This week in Madonna House was marked by one signal event, and that was the arrival from all points of the compass of the local directors of our various MH mission houses.
Every year in May the LDs gather here in Combermere for three weeks of meetings to discuss the present reality of the apostolate with a view to discerning the way forward in the Holy Spirit for our community. And so they came, from as far away as Krasnoyarsk in Siberia, Russia to as close as St. Joseph’s house which serves the local community in Combermere.
And they came from a wide variety of houses and apostolates, from the very active soup kitchen apostolates of Edmonton and Regina to the prayer houses of Washington and Raleigh. And they come with a wide variety of backgrounds and apostolic experience—our oldest LD is 90 years old, a pioneer in the community; our youngest made her final promises just a few years ago.
So here we all are, and we began the meeting process with two days of retreat, given by myself and another of the priests. The meetings proper will begin Monday afternoon and continue each afternoon for the next weeks.
Our theme for the retreat days was the Little Mandate, the core words of our MH vocation and spirit that Catherine Doherty our foundress had received in prayer in the 1930s. It is a significant anniversary regarding that Mandate this year. While Catherine received the words in the 1930s, she had always considered them to be God’s own personal words to her, out of which she developed the life and spirit of the community. But in May 1966, at the prompting of some of the MH priests, she brought the words forth to the entire MH family, where they were promptly received as being, indeed, the heart of our way of life.
And so it is the 50th anniversary of that landmark event in our community’s development, and so we returned to those crucial words, never far from any of our thoughts and hearts, please God, to reflect on them together so as to attune ourselves to God’s voice and action at this time.
What else is going on here? The first year applicants returned from their annual vacation, and it was nice to see all their fresh young faces all rested up and ready to go for year two of applicancy. We have a small upsurge in our guest numbers, the men in particular, although (ahem…) there’s always room for more! Lots more! Any young guys out there looking for a bit of apostolic and spiritual renewal and growth? Come on over!
The renovations of our women’s guest dorm continues, which of course means limited bed space for them (there’s still room for a few more, though…), and the renovations of the priest house where I live are almost finished, with the last finish carpentry being done, and the finish electrical and plumbing work the next and final job involved in that large project.
It is spring, and anyone who knows about farming knows that spring is the time for much work on many fronts. The gardeners are busy with greenhouse work, starting many of the plants in that protected environment (it is still freezing at night, of course—this is Canada). Field work preparing the gardens for the major planting is beginning.
Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, the small Catholic liberal arts college in nearby Barry’s Bay, had its graduation yesterday. One of our priests is the chaplain there and was in attendance along with two of our directors’ general. Several members went on the same day to Toronto to the priestly ordination of a former member of Madonna House who was being ordained for the Toronto archdiocese.
Otherwise, I’m not sure what else to say. Life continues along all its normal lines, in blessed ordinariness. The days have been sunny and warm, Combermere at its most beautiful truly (and no bugs yet!). And in the midst of it all, we hold all of you in our prayers and hearts, and lift up the entire world and all its troubles in prayer to God our loving Father through all we do and are.