he considers her and, even more, her community, to be major influences in his journey to L’Arche.
I had known that Fr. Paul Watson and Mother Lurana White were significant people in Catherine Doherty’s life. What I hadn’t realized was the depth of their influence. For her to say that her followers of both Friendship House and Madonna House are children of these two great people, and that without their influence we would not be in existence, well, these words opened up a new window for me onto the mystery of Catherine’s spirit.
One of the great contemporary adventures that unfortunately is not narrated is the friendship of these two great women, Catherine Doherty and Dorothy Day. They were raised up by the Holy Spirit at the same historical moment in the Church of North America. They were almost mirror images of one another: totally loyal Catholics, serving the poor, conditioned by the great depression, women of prayer, dedicated to the Church, founders of movements that continue to this day.
Five recent appointees of Bishop Richard Smith of Pembroke are to begin the next phase of research into Catherine’s life and writings. For the first time, they all came together in Combermere to meet the Bishop and Madonna House, and to meet one another, since some of them had not yet met each other. They also needed to see our archives and set their sights for future research. What is this “next phase”?
I am frequently asked, “How is Catherine being perceived?” Of course, it all depends on who is doing the perceiving. A guest came here once and just sat in the car until someone came out to see who he was. He said he had read Poustinia but was overwhelmed by the number of buildings before him. “What did you expect?” he was asked. “An old woman sitting under a tree,” he said.
The following realization came to me in prayer in the poustinia: I bet not many people have ever read the eye-witness account of Catherine’s death by the two community members who were actually with her that night. As you will read in their accounts, they were indeed very blessed and privileged to be the ones chosen by our Lord and our Lady of Combermere to be there.
Because Catherine Doherty was reared in both the Orthodox and Catholic traditions, and because unity between these two great ancient traditions was one of her intense desires, Madonna House is sensitive to what the Orthodox Church’s (and more specifically the Russian Orthodox Church’s) approach is to this whole question of the canonization of saints.
A theology of founders and foundresses has arisen since Vatican II. Catherine saw herself as having been called by the Lord to be the foundress of, first, Friendship House, and then Madonna House (both of which we shall be considering). Her awareness of being a foundress grew over a period of time, as it often did with other foundresses.
This summer, a milestone has been reached in “Catherine Studies,” which I am making the focus of this present newsletter. Our associate priest, Fr. Don Guglielmi, of the Bridgeport, Connecticut diocese, successfully defended his thesis and became a Doctor of Sacred Theology. The topic of his thesis? Staritsa: The Spiritual Maternity of Catherine de Hueck Doherty.
In this issue I thought I would share with you some scattered pieces of information from the Internet that are relevant to Catherine’s Cause. Hopefully you will find them as interesting as I did. As I surf the waves of canonization I swim especially towards items which will help me in my work on Catherine’s Cause.
When the Lord desires to create a new community, he usually speaks to an individual—rather than to a committee! Since the Second Vatican Council a theology of founders and foundresses has developed.
One of the questions I have been asking people is: “If Catherine was canonized, what would be the significance of her life for the Church today?” We have received many responses to this and other questions from Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious and Laity. What follows is my brief summary of some of the main replies to this question which highlight the pastoral relevance of her Cause in the minds of those who knew her or about her.
The purpose of this newsletter is: 1) to promote knowledge of Catherine’s life and work; 2) to solicit and publicize the testimonies of people who believe they have received favours through her intercession; 3) to keep people informed of the progress of the Cause; 4) to ask that our friends pray for her canonization—if it be God’s will; 5) to ask for financial donations to help defray the expenses of the Cause.