Madonna House

He Loved Madonna House

by Fr. David May

Most of the time, we don’t know the role of Madonna House in a person’s life. Take Archbishop Fournier, for example.

People knew he liked Madonna House, and that got a little clearer when we opened a house in his diocese, and he went there many nights for tea. But the weekend of his funeral, which Fr. Louis Labrecque (an MH priest from Quebec) and I attended, it became clear what Madonna House was for him spiritually.

Bishop Pierre-André had always had the spirituality of Madonna House within him, and then he discovered a community that had that spirituality.

So from that time, the time he first visited Madonna House as a seminarian, he was drawn to us, and we to him. This was all hidden by Our Lady until now—and it was unveiled that weekend for Quebec.

The Little Mandate, which summarizes MH spirituality, was on the archbishop’s memorial card, and Madonna House was mentioned several times during the funeral—much to our surprise.

One bishop, for example, said, “I am beginning to understand what it means to have a spirituality and to be sustained by it.”

Fr. Louis Labrecque (it was Archbishop Fournier who told him about Madonna House) and I had much to share together on the long ride to and from Rimouski. It was all very moving in so many ways.

Archbishop Fournier was the kind of religious person Quebec can warm up to. A man who was simple, little, who was glad to see you at any time, who gave you a warm and generous welcome—no matter what your position on any issue.

Even with people he knew were hostile to the Church, it was, “Would you like a cup of tea?”

As Jeanne Guillemette said in her article, When a man dies, his life is revealed(Sirach 11:27b). This was so true with the archbishop.