Welcomed into the Diocese of Gallup, NM, in 1957, Madonna House in Winslow, La Casa de Nuestra Senora (The House of Our Lady), is nestled in a neighborhood on the south side of the railroad tracks that cut through the town. For over fifty years the members of Madonna House and the people of Winslow and the surrounding area have lived a rich exchange of love and friendship. The people of Winslow have embraced each Madonna House member who comes, especially our foundress, Catherine Doherty, and our co-founder, Father Eddie Doherty, during their extended stays here. The graces of these visits continue to flow through the life of the house.
Under the mantles of the loving care of Our Lady of Combermere and Our Lady of Guadalupe, our life of Nazareth simplicity flows naturally in this atmosphere. We carry the needs of many in prayer as we go about the daily life of cooking, cleaning, laundry, gardening, or stacking wood. Friends and neighbors enjoy sharing a cup of coffee or tea or a meal or joining us for prayer times in our chapel.
Our lives are intertwined from birth and baptism to death and funerals. Helping in the parish religious education programs, lending our voices to the parish choirs, visiting the sick and elderly in their homes or in the hospital, sharing donations of food and other goods with our neighbors, assisting the women in the parish who provide luncheons after funerals, all are part of the immersion of Madonna House into the life that flows through the community of Winslow.
From the beginning, religious instruction has been part of the life and mandate. At present, this has taken on a number of forms. A primary thrust is in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori-based method of presenting the beauties and mysteries of our faith. One of our houses is given over to this purpose for three to five year olds, with four or five sessions each week. Members of Madonna House, along with local assistants and teachers, have also incorporated methodology and materials from the Catechesis into the sacramental preparations in the parish religious education program.
As the children mature, our involvement with them changes. We have participated in the diocesan weekend retreat program for teenagers called Search for Christian Maturity. At present, a group of these teens gather at Madonna House for prayer, reflection, song and fellowship on a bi-weekly basis.
A men’s Scripture study and prayer group has been meeting regularly at our house for over forty years, and a women’s group for over thirty-five years. Sharing the Word of God and praying together has proved a source of strength and encouragement for many as they live out their own vocations in the marketplace of home and work.
Part of our service is simply to provide a place for various groups to meet: Codependents Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, a Cancer Support group, Cursillo grupos, and the Winslow Ministerial Association.
Prayer is of course the fuel that enables us to burn with the zeal of service, and we are grateful to be able to provide a poustinia for those desiring to respond to an inner call for silence and solitude with the word of God.