Cardinal James Hickey invited Catherine Doherty to open a prayer house in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC in the spring of 1981.
In his letter of welcome, Cardinal Hickey gave us our mandate: “I have asked you to come to Washington to be a spiritual presence in our midst, praying and fasting not only for the Archdiocese, but also for the President, Congress, and all involved in Government. A parish-to-parish search has found an ideal location, Capitol Hill, just one block from the new Hart Senate Office Building. Thus the Holy Spirit has provided us a Madonna House prayer presence to meet the needs of the Catholics of this area.”
We embrace this mandate as we live our daily lives. Our intercessory prayer takes many forms: participating in the Liturgy; receiving the Eucharist; adoring before the Blessed Sacrament in our chapel; singing the Divine Office morning and evening, praying the Rosary to begin evening prayer. As we go about our day, doing little, ordinary things, we pray in the silence of our hearts.
One day a week, we go into poustinia, to spend twenty-four hours in silence and solitude, to meet the Lord through prayer and fasting. Several poustinia rooms are available for anyone who would like to come apart and pray.
Our Little Mandate calls us to: Go into the Market place and stay with Me. We live in the market place of Washington, D.C., striving to be one with Our Lord Jesus. Through simple acts of friendship and hospitality, we try to bring Christ’s love to all we meet. We host a Saturday Morning of Recollection each month, and a Bible Study for young adults every Sunday morning. We share our Madonna House spirituality one evening each month. We provide a place where our friends can come celebrate with us the wonderful feast days of the Church.
Like Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in Nazareth, we welcome any who knock at our door. We bring them an open, listening heart where they can speak of their joys and sorrows while having a cup of tea at our kitchen table. “We offer what God, in his mercy, has given to us.” (Poustinia, p. 83)