Tag Archives: Madonna House

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 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 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.