Our first associate priest was Archbishop Joseph Raya. He was a Lebanese-born Melkite Catholic archbishop, theologian, civil rights advocate who was known for his commitment to seeking reconciliation between Christians, Jews and Muslims.
In 1959, the then “Father Joe Raya” visited Madonna House during a summer break from his parish duties in Birmingham, Alabama. He had a dream that led him to make an unusual request: to become an associate priest of Madonna House. Thus began our Associate Clergy program that invites those ordained to be shepherds and ministers in the Church to live The Little Mandate wherever they are.
As Madonna House has grown, many diocesan clergy have become associates, living out the spirit of The Little Mandate in their home dioceses. We now have approximately 100 bishop, priest, and deacon associates coming from all around the world. Many stay in touch with the Madonna House field house in their area and once a year they gather in Combermere for a week-long retreat.