This week in Madonna House we began the Directors’ Meetings. This is always a rich and somewhat intense time in MH—for those of us attending them, a time of deep listening and searching out of the voice of the Spirit in our community; for those carrying the load of the apostolate while we meet, a time of intercession and offering.
While of course I cannot talk about the meetings in this public forum in any detail, the first week was mostly reports from the various houses about their year. This year we decided to organize it a bit differently (just for fun) and went from the furthest away house to the closest.
So we heard from Krasnoyarsk, Russia; Resteigne, Belgium; St. Joseph’s house, Combermere (which, by long standing custom in MH, we consider to be symbolically ‘3000 miles away!’); Robin Hood’s Bay, England; Whitehorse, Yukon; Carriacou, Grenada; Vancouver BC; Edmonton AB; Winslow AZ; Regina SK; Raleigh NC; Rimouski QC; Roanoke VA; Washington DC; Windsor ON; Alpena MI; Toronto ON; Ottawa ON. Then we had reports from the various households of MH Combermere—the farm, St. Mary’s, the main house, and our directors of training.
So this has certainly taken up a good part of my energy and time, for sure, as well as that of quite a few others in the community. Meanwhile, we are in full springtime mode, although the weather this week shot us right past spring into summer heat and humidity. We planted the onions this week, all of us going up to the farm one evening to get them in. The gardens are in full gear, of course, and I can’t even begin to tell you all that is happening—basically, everything we grow is in some stage of being planted and watered.
With the warm weather everything is stirring to life, and the swamp that our property skirts has exploded with the sound of frogs and toads of all description—quite loud, actually, which of course is a great sign of environmental health. One evening two of our women held a session on the tea dock overlooking the swamp on the different amphibian species of this area and how to identify their croaks and peeps. We continue our commitment to adult education…
For the month of May we are doing something a bit different in honour of Our Lady. It is her month, of course, and MH is her house. Our communal dining room, which is lined on its two long walls by book shelves, is filled on the top of those shelves with statues of Our Lady of all description. So we have a little shrine set up at the front of the room, and each day a different one of those statues (and various other statues from other buildings) is placed in the shrine, and before our communal rosary at the end of supper someone gives a presentation on that title of Our Lady. We have had Our Lady of Sorrows, of Loreto, of Apariceda (Brazil), of Beauraing (Belgium)… and more.
We also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the death of Fr. Edward Doherty, Catherine’s husband, who in the last years of his life was ordained an Eastern rite priest. We had read his book Cricket in My Heart, about his wooing and wedding of her, their founding of MH, and his journey to the priesthood, earlier this year, so he was much to the fore in our minds and hearts. We had a memory night on Sunday when people could share stories about him, and a festive supper on Monday (the actual anniversary) with his favourite—ice cream—for dessert.
Guests continue to be sparse, although a steady trickle arrive each week. It would be nice to see a somewhat bigger crowd, especially in this rich and beautiful time of year—hey, any young adults out there want to have an adventure this summer? Check us out.
That’s about it for now—as I always say at this point, there’s lots else going on in this place, but I just don’t know what all it is. Be assured of our prayers for all of you and for the world as we go about our business here in the back woods of Canada.