Category Archives: Articles

Articles from the Postulator of the cause for canonization of Catherine Doherty.

Catherine Doherty: A Bridge Between East and West

A video lecture by Fr. Robert Wild, Postulator for the Cause, given at Saint Paul’s University on September 26, 2013.

Catherine: Creator of Catholic Culture

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.

Catherine and the Russian Religious Renaissance

Catherine Doherty by Russian shrine

Catherine Doherty by Russian shrineThis brief account of Catherine Doherty’s relationship to what has been called the Russian Religious Renaissance makes the plea that Catherine should be included among those who have brought the treasures of Russia to the West.

Catherine and Her Son, George

Catherine de Hueck and young George

Catherine de Hueck and young GeorgePerhaps 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?

Catherine and Father John Callahan

Catherine Doherty with Fr. John Callahan at Madonna House, c. 1981.

Catherine Doherty with Fr. John Callahan at Madonna House, c. 1981.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.

Catherine and Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier with Catherine Doherty at Madonna House, 1971.

Jean Vanier with Catherine Doherty at Madonna House, 1971.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.

Catherine and Thomas Merton

Photo of Thomas Merton by John Howard Griffin, used on his funeral card.

Photo of Thomas Merton by John Howard Griffin, used on his funeral card.One aspect of Catherine Doherty’s life of Gospel intensity concerns how she inspired others to love the Lord. Such influence is another indication of the love of God present in, and working through, her. It is my conviction that she had such an influence on Thomas Merton.

Catherine, Fr. Paul and Mother Lurana of Graymoor

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.

Catherine and Dorothy Day

Catherine Doherty recieves a kiss from Dorothy Day at the Lay Congress in Rome, Fall 1957.

Catherine Doherty recieves a kiss from Dorothy Day at the Lay Congress in Rome, Fall 1957.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.

The New Episcopal Appointees

(left to right): Kathleen Janet Thompson, Dr. Elizabeth Smyth, Fr. Robert Wild, Fr. Pat Cogan, Dr. Vicki Bennett, Fr. Terrence Fay. (front) Fr. Alexandre Tache.

(left to right): Kathleen Janet Thompson, Dr. Elizabeth Smyth, Fr. Robert Wild, Fr. Pat Cogan, Dr. Vicki Bennett, Fr. Terrence Fay. (front) Fr. Alexandre Tache.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”?

How is Catherine Being Perceived?

Catherine Doherty dressed in her Russian costume for the Chautauqua lecture circuit, 1920s.

Catherine Doherty dressed in her Russian costume for the Chautauqua lecture circuit, 1920s.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.

20th Anniversary of Catherine’s Falling Asleep in the Lord

Catherine Doherty's Funeral Mass at Holy Canadian Martyrs Church in Combermere.

Catherine Doherty's Funeral Mass at Holy Canadian Martyrs Church in Combermere.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.

“We Are Aiming at Sanctity”

Catherine Doherty receiving Communion.

Catherine Doherty receiving Communion.There are several themes of this newsletter: 1) that everyone is called to holiness; 2) that this is one of the deepest ways of understanding Christian relationships; and 3) that our times have been especially blessed with an abundance of saintly women.

Does the Orthodox Church Canonize People?

Catherine Doherty wearing Russian pilgrim clothes.

Catherine Doherty wearing Russian pilgrim clothes.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.

Poustinia: 30 years later and on into the 21st Century

William Kurelek's painting of the first poustinia, with Madonna House in the background, entitled The Hope of the World.

William Kurelek's painting of the first poustinia, with Madonna House in the background, entitled The Hope of the World.Catherine is probably best known, still today, for her book Poustinia. First published in 1975, it was the fruit of her mature life with God. It has inspired hundreds of thousands of people. The depth and power of the words in this book are a sign of God’s grace at work in her.

Catherine Doherty and Madonna House

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.

Spiritual Maternity

Fr. Don Guglielmi, Madonna House Associate Priest.

Fr. Don Guglielmi, Madonna House Associate Priest.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.

The Church is a Prayer

Catherine Doherty meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Catherine Doherty meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1981.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.

Unity in Diversity

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.

A Vision of the Whole

Catherine Doherty at Madonna House in Combermere.

Catherine Doherty at Madonna House in Combermere.How the Holy Spirit used outstanding laity such as Catherine Doherty to give rise to what the Church is now calling “ecclesial communities and movements.”

The Pastoral Relevance of Catherine’s Cause

George stands with Catherine after she is made a member of the Order of Canada “for a lifetime of devoted services to the underpriviliged of many nationalities both in Canada and abroad.”

George stands with Catherine after she is made a member of the Order of Canada “for a lifetime of devoted services to the underpriviliged of many nationalities both in Canada and abroad.”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.

Why Saints?

The Canadian Martyrs

The Canadian MartyrsThe Catholic Church believes not only that everyone is called to be holy, but that people who have lived lives of heroic sanctity should be publicly recognized. She calls this recognition “canonization.”

Catherine’s Life and the History of the Cause

Father Robert Wild presenting the petition for the Cause to Bishop Brendan O’Brien.

Father Robert Wild presenting the petition for the Cause to Bishop Brendan O’Brien.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.