Madonna House

Notes From Near and Far: Roanoke, Virginia

by Patricia Lawton

The wind blows wherever it pleases; you hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. That is how it is with all who are born of the Spirit (Jn 3:8).

A few months ago Fr. Ron Cafeo (an MH priest from Combermere) and Echo Lewis (of MH Raleigh) joined us to give a Marian-centered retreat to Our Lady of Nazareth parish as part of its 100th anniversary celebration.

About eighty people attended. The opening Mass was beautiful. There were a homily on the Annunciation and Nazareth, Marian songs, and special prayers to Our Lady of Nazareth.

Later that morning, Fr. Ron gave the main presentation: Joyful Mystery. Using icons and contemporary paintings projected on a large screen, quotes fromBogoroditza (Catherine’s book about Mary), and humorous anecdotes from his own life, he presented each of the joyful mysteries.

In the afternoon Fr. Ron and each of the three of us at MH Roanoke—Marie-Therese McLaughlin, Beth Ryan, and I—gave talks.

The day closed with an hour of adoration. At the conclusion, we MH staff renewed our Act of Consecration to Mary and invited anyone in the congregation who felt so moved to make it as well. Then Fr. Ron heard confessions for an hour.

We had beautiful responses to the retreat. A week later, for example, a woman told us that she and her husband were deeply touched by the talks. Her husband is now putting into practice at his workplace some of what he learned.

We also gave an evening on Our Lady and the rosary to another parish, St. Gerard’s; and we talked to the young people of St. Elias Maronite Catholic Church about Madonna House and vocation in the Church. That evening began with pizza in the church hall with 30 youngsters from age six to seventeen. What a lot of energy!

Beforehand, Marie Therese had coached three of the teens to act out one of Catherine’s stories, “The Pity of God,” and that was a great start to our talks.

On the two Saturdays a month when we do not have Mass in our house, we have a study group. This year, we are reading the encyclical by Pope Francis: Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith). We use a study guide by Jared Dees we found on the website of Ave Maria Press. Six or eight people join us, and the discussions are excellent.

In case you think we only connect with Catholics, we want to tell you that one of the many Baptist churches here in Roanoke sent their missionary women’s group to visit.

These wonderful elders visit local agencies and non-profit organizations to learn about their work. Then they find out what material items are needed and collect them for the agency. We told them about our life as well as our work, and they returned to us a few days later with new towels and face cloths for our linen closet.