Posted February 09, 2010:
Notes From Near and Far: Grand Rapids, Michigan

by Fr. Mark Mitchell.

No, Madonna House hasn’t opened a house in Michigan. This was written by one of our associate priests.

I have always been close to Madonna House, and when MH had a house in Muskegon, a city 35 miles away, I often went there for visits and poustinias. I regularly visited MH Combermere as well, and whenever I did, I would bring donations and other things from the Muskegon house to Combermere.

After the Muskegon house closed, I spoke with Jean Fox, who was then Madonna House’s director general of women. Jean had a prophetic gift, and when she talked in a certain tone of voice, you knew God was speaking through her. She spoke in that tone and said, "Now that the house in Muskegon is closed, the torch is passed on to you."

In Grand Rapids, where I live, I belong to a fraternity of eight to twelve priests who meet weekly. We have a deep commitment to the priesthood, to the Church, and to each other.

Some of the priests in our fraternity have visited Madonna House, and two of them, Fr. James Bozung and Fr. George Fekete, are associate priests. So our fraternity is very much influenced by the spirituality of Catherine Doherty.

A third priest, Fr. Troy Nevins, who is not a member of our fraternity, is also an associate priest. He’s the pastor of a very large parish.

Then a year and a half ago, I was present in Combermere when Bishop Robert Rose, the retired bishop of our diocese, became an associate. Bishop Rose has loved Madonna House for many, many years, and it was he who issued the invitation to open the house in his diocese.

A fifth associate from the diocese, Msgr. Arthur Bukowski, is deceased and is praying for us.

This year I spoke to the students of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids about Madonna House. Staff worker Petra Muller, who is originally from Detroit, was my contact person. She’s a good friend of one of their lay chaplains.

The students were excited about Madonna House and donated some money. Some of them expressed interest in visiting MH Combermere in the spring, and one of them is writing something about Catherine Doherty.

In the past also, Madonna House had connections with Aquinas College. Associate Msgr. Bukowski was president of the college, and before they joined MH, Fr. Bob Sharkey was a professor and chaplain there and Cynthia Donnelly was a student.

So you can see that Madonna House is very important to the priesthood of the Grand Rapids Diocese and that it is a spark that is still growing in the hearts of the laity as well.

We are carrying the torch of Madonna House; the prophecy of Jean Fox is being fulfilled.


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