Catherine de Hueck Doherty was a woman who said ‘yes’ again and again to God’s call. Her life was not a simple one but encompassed a vast array of experiences that challenged and purified her faith in God.
She received a deeply Christian upbringing in Russia, entered into marriage as a teenager, worked as a nurse during the First World War, exiled from her native land after the Communist revolution of 1917, became a mother, was separated from her husband, and struggled with an insistent call from God to serve Christ in the poorest of the poor.
Her work in social justice in both Canada and the USA led to the establishment of Friendship House, which spread from Toronto to Harlem, New York, and then to other cities in the 1930s and 1940s. She was a pioneer in the Lay Apostolate in North America, and a forerunner in the civil rights movement in the USA.
In 1943, she married Irish-American newspaper reporter Eddie Doherty. Assisted by her husband, she founded the community of Madonna House, whose members—laymen, women and priests—make a lifetime vocational commitment. Since 1947, the Madonna House Apostolate has grown to include several mission houses throughout the world.