There is so much in Madonna House for me to be grateful for in this amazing vocation.
First of all, it includes Mass at which we receive Jesus, body and blood, soul and divinity, as a normal part of daily life.
As a guest (I visited three times before becoming an applicant) one of the gifts of Madonna House that I was most grateful for was the spiritual protection permitting me to listen to God more easily, without the usual interference from negative spiritual influences I felt most of the time in “the world”.
Through conversations with both older staff and recent guests, I know that this experience of hearing God more clearly here is not unique to me.
I believe that this freedom our guests experience is a grace flowing from the faithfulness of the members of Madonna House to the teachings of our foundress. I also believe it is a fruit of the wondrous gift of having priests live among us as members of our family.
I am also grateful for the ethnic and national diversity of our members: For instance, this past summer in my dorm at least eleven countries were represented by 13 or 14 women (Canada, U.S.A., Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, Korea, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Vietnam and Poland.)
In the nitty gritty of daily life, this diversity makes communication far more challenging, but it also enriches everyone’s life with the gifts, knowledge, and perspectives of different cultures.
It also helps us be aware of, identify with, and intercede for those people/places in the world where conflict and disaster are present.
Right now, with the situation in Ukraine, I know that at least four of our members have Ukrainian background.
Friends of our Russian house are also caught in the midst of this conflict, and we are carrying them in prayer and, when possible, those of us who know them email or phone them. All of this helps personalize for me the tragedy occurring in Ukraine.
One of the many things I’m grateful for is the opportunity I’ve had to get to know several of our pioneers, those who were with Catherine in the early years of Madonna House.
Having spent time with them—as their driver to doctor’s appointments, during their hospital stays, in dormitories, at table in St. Mary’s, and chatting in their rooms or in other parts of Our Lady of the Visitation—has been a gift and a privilege.
To hear of their experiences before Madonna House, what brought them to the apostolate, about the early years when Catherine was forming the community, and their joys, sorrows, and exciting (though not always easy) adventures through the years, etc. was such a gift.
These men and women have been and still are (those who are still alive) heroic. The depth of their spirituality, their tenacity of life, and their love and trust in the Lord have impacted my life in ways that are beyond words.
I’m honored to have been privileged to peek into the spirit and souls of these great people. A part of Catherine is embedded into the being of each one.
This is what I experienced. This doesn’t exclude the nitty gritty humanity of these stalwarts. It simply touches the deeper reality that they’ve passed on to us. Never having met Catherine, I’ve met Catherine.